One cannot imagine the world now and in the future without integrated circuits (IC or generally known as chips). With worldwide revenue projected to be about $500 billion by the end of 2019, the chip industry, not unlike its energy counterpart, supplies the critical goods and services that sustain and advance human civilization.
Pedagogically, study of IC consists of three interconnected areas, Design, Devices, and Process Technology. Chips are generally designed to meet certain market needs such as high-power devices for the automobile industry, low-temperature electronics for space applications, or high- performance computing, to name just a few. Chip design requires familiarity with various software tools as well as basic understanding of semiconductor devices.
Since the first transistor was invented in 1947, the current chip technology has advanced to a point where the largest number of transistors contained in one single chip exceeds 50 billion, while the feature size in each transistor can be as small as a few nanometers. Despite such phenomenal technology developments, the transistor operation is still based on the understanding of fundamental semiconductor materials and device physics.
What has sustained the growth of the chip industry in the past 70-plus years is the ability to manufacture in mass scale and at an affordable cost to the consumers. Such ability includes but not limited to downward scaling of the minimum feature size in a chip and the development of new materials. Thus the study of chip fabrication or processing is a critical part of an IC technology curriculum.
Dr. Shoba Krishnan, Dr. Cary Yang, Dr. Mahmudur Rahman