Back in the days when I studied microelectronics, I made my own integrated circuit. That was an incredible experience! I learned so much. And it gave me a pretty good insight into what this component is.
An integrated circuit is simply any type of circuit, made to fit onto a chip. Sometimes, we call it a chip, a microchip or an IC (Integrated Circuit).
What It Does To Your Circuit
An integrated circuit is any kind of circuit that is integrated onto a chip. Therefore, what it does to your circuit depends on the type of circuit. It can be an amplifier, a radio transmitter, a microcontroller or any other circuit you can think of.
The chip I made was a Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Radar chip. It’s a really cool technology. Check out some of the radar circuits I have made using this technology.
By making a circuit on a small chip, it’s much easier to make advanced projects. Let’s say you want to make a tracking device for your car. You can find a GPS chip for positioning, a GSM chip to send text messages, and a microcontroller chip to control everything. Then create a printed circuit board design to connect them all.
Integrated circuits make your life building circuits, so much easier.
How Do You Make an Integrated Circuit?
You create an integrated circuit by drawing different rectangles in a computer program for designing chips. The different rectangles represent different types of material. This sounds a bit weird. But every component is made up from different materials. So, you actually design every component from scratch by putting together different materials. Here is the chip I designed back in 2008:
This design is then transferred to a silicon wafer by using a complex process of etching and stereolithography. (Learn more about this process here)
How To Figure Out What a Specific Chip Does
If you have an integrated circuit, but you don’t know what it does, don’t worry. Usually it very easy to figure out what it does. Just take the model number that you find on the top, and type it into Google with “datasheet” after.
Usually, you will find a PDF-file of the datasheet. The datasheet is a technical document that describes the component. By opening and reading the first page of the datasheet, you should be able to get an understanding of what it does.
But, if your chip does not have anything written on it, it is almost impossible to figure out what it does.