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Battery chargers for successive generations of Apple's iPod.

Miniaturization (Br.Eng.: Miniaturisation) is the trend to manufacture ever smaller mechanical, optical and electronic products and devices. Examples include miniaturization of mobile phones, computers and vehicle engine downsizing. In electronics, the exponential scaling and miniaturization of silicon MOSFETs (MOS transistors)[1][2][3] leads to the number of transistors on an integrated circuit chip doubling every two years,[4][5] an observation known as Moore's law.[6][7] This leads to MOS integrated circuits such as microprocessors and memory chips being built with increasing transistor density, faster performance, and lower power consumption, enabling the miniaturization of electronic devices.[8][3]


The history of miniaturization is associated with the history of information technology based on the succession of switching devices, each smaller, faster, cheaper than its predecessor.[9] During the period referred to as the Second Industrial Revolution, miniaturization was confined to two-dimensional electronic circuits used for the manipulation of information.[10] This orientation is demonstrated in the use of vacuum tubes in the first general-purpose computers. The technology gave way to the development of transistors in the 1950s and then the integrated circuit (IC) approach developed afterward.[9]

Demonstrating a miniature television device in 1963

The MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor, or MOS transistor) was invented by Mohamed M. Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959, and demonstrated in 1960.[11] It was the first truly compact transistor that could be miniaturized and mass-produced for a wide range of uses,[12] due to its high scalability[1] and low power consumption, leading to increasing transistor density.[5] This made it possible to build high-density IC chips,[13] enabling what would later be known as Moore's law.[5]

In the early 1960s, Gordon E. Moore, who later founded Intel, recognized that the ideal electrical and scaling characteristics of MOSFET devices would lead to rapidly increasing integration levels and unparalleled growth in electronic applications.[14] Moore's law, which was described by Gordon Moore in 1965 and later named after him,[15] predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit for minimum component cost doubles every 18 months.[6][7]

In 1974, Robert H. Dennard at IBM recognized the rapid MOSFET scaling technology and formulated the related Dennard scaling rule.[16][17] MOSFET scaling and miniaturization has since been the key driving force behind Moore's law.[4] This enables integrated circuits such as microprocessors and memory chips to be built in smaller sizes and with greater transistor density.

Moore described the development of miniaturization in 1975 during the International Electron Devices meeting, where he confirmed his earlier prediction that silicon integrated circuit would dominate electronics, underscoring that during the period such circuits were already high-performance devices and starting to become cheaper. This was made possible by a reliable manufacturing process, which involved the fabrication in a batch process. It employed photolithographic, mechanical, and chemical processing steps to create multiple transistors on a single wafer of silicon.[18] The measure of this process was its yield, which is the ratio of working devices to those with defects and, given a satisfactory yield, a smaller transistor means that more can be on a single wafer, making each one cheaper to produce.[18]


Miniaturization became a trend in the last fifty years and came to cover not just electronic but also mechanical devices.[19] By 2004, electronic companies were producing silicon integrated circuit chips with switching MOS transistors that had feature size as small as 130 nanometers (nm) and development was also underway for chips that are merely few nanometers in size through the nanotechnology initiative.[20] The focus is to make components smaller to increase the number that can be integrated into a single wafer and this required critical innovations, which include increasing wafer size, the development of sophisticated metal connections between the chip's circuits, and improvement in the polymers used for masks (photoresists) in the photolithography processes.[15] These last two are the areas where miniaturization has moved into the nanometer range.[15]

Miniaturization in electronics is advancing rapidly due to the comparative ease in miniaturizing electrical devices.[19] The process for mechanical devices, on the other hand, is more complex due to the way the structural properties of its parts change as they shrink.[19] It is said that the so-called Third Industrial Revolution is based on economically viable technologies that can shrink three-dimensional objects.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Motoyoshi, M. (2009). "Through-Silicon Via (TSV)" (PDF). Proceedings of the IEEE. 97 (1): 43–48. doi:10.1109/JPROC.2008.2007462. ISSN 0018-9219. S2CID 29105721. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-07-19.
  2. ^ "Tortoise of Transistors Wins the Race - CHM Revolution". Computer History Museum. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  3. ^ a b Colinge, Jean-Pierre; Colinge, C. A. (2005). Physics of Semiconductor Devices. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 165. ISBN 9780387285238.
  4. ^ a b Siozios, Kostas; Anagnostos, Dimitrios; Soudris, Dimitrios; Kosmatopoulos, Elias (2018). IoT for Smart Grids: Design Challenges and Paradigms. Springer. p. 167. ISBN 9783030036409.
  5. ^ a b c "Transistors Keep Moore's Law Alive". EETimes. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Cramming more components onto integrated circuits" (PDF). Electronics Magazine. 1965. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 18, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Excerpts from A Conversation with Gordon Moore: Moore's Law" (PDF). Intel Corporation. 2005. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 29, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2006.
  8. ^ Sridharan, K.; Pudi, Vikramkumar (2015). Design of Arithmetic Circuits in Quantum Dot Cellular Automata Nanotechnology. Springer. p. 1. ISBN 9783319166889.
  9. ^ a b Sharma, Karl (2010). Nanostructuring Operations in Nanoscale Science and Engineering. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. pp. 16. ISBN 9780071626095.
  10. ^ a b Ghosh, Amitabha; Corves, Burkhard (2015). Introduction to Micromechanisms and Microactuators. Heidelberg: Springer. p. 32. ISBN 9788132221432.
  11. ^ "1960 – Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) Transistor Demonstrated: John Atalla and Dawon Kahng fabricate working transistors and demonstrate the first successful MOS field-effect amplifier". Computer History Museum.
  12. ^ Moskowitz, Sanford L. (2016). Advanced Materials Innovation: Managing Global Technology in the 21st century. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 165–167. ISBN 9780470508923.
  13. ^ "Who Invented the Transistor?". Computer History Museum. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  14. ^ Golio, Mike; Golio, Janet (2018). RF and Microwave Passive and Active Technologies. CRC Press. p. 18–5. ISBN 9781420006728.
  15. ^ a b c Guston, David (2010). Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications. p. 440. ISBN 9781412969871.
  16. ^ McMenamin, Adrian (April 15, 2013). "The end of Dennard scaling". Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  17. ^ Streetman, Ben G.; Banerjee, Sanjay Kumar (2016). Solid state electronic devices. Boston: Pearson. p. 341. ISBN 978-1-292-06055-2. OCLC 908999844.
  18. ^ a b Brock, David; Moore, Gordon (2006). Understanding Moore's Law: Four Decades of Innovation. Philadelphia, PA: Chemical Heritage Press. p. 26. ISBN 0941901416.
  19. ^ a b c Van Riper, A. Bowdoin (2002). Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 193. ISBN 0313318220.
  20. ^ Jha, B.B; Galgali, R.K.; Misra, Vibhuti (2004). Futuristic Materials. New Delhi: Allied Publishers. p. 55. ISBN 8177646168.

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