by Matt Mcgowan @ phys.org:
Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have designed integrated circuits that can survive at temperatures greater than 350 degrees Celsius – or roughly 660 degrees Fahrenheit. Their work, funded by the National Science Foundation, will improve the functioning of processors, drivers, controllers and other analog and digital circuits used in power electronics, automobiles and aerospace equipment – all of which must perform at high and often extreme temperatures.
“This ruggedness allows these circuits to be placed in locations where standard silicon-based parts can’t survive,” said Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor. “The circuit blocks we designed contributed to superior performance of signal processing, controllers and driver circuitry. We are extremely excited about the results so far.”
Circuits capable of functioning at temperatures greater than 650 degrees fahrenheit - [Link]
Stacking memory is just most obvious application of this ultra-cheap method of stacking 3D circuitry within the metallization layers of standard CMOS chips, but I’m sure that when designers put on their thinking cap they’ll find many more useful applications.: R. Colin Johnson @NextGenLog
Chips On-the-Cheap Funded by SRC – [Link]
by Ken Shirriff:
A die photo of the interesting but little-known TL431 power supply IC provides an opportunity to explore how analog circuits are implemented in silicon. While the circuit below may look like a maze, the chip is actually relatively simple and can be reverse-engineered with a bit of examination. This article explains how transistors, resistors, and other components are implemented in silicon to form the chip below.
The TL431 is a “programmable precision reference” and is commonly used in switching power supplies, where it provides feedback indicating if the output voltage is too high or too low. By using a special circuit called a bandgap, the TL431 provides a stable voltage reference across a wide temperature range. The block diagram of the TL431 below shows that it has a 2.5 volt reference and a comparator, but looking at the die shows that internally it is quite different from the block diagram.
Reverse-engineering the TL431 - [Link]
by Nancy Owano:
When a global leader in providing equipment, services and software used for manufacturing semiconductors makes an announcement, industry players sit up and listen, as the technologies are going to impact market activity in devices such as smartphones, flat screen TVs and solar panels. Tuesday’s announcement from Applied Materials was big. The Santa Clara, California based equipment supplier announced the launch of its Endura Volta CVD Cobalt chip making machine. This is the only tool capable of encapsulating copper interconnects in logic chips beyond the 28nm node by depositing precise, thin cobalt films, said the company.
Applied Materials sets cobalt on path to future chips - [Link]
by Michael Dunn:
Sometimes, we forget the implications of Moore’s Law, and just how amazing our IC technology is compared to yesteryear’s. Pack-rat that I am, it’s no trouble for me to peruse what used to pass for high-tech – and now, you can have a look at it too!
IC packages used to be prettier, I think. Lots more gold and white ceramic happening. Packages that look as though they could go to outer space without breaking a sweat.
Remembrance of chips past - [Link]
Instructions for Soldering and Desoldering SMDs featuring up-close shots of fine-pitch soldering.
Surface Mount Soldering 101 - [Link]
Microchips – are indeed can be considered a black box – as long as it’s working you normally don’t look inside.
But what if you want to?
Today we’ll show how to “open” chips and what’s inside.
How to «open» microchip and what’s inside? - [Link]
The era of the MEMS switch may finally be here thanks to the research efforts of GE. Its MEMS chip, as small as 50 microns square, swathes as fast as 3 GHz and can handle up to 5-kiloWatts of power, making it a candidate for everything from industrial power control, to turning on light bulbs to switching antennas inside a smartphone.
MEMS Switch from GE claims fastest/highest Power Crown - [Link]
Smallest (2mm x 2.5mm), 8A, DC-DC Solution with Integrated MOSFETs in the Market
The MAX15108A high-efficiency, current-mode, synchronous step-down switching regulator with integrated power switches delivers up to 8A of output current. The regulator operates from 2.7V to 5.5V and provides an output voltage from 0.6V up to 95% of the input voltage, making the device ideal for distributed power systems, portable devices, and preregulation applications.
The IC utilizes a current-mode control architecture with a high gain transconductance error amplifier. The current-mode control architecture facilitates easy compensation design and ensures cycle-by-cycle current limit with fast response to line and load transients.
MAX15108A – High-Efficiency, 8A, Step-Down Switching Regulator - [Link]
A research team from National Taiwan University, National Taipei University of Technology and Chang Gung University have described how they developed a free-swimming remote-controlled bare die at the IEEE International Solid-State circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco. The 21.2 mm square die made by TSMC using a 0.35 µm process, is able to travel at 0.3 mm/s submerged in a liquid. A similar device was presented at the ISSCC in 2012, which used Lorentz forces for propulsion. This design however uses electrodes along the four edges of the chip to generate bubbles as a product of electrolysis. [via]
A Free-Swimming Chip - [Link]