Over the past decades, an information world that encompasses computers, the Internet, wireless communication, and global positioning systems has emerged. The center of this information world is enabled by many tiny integrated circuit (IC) chips embedded in the systems.

ICs are used in many walks of life—in sectors including consumer products, home appliances, automobiles, information technology (IT), telecom, medical, military and aerospace applications. Continuous research and development coupled with nanotechnology will make ICs smaller and more powerful. In the foreseeable future, the size of a computer will shrink to the size of a fingernail and reach the practical limit of an IC that is smaller, faster, cheaper, and consumes low power. The semiconductor industry can help drive nanotechnology; thus, they are mutually beneficial.

The evolution from chip to Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) combines IC manufacturing and micromachining techniques to install motors, sensors, pumps, valves, or radio receivers and antennas on a chip. MEMS applications encompass IT, entertainment, biological, medical, and automotive sectors. Similar IC technologies and manufacturing processes can be applied in manufacturing flat panel display.

Reproduced from the book Semiconductor Manufacturing Handbook. Copyright © 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies. Reproduced by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Written permission from The McGraw-Hill Companies is required for all other uses.