In many application areas, in particular the aerospace and computing fields, microminiaturisation of electronic circuits so as to save space and weight is extremely worth while. Following the development of the planar process, it has become possible to form vast numbers of transistors, diodes, resistors and capacitors and therefore entire electronic circuits within a single chip of semiconducting material. Circuits of this type are known as integrated circuits, often abbreviated to ICs. Almost any circuit function is now available in integrated-circuit form from a variety of commercial sources. Perhaps the most widely used ICs are wide-band operational amplifiers and logic units. Apart from the main advantage of size, the development of IC technology has resulted in a staggering saving in cost per unit compared to similar discrete circuits.
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