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Emerging Technologies in Electronics

[TSMC - Digitimes]

- Emerging Technologies in Electronics

Following are examples of emerging technologies in electronics.

  • E-Textiles: Electronic textiles (or smart clothing) are fabrics integrated with digital and electronic components to add value to the user. Many other applications are based on the integration of electronics into textiles, such as interior design technologies. This innovative technology holds a lot of promise as it can do things that conventional fabrics cannot, such as heat conduction and the ability to communicate, transform, and grow. Smart clothing technology can help keep a tab on people’s health by insulating and sharing with the health professionals, empowering soldiers with all-weather, communicable uniforms. There will be infinite uses of such futuristic technologies. 
  • Spintronics: Spintronics (or spin electronics) refers to the intrinsic spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment in solid-state physics. It is very different from conventional electronics: along with the state of charge, electron spins increase the degree of freedom. Spintronic systems can be used to store and transfer data efficiently. This technology also has great potential in the field of neuromorphic computing and quantum computing. The technology is also being used in the medical field in diagnosing cancer and can potentially be used extensively in digital electronics. 
  • 3D Biometrics: The use of biometric information increases year after year, especially in banking, forensic science, and public safety. Till now, we are already used to 2D biometrics. However, some advanced biometric techniques have been developed in recent years. This includes 3D fingerprints, 3D palm printing, 3D ear, and 3D facial recognition techniques. Whether for human-computer interaction purposes or enhanced security, there will be a broad application of robust biometrics in the coming years. 
  • Electronic Skin and Tongue: Stretchable, flexible, and self-healing materials that can mimic animal or human skin characteristics are called electronic skin. There is a wide range of fabrics that respond to pressure and heat changes and are capable of measuring information through physical interaction. These materials can create advanced prosthetics, soft robotics, health monitoring, and artificial intelligence, right from the science fiction movies!  Future designs for new electronic skins would include materials with high mechanical strength, better detection ability, recyclability, and self-healing properties. An electronic language, on the other hand, measures and compares tastes. It contains multiple sensors; each has a different reaction spectrum capable of detecting organic and inorganic compounds. Electronic languages have applications in various fields, from the food and beverage sector to the pharmaceutical industry. It is also used to compare target products and monitor environmental parameters. So much happening in this un-exploited field.  
  • Flexible Screen: Many consumer electronics manufacturers are showing interest in flexible displays – they are working to apply this technology to smartphones and tablets. OLEDs based on a flexible substrate (be it metal, plastic, or glass) are among the most promising electronic visual displays that can be bent. The metal and glass panels used in flexible OLEDs are very thin, light, durable, and virtually shatterproof. At CES 2018, LG unveiled the prototype of a rollable 65-inch 4K OLED display. The TV unrolls at the touch of a button and then moves out of sight when not needed. Similarly, in September 2019, Samsung launched a new foldable smartphone used as a tablet and smartphone. The current generation folding devices might have many flaws. They might be technology demonstrators with high price-tags. However, flexible displays evolve into something very different, leading to remarkable developments in the tech industry in the coming years.


- Microelectronics

Microelectronics is a subfield of electronics. As the name suggests, microelectronics relates to the study and manufacture (or microfabrication) of very small electronic designs and components. Usually, but not always, this means micrometre-scale or smaller. These devices are typically made from semiconductor materials. Many components of normal electronic design are available in a microelectronic equivalent. These include transistors, capacitors, inductors, resistors, diodes and (naturally) insulators and conductors can all be found in microelectronic devices. Unique wiring techniques such as wire bonding are also often used in microelectronics because of the unusually small size of the components, leads and pads. This technique requires specialized equipment and is expensive.  

Digital integrated circuits (ICs) consist of billions of transistors, resistors, diodes, and capacitors. Analog circuits commonly contain resistors and capacitors as well. Inductors are used in some high frequency analog circuits, but tend to occupy larger chip area due to their lower reactance at low frequencies. Gyrators can replace them in many applications. 

As techniques have improved, the scale of microelectronic components has continued to decrease. At smaller scales, the relative impact of intrinsic circuit properties such as interconnections may become more significant. These are called parasitic effects, and the goal of the microelectronics design engineer is to find ways to compensate for or to minimize these effects, while delivering smaller, faster, and cheaper devices. 

Today, microelectronics design is largely aided by Electronic Design Automation software.

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