Hybrid integrated circuit

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An (orange-epoxy) encapsulated hybrid circuit on a printed circuit board.

A hybrid integrated circuit, HIC, hybrid microcircuit, or simply hybrid is a miniaturized electronic circuit constructed of individual devices, such as semiconductor devices (e.g. transistors and diodes) and passive components (e.g. resistors, inductors, transformers, and capacitors), bonded to a substrate or printed circuit board (PCB). Hybrid circuits are often encapsulated in epoxy, as shown in the photo. A hybrid circuit serves as a component on a PCB in the same way as a monolithic integrated circuit; the difference between the two types of devices is in how they are constructed and manufactured. The advantage of hybrid circuits is that components which cannot be included in a monolithic IC can be used, e.g., capacitors of large value, wound components, crystals, inductors.

Thick film technology is often used as the interconnecting medium for hybrid integrated circuits. The use of screen printed thick film interconnect provides advantages of versatility over thin film although feature sizes may be larger and deposited resistors wider in tolerance. Multi-layer thick film is a technique for further improvements in integration using a screen printed insulating dielectric to ensure connections between layers are made only where required. One key advantage for the circuit designer is complete freedom in the choice of resistor value in thick film technology. Planar resistors are also screen printed and included in the thick film interconnect design. The composition and dimensions of resistors can be selected to provide desired values. The final resistor value is determined by design and can be adjusted by laser trimming. Once the hybrid circuit is fully populated with components, fine tuning prior to final test may be achieved by active laser trimming.

Some modern hybrid circuit technologies, such as LTCC-substrate hybrids, allow for embedding of components within the layers of a multi-layer substrate in addition to components placed on the surface of the substrate. This technology produces a circuit that is, to some degree, three-dimensional.

Steps in manufacturing Solid Logic Technology hybrid wafers used in the IBM System/360 and other IBM computers of the mid-1960s. The process starts with a blank ceramic wafer 1/2 inch square. Circuits are laid down first, followed by resistive material. The circuits are metalized and the resistors trimmed to the desired value. Then discrete transistors and diodes are added and the package encapsulated. Display at the Computer History Museum.

Other electronic hybrids[edit]

In the early days of telephones, separate modules containing transformers and resistors were called hybrids or hybrid coils; they have been replaced by semiconductor integrated circuits.

In the early days of transistors the term hybrid circuit was used to describe circuits with both transistors and vacuum tubes; e.g., an audio amplifier with transistors used for voltage amplification followed by a vacuum tube power output stage, as suitable power transistors were not available. This usage, and the devices, are obsolete, however amplifiers that use a tube preamplifier stage coupled with a solid state output stage are still in production, and are called hybrid amplifiers in reference to this.

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