Technology Glossary

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Comprehensive term for the manufacture and processing of wafers with a diameter of 300 millimeters.

A

“Mixed-signal” is a generic term for integrated circuits that operate simultaneously with analog and digital signals. Owing to similar requirements in terms of development and manufacturing processes, they are generally grouped together with integrated circuits operating exclusively with analog signals, hence giving rise to the combination “analog-mixed-signal”.

Application Specific Integrated Circuit. Logic IC specially constructed for a specific application and customer; implemented on an integrated circuit.

Authentication means the ability to prove one’s own identity, i.e., proof of the authentic original. However, authentication does not necessarily refer to people only, but also to any tangible or intangible object, such as a device or an electronic document. A user can be authenticated in any one of three different ways: 1.) By providing a certain piece of information, i.e., the user knows something, such as a password; 2.) Through the use of a possession, i.e., the user possesses something, such as a key; 3.) Through the direct presence of the user, i.e., the user is someone or something, such as in the form of a biometric feature.

B

The part of the semiconductor manufacturing process that happens after the wafer has left the cleanroom (see frontend manufacturing). This includes testing the chips at wafer level, repairing the chips if necessary, dicing the wafers and packaging the individual chips. There is a growing trend among semiconductor manufacturers to outsource the assembly, and sometimes even the testing, to independent assembly companies. Much of the assembly capacity is based in the Pacific Rim countries.

A bare die is a single, unpackaged chip. Bare die business means the sale of fully processed, unpackaged chips. The packaging and subsequent testing of the packaged chips is performed by the customer. Bare die business is mostly conducted with IGBT module manufacturers that produce their own modules but not their own semiconductors.

A power bipolar transistor is a specialized version of a bipolar transistor that is optimized for conducting and blocking large electric currents (up to several hundred amperes) and very high voltages (up to several 1,000 volts). In industry, the power bipolar transistor – like the power MOSFET (see MOSFET) often used as an alternative – constitutes an important industrial semiconductor component for influencing electric current.

C

Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. Standard semiconductor manufacturing technology used to manufacture microchips with low power usage and a high level of integration.

In contrast to silicon-based semiconductors, compound semiconductors consist of several chemical elements. The combination of materials from the chemical main group III (e.g. gallium) and V (e.g. nitrogen) have the electrical conductivity of semiconductors. This also applies to the combination of materials from the main group IV (carbon, silicon). These compound semiconductors (e.g. gallium nitride or silicon carbide) are therefore of highest importance in technical applications in semiconductor technology, especially for power semiconductors.

Control unit that can convert AC voltages of various rates and frequencies. This is achieved by means of power electronics. Converters are used in wind turbines, for example, in order to feed fluctuating wind energy into the power network with a voltage of constant frequency. In electric drive technology, for example, in engine controllers and trains, a converter is used to generate an output voltage of variable, load-dependent frequency from a mains supply of constant frequency.

E

From the Greek epi “upon” and taxis ”arrangement” or “orientation”. Epitaxy is a form of crystalline growth that occurs both in nature (such as in minerals) and in the technical world. In semiconductor technology, epitaxy is the artificial growth of crystalline layers on a substrate, which is usually a wafer. Epitaxy enables various doping profiles for transistors to be created, which are not feasible using other methods such as diffusion or ion implantation.

F

Flexible AC Transmission System – control systems used in electrical engineering. They are used in the field of electrical power supply to specifically control power transmission and distribution in AC networks, in which in principle components of power electronics and therefore power semiconductors such as IGBT modules are used. The controlling of power transfers can be implemented in alternating current networks by changing the idle and active power by means of capacitor batteries or compensation coils.

Frontend process is the designation for all process steps in cleanrooms that the entire wafer must complete. These are lithography, diffusion, ion implantation and application of circuitry levels. Some stations must be completed a number of times. At the end of the frontend process, the wafer may have been through as many as 500 individual process steps. After the conclusion of the frontend manufacturing, the processed wafers are transferred to backend manufacturing for testing and packaging (see Backend manufacturing).

G

Gallium nitride (abbreviated to GaN) is a compound semiconductor material made from gallium (chemical symbol Ga) and nitrogen (chemical symbol N). GaN is used for components including radio-frequency power MOSFETs (see MOSFET) on account of the material’s special properties (such as good thermal conductivity and high electron mobility).

Chemical symbol of gallium nitride (see Gallium nitride).

H

A sensor based on the Hall principle, used for measuring magnetic fields, named after the US physicist Edwin Herbert Hall (1855 – 1938). Hall sensors are used in automobiles, for example, for detecting pedal positions or for measuring the speed at which shafts rotate.

High-voltage direct-current transmission. HVDC transmission is a method of transmitting electrical energy at high directcurrent voltages of up to 800,000 volts over distances of more than 1,000 kilometers. HVDC transmission is also used for connecting offshore wind farms to the electricity grid on the mainland.

I

Integrated Circuit. Electronic Component parts composed of semiconductor materials such as silicon; numerous components, including transistors, resistors, capacitors and diodes can be integrated into ICs and interconnected.

Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor Module. IGBTs are semiconductor components used increasingly in power electronics due to their robustness, high blocking voltage, and their ability to be triggered with negligible power. Modules are formed using several IGBTs in parallel within a single casing. These modules are used to drive electric motors both in automotive and industrial applications. Motor speed and torque can be regulated along a gradual scale. Trains such as Germany’s ICE and France’s TGV use IGBT modules for an efficient and rapid electrical drive control.

Integrity Guard (IG) is a revolutionary security technology designed for chip cards and security applications, with which Infineon is ringing in a new era in the field of hardware-based security. IG was specially developed for sophisticated, longlife applications such as payment cards and government identification documents. IG enables a security controller for the first time to provide complete error detection and comprehensive encryption of all chip functions across the entire data path within the chip. For this reason it is known as “digital security”. IG is used in the security controllers of the SLE 77 and 78 families and has won numerous international awards.

An inverter, also called a DC/AC converter, is an electrical device for converting DC voltage into AC voltage, or direct current into alternating current. Inverters are used in solar power plants, for example, for converting the DC voltage generated in the solar modules into AC voltage, which is then fed into the electricity network.

M

Micro-electro-mechanical system. A micro-electro-mechanical system, or simply a microsystem, is a miniaturized device, assembly or part that contains components of minute dimensions (only measurable in micrometers) that work together as a system. Usually a microsystem consists of one or more sensors, actuators and control electronics on one chip. Infineon manufactures microphones as MEMS. Due to their diminutive size, low power consumption, good shielding from interfering signals and low-cost production, these types of microphone are being increasingly installed in mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, cameras, and accessories such as headsets and hearing aids.

Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor. MOSFET is currently the most widely used transistor architecture. MOSFETs are used both in highly integrated circuits and in power electronics as special power MOSFETs.

N

Near field communication. An international communication standard for contactless data exchange over short distances. The initial drafts of the communication standard appeared several years ago, but the technology did not break through until 2011 when it was included in the first smartphones. NFC can be used as an access key to content on terminals and for services such as cashless payment and paperless ticketing.

P

Power transistor is a term used in electronics to refer to a transistor for switching or controlling large voltages, currents and outputs. There is no standard method of differentiating between transistors for signal processing and power transistors. Power transistors are mainly produced in packages that enable installation on heat sinks, as it is otherwise impossible to handle the dissipation loss of several kilowatts that occurs with some types and applications.

S

A special diode that has a metal-semiconductor junction rather than a semiconductor-semiconductor junction. The most frequently used semiconductor material up to 250 volts is silicon. Silicon carbide (SiC) is used for voltages in excess of 300 volts (see Silicon Carbide). SiC Schottky diodes offer a number of advantages over conventional diodes in power electronics. When used together with IGBT transistors, it is possible to dramatically reduce switching losses in the diode itself, as well as in the transistor. The name derives from the German physicist Walter Schottky
(1886 – 1976).

Chemical symbol of silicon carbide (see Silicon carbide.

Compound semiconductor made from silicon (chemical symbol Si) and carbon (chemical symbol C). The abbreviation is SiC. Because of its special material properties (e.g. good thermal conductivity), SiC is used for Schottky diodes, as well as elsewhere (see Schottky diode).

A switch-mode power supply is an electronic module that transforms an AC voltage into a DC voltage. Switch-mode power supplies are more efficient than mains transformers and can be more compact and lighter than conventional power supplies containing a heavy transformer with a ferrous core. Switch-mode power supplies are mainly used in PCs, notebooks and servers. However, they also achieve a very high level of efficiency even at low power, so they are increasingly found in plug-in power supply units, for example, as chargers for mobile phones.

T

A wafer is typically around 350 microns (μm) thick when sawn into individual chips. A thin wafer is one that has been polished down to less than 200 microns thick (a human hair or a sheet of paper, by comparison, is about 60 microns thick). Thin wafer technology offers benefits: Thinner chips mean losses can be reduced and the heat generated can be dissipated more effectively. Another advantage is that electrically active patterns can be produced on the backside as well, enabling the chip to provide completely new functions. Thin wafer chips also allow more compact packages.

Trusted Platform Module. A chip that adds elementary security functions such as license and data protection to a computer or similar device. TPMs can be integrated into tablet PCs, smartphones and consumer electronics as well as PCs and notebooks. A trusted computing platform (see Trusted Computing) can be created by combining a specially configured operating system and appropriate software with a device containing a TPM.

Trusted Computing means that the hardware and software used in PCs, as well as other computer-controlled systems, such as mobile phones, can be controlled. This is achieved by means of an additional chip, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which can use cryptography to measure the integrity of the hardware and of the software data structures, while also saving these values in a verifiable way.