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Research by Industry/Sector November 22, 2017  
Microelectronics Glossary

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Active Component
      A non-mechanical circuit component that has gain or switches current flow, such as a diode, transistor, etc.
Analog
      A continuous value that most closely resembles the real world and can be as precise as the measuring technique allows.
Analog Circuit
      A collection of components used to generate or process analog signals.
ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit)
      An integrated circuit designed to meet a specific customer requirement.
Capacitor
      An electrical component that builds and stores voltage for release on command.
Chip
      An integrated circuit or discrete device. Also called a die.
Clean Room
      An area specially constructed to control the air flow, temperature, and humidity in such a way that constant filtration keeps contamination below some predetermined level and temperature and humidity within predetermined limits.
Conductor, Electrical
      A material capable of carrying (conducting) electricity. Silver is the best electrical conductor. Copper, gold, and aluminum are also popular conductors.
Deposition
      A heat or physical (sputtering) process whereby a thin film of material is deposited over the surface of a silicon wafer or other substrate.
Die
      A single square or rectangular piece of semiconductor material into which a specific electrical circuit has been fabricated. Also called a chip or device (IC or discrete).
Diffusion
      A high-temperature process by which selected chemicals (dopants) enter the crystalline structure of semiconductor materials to change the electrical characteristics at desired locations. This process takes place in a diffusion furnace.
Digital
      A method of representing information in an electrical circuit by switching the current ON or OFF. Only two output voltages are possible, usually represented by "0" and "1".
Digital Circuit
      A circuit that operates like a switch and can perform logical functions. Used in computers or similar logic-based equipment.
Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
      A primarily digital component used to process either digital or analog signals. In the case of the latter, the signal may first be conditioned, then converted into a digital equivalent using an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter function. The signal conditioning and A/D functions may either be external to the DSP or resident in the device. A typical DSP application might be the compression/decompression of video data.
Diode
      A two-terminal device that only conducts electricity in one direction; in the other direction it behaves like an open switch. The term diode is typically taken to refer to a semiconductor device, although alternative implementations such as vacuum tubes are available.
DIP (Dual In-line Package)
      The most common type of IC package; circuit leads or pins extend symmetrically outward and downward from the long sides of the rectangular package body.
Discrete Device
      A semiconductor containing only one active element, such as a transistor or a diode.
Dry Etch
      A process that uses radio frequency (RF) energy and gas phase chemicals to remove a specific layer during semiconductor wafer processing.
DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory)
      A memory device in which each cell is formed from a transistor-capacitor pair. Called dynamic because the capacitor loses its charge over time, and each cell must be periodically recharged if it is to retain its data.
EEPROM or E2PROM (Electrically-Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory)
      Similar to ROM, but with the capability of selective erasure and programming through special electrical stimulus.
Electron
      An elementary, negatively charged atomic particle.
EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory)
      Similar to ROM, but enables the user to erase stored information. Normally refers to a memory device whose contents may be erased by exposure to ultraviolet light shined through a window in the ceramic package.
Etch
      The process of removing material (such as oxides or other thin films) in microelectronics manufacturing by chemical, electrolytic or plasma (ion bombardment) means.
EDA (Electronic Design Automation)
      Techniques of using a computer to aid in the design of electrical circuits, integrated circuits, gate arrays, and other complex engineering designs in a reasonable time frame.
Fabless
      A semiconductor company that does not have their own wafer manufacturing facility, but subcontracts wafer manufacturing to others.
Fabrication
      In semiconductor manufacturing, fabrication usually refers to the (front-end) process of making devices on semiconductor wafers, but usually does not include the package assembly (back-end) stages.
GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade)
      An international organization and code of tariffs and trade rules that evolved out of the multilateral trade treaty signed in 1947. It was replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 1, 1995.
HS (Harmonized System)
      An international convention that was implemented by the United States in 1989 for classifying imports and exports so that data from different countries are compatible.
Hybrid Circuit
      A microelectronic device consisting of both film circuits and semiconductor elements.
Inductor
      A passive component that opposes changes in current flow that are the result of lagging current changes relative to voltage changes. Inductors acts as antennas and interference suppressors to block out signal interference in TV sets, radios, stereos, telecommunications equipment, etc.
Insulator
      A material that is a poor conductor of electricity -- used to separate conductors from one another or to protect personnel from electricity.
Integrated Circuit (IC)
      A semiconductor die containing multiple elements that act together to form the complete device circuit.
Interconnect
      A conductive connection between two or more circuit elements. The conductors among elements (transistors, resistors, etc.) on an integrated circuit or between components on a printed circuit board.
Leadframe
      A stamped or etched metal frame that provides external electrical connections for a packaged electronic device.
Line Width
      Usually refers to a dimension on a mask or a feature on an IC.
Linear/Analog Circuit
      A circuit whose output is an amplified version of its input or whose output is a predetermined variation of its input.
Lithography
      The transfer of a pattern or image from one medium to another, as from a mask to a wafer. If light is used to effect the transfer, the term, "photolithography" applies. Microlithography refers to the process as applied to images with features in the submicron range.
LSI (Large-Scale Integration)
      ICs containing 1,000 or more transistors, but less than 100,000.
Magnetron
      An electron tube used to generate microwave radiation for applications including telephony and radar.
Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (MOS)
      A very common family of transistors where the controlling terminal is connected to a plate separated from the semiconductor by an insulating layer. This plate was originally made of metal (now polysilicon is generally used) and the insulator is an oxide -- hence the "metal-oxide" name.
Microcomputer
      A microprocessor complete with stored program memory (ROM), random-access memory (RAM), and input/output (I/O) logic. Microcomputers are capable of performing useful work without additional supporting logic. If all functions are on the same chip, this is sometimes called a microcontroller.
Micron
      One-millionth (10^-6) of a meter. About 40 millionths of an inch. Synonymous with micrometer. Symbol is m.
Microprocessor
      The basic arithmetic logic of a computer. Also called MPU for microprocessor unit.
Monolithic Device
      A device whose circuitry is completely contained on a single die or chip.
NAICS (North American Classification System)
      A new economic classification system adopted by the United States, Canada and Mexico for defining industries and classifying establishments by industry. It replaces the SIC in the United States.
Non-Volatile Memory
      A memory device that maintains the memory states after power is removed.
Package
      The protective container for an electronic component, with terminals to provide electrical access to the components inside.
Passive Component
      An electrical component without "gain" or current-switching capability. Commonly used when referring to resistors, capacitors or inductors.
Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
      A substrate on which a predetermined pattern or printed wiring and printed elements has been formed. Also called a printed wiring board (PWB).
PROM (Programmable Read-Only Memory)
      A read-only memory that can be programmed after manufacture by external equipment. Typically PROMs utilize fusible links that may be burned open to produce a logic bit in a specific location.
RAM (Random-Access Memory)
      Stores digital information temporarily and can be changed as required. It constitutes the basic (read/write) storage element in a computer.
Resistor
      An electrical component used to modify voltage or current in a circuit by providing resistance.
ROM (Read-Only Memory)
      Permanently stores information repeatedly used, such as tables of data, characters of electronic displays, etc. Unlike RAM, ROM cannot be altered.
Semiconductor
      A material with properties of both a conductor and an insulator. Common semiconductors include silicon and germanium.
Silicon (Si)
      The basic element used in most semiconductor devices; i.e.; diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits.
SSI (Small-Scale Integration)
      ICs containing fewer than 30 transistors.
Submicron
      Dimensions smaller than one micron.
Semiconductor Packaging/Assembly
      The final stage of semiconductor manufacturing, where the active device is encased in a plastic, ceramic or metal package. Also referred to as "back-end" processing
Substrate
      The material on which a microelectronic device is built. Such material may be active, like silicon, or passive, like alumina ceramic.
Transformer
      An electrical component used to modify voltage or other characteristics between one circuit and another.
Transistor
      An active semiconductor device with three electrodes that may be either an amplifier or a switch.
ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration)
      ICs containing 10 million or more transistors.
VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration)
      ICs that contain 100,000 or more transistors, but less than 10 million.
Volatile Memory
      Memory devices that lose the stored states when power is removed.
Wafer
      A thin disk of semiconductor material (usually silicon) on which many separate chips can be fabricated.
Wafer Fabrication
      See Fabrication
WTO (World Trade Organization)
      Created by the Uruguay Round to succeed GATT on January 1, 1995. It expands GATT's rules to apply to trade in services and intellectual property rights. A tribunal to adjudicate trade disputes also was established.

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