Amazing Circuitry Advances in the 21st Century

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Amazing Circuitry Advances in the 21st Century


We take them for granted—the microscopic, and soon to be nanoscopic, circuitry that makes our electronic and digital lives possible.The advancement of the electronic circuit has taken the average computer from being the size of a house to small enough to hold in the palm of your hand.

Electronics technology has taken a leap forward in the last few decades, and the pace of this advancement continues to accelerate. In a world that is now almost entirely reliant on computers and electronic communication technology, it can be easy to forget about or dismiss the microscopic, and soon to be nanoscopic, circuitry that makes it all possible. It is the advancement of the circuit that has taken the average computer from being the size of a house to small enough to hold in the palm of your hand.

The Role of a Circuit

All computers and most types of electronic systems function based on a surprisingly simple “on” or “off” principle. The function of a circuit in any electronic device is to provide this on or off switch that regulates the amount of power flowing through the device. More advanced computing power simply uses a greater number of circuit switches to provide greater complexity. The key advancement in computer technology in the last century has been to make this simple technological concept increasingly smaller and more efficient. Two basic principles stand out in the development of circuit and thus computer chip technology. The more circuits you can put into a smaller space, the more powerful, smaller and lighter the resulting machine will be. At the same time the faster and cheaper you can produce those circuit boards, the less expensive the end-product will become. Advances in both these principles are the cornerstone of our technological age.

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The Microchip

One of the most significant advances in circuit technology is the microchip. A microchip is a tiny wafer of semi-conductive material, usually silicon derived from ultra-refined sand, upon which microscopic circuits can be etched to create an integrated circuit. The full process of creating a microchip is complex, but the result makes modern computers possible. This etched circuit technology uses computer designs and light to create circuits in the microscale.

The Printed Circuit Board

Originally, circuit boards were time consuming and difficult to construct. They involved large and bulky materials that usually had to be assembled by hand. They were prone to impurities and failures that hampered their functionality. Some companies, like Streamline Circuits, know that the printed circuit board, or PCB, was a breakthrough the circuit manufacturing process that allowed the circuit material to be “printed” onto a board of nonconductive material like fiberglass. The printed material is usually metallic “ink” based on copper that creates the conductive pathways. The PCB can be easily custom designed using computers and rapidly assembled to very precise specifications. This process, when combined with other circuit advances, is what makes most technology affordable for the average consumer today.


Carbon Nanotube Circuits

There is a fear among modern technology manufactures that the standard silicon circuit may be reaching its apex. A stall in circuit technology means a halt to electronics advancement. The cutting edge of circuit design now involves hybrid chips that include carbon nanotubes in the traditional silicon structure. This allows the circuit to function with much greater speed, so that less circuits are needed to provide the same power. This increase in efficiency is predicted to make up for the inability to add more circuits to future computer chips.

Electronics technology continues to advance rapidly. As long as our technology is based on the flow of electrons through conductors, the circuit will continue to play a vital role in our everyday life.

By  Rachelle WilberEmbed


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