Over the past five decades, microelectronics has revolutionized our lives. While beyond the realm of possibility a few decades ago, cellphones, digital cameras, laptop computers, and many other electronic products have now become an integral part of our daily affairs.
Learning microelectronics can be fun. As we learn how each device operates, how devices comprise circuits that perform interesting and useful functions, and how circuits form sophisticated systems, we begin to see the beauty of microelectronics and appreciate the reasons for its explosive growth.
This chapter gives an overview of microelectronics so as to provide a context for the material presented in this book. We introduce examples of microelectronic systems and identify important circuit “functions” that they employ. We also provide a review of basic circuit theory to refresh the reader’s memory.
The general area of electronics began about a century ago and proved instrumental in the radio and radar communications used during the two world wars. Early systems incorporated “vacuum tubes,” amplifying devices that operated with the flow of electrons between plates in a vacuum chamber. However, the finite lifetime and the large size of vacuum tubes motivated researchers to seek an electronic device with better properties.
The first transistor ...