Integrated Circuits

Contributors: Jimb0
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Inside the IC

When we think integrated circuits, little black chips are what come to mind. But what’s inside that black box?

Internal view of an IC

The guts of an integrated circuit, visible after removing the top.

The real “meat” to an IC is a complex layering of semiconductor wafers, copper, and other materials, which interconnect to form transistors, resistors or other components in a circuit. The cut and formed combination of these wafers is called a die.

Overview of internal IC

An overview of an IC die.

While the IC itself is tiny, the wafers of semiconductor and layers of copper it consists of are incredibly thin. The connections between the layers are very intricate. Here’s a zoomed in section of the die above:

Microscopic view of an IC

An IC die is the circuit in its smallest possible form, too small to solder or connect to. To make our job of connecting to the IC easier, we package the die. The IC package turns the delicate, tiny die, into the black chip we’re all familiar with.