Showing posts tagged 'semiconductor'
18 May 2022
The Angstrom Era of Electronics
Angstrom is a unit of measurement that is most commonly used for extremely small particles or atoms in the fields of physics and chemistry.
However, nanometres are almost too big for new electronic components, and in the not-so-distant future angstrom may be used to measure the size of semiconductors.
It could happen soon
Some large firms have already announced their future plans to move to angstrom within the next decade, which is a huge step in terms of technological advancement.
The most advanced components at the moment are already below 10nm in size, with an average chip being around 14nm. Seeing as 1nm is equal to 10Å it is the logical next step to move to the angstrom.
The size of an atom
The unit (Å) is used to measure atoms, and ionic radius. 1Å is roughly equal to the diameter of one atom. There are certain elements, namely chlorine, sulfur and phosphorus, that have a covalent radius of 1Å, and hydrogen’s size is approximately 0.5Å.
As such, angstrom is mostly used in solid-state physics, chemistry and crystallography.
The origin of the Angstrom
The name of the unit came courtesy of Anders Jonas Ångström, who used the measurement in 1868 to chart the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation in sunlight.
Using this new unit meant that the wavelengths of light could be measured without the decimals or fractions, and the chart was used by people in the fields of solar physics and atomic spectroscopy after its creation.
Will silicon survive?
It’s been quite a while since Moore’s Law was accurate. The methodology worked on the theory that every two years the number of transistors in an integrated circuit (IC) would double, and the manufacturing and consumer cost would decrease. Despite this principle being relatively accurate in 1965, it does not take into account the shrinking size of electronic components.
Silicon, the material used for most semiconductors, has an atomic size of approximately 2nm (20Å) and current transistors are around 14nm. Even as some firms promise to increase the capabilities of silicon semiconductors, you have to wonder if the material will soon need a successor.
Graphene, silicon carbide and gallium nitride have all been thrown into the ring as potential replacements for silicon, but none are developed enough at this stage for production to be widespread. That said, all three of these and several others have received research and development funding in recent years.
How it all measures up
The conversion of nanometres to angstrom may not seem noteworthy in itself, but the change and advancement it signals is phenomenal. It’s exciting to think about what kind of technology could be developed with electronics this size. So, let’s size up the angstrom era and see what the future holds.
11 May 2022
What are GaN and SiC?
Silicon will eventually go out of fashion, and companies are currently heavily investing in finding its protégé. Gallium Nitride (GaN) and Silicon Carbide (SiC) are two semiconductors that are marked as being possible replacements.
Both materials contain more than one element, so they are given the name compound semiconductors. They are also both wide bandgap semiconductors, which means they are more durable and capable of higher performance than their predecessor Silicon (Si).
Could they replace Silicon?
SiC and GaN both have some properties that are superior to Si, and they’re more durable when it comes to higher voltages.
The bandgap of GaN is 3.2eV and SiC has a bandgap of 3.4eV, compared to Si which has a bandgap of only 1.1eV. This gives the two compounds an advantage but would be a downside when it comes to lower voltages.
Again, both GaN and SiC have a greater breakdown field strength than the current semiconductor staple, ten times better than Si. Electron mobility of the two materials, however, is drastically different from each other and from Silicon.
Main advantages of GaN
GaN can be grown by spraying a gaseous raw material onto a substrate, and one such substrate is silicon. This bypasses the need for any specialist manufacturing equipment being produced as the technology is already in place to produce Si.
The electron mobility of GaN is higher than both SiC and Si and can be manufactured at a lower cost than Si, and so produces transistors and integrated circuits with a faster switching speed and lower resistance.
There is always a downside, though, and GaN’s is the low thermal conductivity. GaN can only reach around 60% of SiC’s thermal conductivity which, although still excellent, could end up being a problem for designers.
Is SiC better?
As we’ve just mentioned, SiC has a higher thermal conductivity than its counterpart, which means it would outlast GaN at a higher heat.
SiC also has more versatility than GaN in what type of semiconductor it can become. The doping of SiC can be performed with phosphorous or nitrogen for an N-type semiconductor, or aluminium for a P-type semiconductor.
SiC is considered to be superior in terms of material quality progress, and the wafers have been produced to a bigger size than that of GaN. SiC on SiC wafers beat GaN on SiC wafers in terms of cost too.
SiC is mainly used for Schottky diodes and FET or MOSFET transistors to make converters, inverters, power supplies, battery chargers and motor control systems.
04 May 2022
semiconductors in space
A post about semiconductors being used in space travel would be the perfect place to make dozens of space-themed puns, but let’s stay down to earth on this one.
There are around 2,000 chips used in the manufacture of a single electric vehicle. Imagine, then, how many chips might be used in the International Space Station or a rocket.
Despite the recent decline in the space semiconductor market, it’s looking likely that in the next period there will be a significant increase in profit.
What effect did the pandemic have?
The industry was not exempt from the impact of the shortage and supply chain issues caused by covid. Sales decreased and demand fell by 14.5% in 2020, compared to the year-on-year growth in the years previous.
Due to the shortages, many companies within the industry delayed launches and there was markedly less investment and progress in research and development. However, two years on, the scheduled dates for those postponed launches are fast approaching.
The decline in investment and profit is consequently expected to increase in the next five years. The market is estimated to jump from $2.10 billion in 2021 all the way up to $3.34 billion in 2028. This is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.89%.
What is being tested for the future
In the hopes of ever improving the circuitry of spaceships there are several different newer technologies currently being tested for use in space travel.
Some component options are actually already being tested onboard spacecrafts, both to emulate conditions and to take advantage of the huge vacuum that is outer space. The low-pressure conditions can emulate a clean room, with less risk of particles contaminating the components being manufactured.
Graphene is one of the materials being considered for future space semiconductors. The one-atom-thick semiconductor is being tested by a team of students and companies to see how it reacts to the effects of space. The experiments are taking place with a view to the material possibly being used to improve the accuracy of sensors in the future.
Two teams from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are currently looking at the use of Gallium Nitride (GaN) in space too. This, and other wide bandgap semiconductors show promise due to their performance in high temperatures and at high levels of radiation. They also have the potential to be smaller and more lightweight than their silicon predecessors.
GaN on Silicon Carbide (GaN on SiC) is also being researched as a technology for amplifiers that allows satellites to transmit at high radio frequency from Earth. Funnily enough, it’s actually easier to make this material in space, since the ‘clean room’ vacuum effect makes the process of epitaxy – depositing a crystal substrate on top of another substrate – much more straightforward.
To infinity and beyond!
With the global market looking up for the next five years, there will be a high chance of progress in the development of space-specialised electronic components. With so many possible advancements in the industry, it’s highly likely it won’t be long before we see pioneering tech in space.
To bring us back down to Earth, if you’re looking for electronic components contact Cyclops today to see what they can do for you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the rapid enquiry form on our website.
30 March 2022
The process of making silicon semiconductors
As the global shortage of semiconductors (also called chips) continues, what better time is there to read up on how these intricate, tiny components are made?
One of the reasons the industry can’t catch up with the heightened demand for chips is that creating them takes huge amounts of time and precision. From the starting point of refining quartz sand, to the end product of a tiny chip with the capacity to hold thousands of components, let’s have a quick walkthrough of it all:
Silicon is the most common semiconductor material currently used, and is normally refined from the naturally-occurring material silicon dioxide (SiO₂) or, as you might know it, quartz.
Once the silicon is refined and becomes hyper pure, it is heated to 1420˚C which is above its melting point. Then a single crystal, called the seed, is dipped into the molten mixture and slowly pulled out as the liquid silicon forms a perfect crystalline structure around it. This is the start of our wafers.
Slicing and Cleaning
The large cylinder of silicon is then cut into very fine slices with a diamond saw, and further polished so they are at a perfect thickness to be used in integrated circuits (ICs). This polishing process is undertaken in a clean room, where workers have to wear suits that will not collect particles and will cover their whole body. Even a single speck of dirt could ruin the wafers, so the clean room only allows up to 100 particles per cubic foot of air.
In this stage the silicon is covered with a layer of material called a photoresist, and is then put under a UV light mask to create the pattern of circuits on the wafer. Some of the photoresist layer is washed away by a solvent, and the remaining photoresist is stamped onto the silicon to produce the pattern.
Fun fact – The yellow light often seen in pictures of semiconductor fabs is in the lithography rooms. The photoresist material is sensitive to high frequency light, which is why UV is used to make it soluble. To avoid damaging the rest of the wafer, low frequency yellow light is used in the room.
The process of photolithography can be repeated many times to create the required outlines on each wafer, and it is at this stage that the outline of each individual rectangular chip is printed onto the wafer too.
The fine slices are stacked on top of each other to form the final ICs, with up to 30 unique wafers being used in sequence to create a single computer chip. The outlines of the chips are then cut to separate them from the wafer, and packaged individually to protect them.
The final product
Due to this convoluted, delicate process, the time take to manufacture a single semiconductor is estimated to take up to four months. This, and the specialist facilities that are needed to enable production, results in an extreme amount of care needing to be taken throughout fabrication.
If you’re struggling to source electronic components during this shortage, look no further than Cyclops Electronics. Cyclops specialises in both regular and hard-to-find components. Get in touch now to see how easy finding stock should be, at email@example.com.
23 March 2022
The History of Transistors
Transistors are a vital, ubiquitous electronic component. Their main function is to switch or amplify the electrical current in a circuit, and a modern device like a smartphone can contain between 2 and 4 billion transistors.
So that’s some modern context, but have you ever wondered when the transistor was invented? Or what it looked like?
Going way back to when Ohm’s Law was first discovered in 1820s, people had been aware of circuits and the flow of current. As an extension of this, there was an awareness of conductors.
Following on from this, semiconductors accompanied the birth of the AC-DC (alternating current – direct current) conversion device, the rectifier, in 1874.
Two patents were filed in the 20s and 30s for devices that would have been transistors if they had ever reached past the theoretical stage. In 1925 Julius Lilienfeld of Austria-Hungary filed a patent, but did not end up releasing any papers regarding his research on the field-effect transistor, and so his discoveries were ignored.
Again, in 1934 German physicist Oskar Heil’s patent was on a device that, by applying an electrical field, could control the current in a circuit. With only theoretical ideas, this also did not become the first field effect transistor.
The invention of transistors
The official invention of a working transistor was in 1947, and the device was announced a year later in 1948. The inventors were three physicists working at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey, USA. William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain were part of a semiconductor research subgroup working out of the labs.
One of the first attempts they made at a transistor was Shockley’s semiconductor triode, which was made up of three electrodes, an emitter, a collector and a large low-resistance contact placed on a block of germanium. However, the semiconductor surface trapped electrons, which blocked the main channel from the effect of the external field.
Despite this initial idea not working out, the issue was solved in 1946. After spending some time looking into three-layer structures featuring a reversed and forward-biased junction, they returned to their project on field-effect devices in a year later in 1947. At the end of that year, they found that with two very close contact junctions, with one forward biased and one reverse biased, there would be a slight gain.
The first working transistor featured a strip of gold over a triangle of plastic, finely cut with a razor at the tip to create two contact points with a hair’s breadth between them and placed on top of a block of germanium.
The device was announced in June of 1948 as the transistor – a mix of the words ‘transconductance’, ‘transfer’ and ‘varistor’.
The French connection
At the same time over the water in France, two German physicists working for Compagnie des Freins et Signaux were at a similar stage in the development of a point contact device, which they went on to call the ‘transistron’ when it was released.
Herbert Mataré and Heinrich Welker released the transistron a few months after the Bell Labs transistor was announced but was engineered completely without influence by their American counterpart due to the secrecy around the Bell project.
Where we are now
The first germanium transistors were used in computers as a replacement for their predecessor vacuum tubes, and transistor car radios were produced all within only six years of its invention.
The first transistor was made with germanium, but since the material can’t withstand heats of more than 180˚F (82.2˚C), in 1954 Bell Labs switched to silicon. Later that year Texas Instruments began mass-producing silicon transistors.
First silicon transistor made in 1954 by Bell Labs, then Texas Instruments made first commercial mass produced silicon transistor the same year. Six years later in 1960 the first in the direct bloodline of modern transistors was made, again by Bell Labs – the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect Transistor (MOSFET).
Between then and now, most transistor technology has been based on the MOSFET, with the size shrinking from 40 micrometres when they were first invented, to the current average being about 14 nanometres.
The latest in transistor technology is called the RibbonFET. The technology was announced by Intel in 2021, and is a transistor whose gate surrounds the channel. The tech is due to come into use in 2024 when Intel change from nanometres to, the even smaller measuring unit, Angstrom.
There is also other tech that is being developed as the years march on, including research into the use of 2D materials like graphene.
If you’re looking for electronic components, Cyclops are here to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to order hard-to-find or obsolete electronic components. You can also use the rapid enquiry form on our website https://www.cyclops-electronics.com/
02 March 2022
Could Graphene be used in semiconductors?
A new discovery
Graphene was first isolated at the University of Manchester in 2004. Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov were experimenting on a Friday night (as you do) and found they could create very thin flakes of graphite using sticky tape. When separating these fragments further, they found they could produce flakes that were one atom thick.
Geim and Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their ground-breaking experiments in 2010, and since the two had first identified the material since the 60s it had been a long time coming.
Despite its thinness Graphene is extremely strong, estimated to be 200 times stronger than steel
Is silicon outdated?
Semiconductors are inextricably linked to Moore’s Law, which is the principle that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every year. But that observation Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made in 1965 is now losing speed.
Silicon chips will very soon reach their limit and will be unable to hold any additional transistors, which means that future innovation will require a replacement material. Graphene, with its single-atom thickness, is a contender.
In 2014 hardware company IBM devoted $3 billion to researching replacements for silicon as it believed the material would become obsolete. The company said as chips and transistors get smaller, as small as the current average of 7 nanometers (nm), the integrity of silicon is more at risk.
IBM revealed its new 2nm tech last year, which can hold 50 billion transistors on a single silicon chip, so the material is not going obsolete just yet.
Graphene is nowhere close to being a replacement for silicon, it is still in the development stage and the cost of implementing it into supply chain would be extensive. A lot more research and adjustment is required, and it would have to be introduced step by step to avoid prices skyrocketing and supply chains breaking down.
Graphene is not the only contender to be the replacement for silicon either. Carbon nanotubes are fighting for prominence, and other 2D materials like molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide are also vying for the position.
Another disadvantage of Graphene is that there is no bandgap, which means the semiconductor can’t be switched off. The possibly jagged edges of the material could also pierce the cell membranes which may disrupt functions.
Thanks to its 2D properties Graphene is also being studied for its potential uses in other areas. In relation to semiconductors there has been research from Korea on the uses of graphene as a filtration device for semiconductor wastewater. The oxide-based nanofiltration membranes could remove ammonium from the wastewater created by semiconductor production so it can then be recycled. As a wider application of this Graphene could be used as a filtration device for water or to remove gas from a gas-liquid mixture.
Graphene is also being researched for its uses in the biomedical field, which include being a platform for drug delivery, bone tissue engineering, and ultrasensitive biosensors to detect nucleic acids. Graphene has other sensor-based uses, because the sensors can be made in micrometre-size they could be made to detect events on a molecular level, and could be of use in agriculture and smart farming.
There is a possibility Graphene could be combined with paint to weather-proof or rust-proof vehicles and houses, and to coat sports equipment. It also could have potential within the energy field for extending the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries.
When can we expect change?
Consultation company McKinsey estimated there would be three phases to the implementation of Graphene, none of which have begun just yet. Phase one would be to use Graphene as an ‘enhancer’ of existing technology, and will simply improve other devices by extending the lifespan or improving the conduction. This phase is estimated to last for ten years, after which phase two will begin. In this step graphene will become a replacement for silicon and will be the next step in the improvement of semiconductors and electronics. After 25 years we can expect the next step in graphene applications, things we can only dream of now.
In the meantime, people will still be using silicon-based semiconductors for quite a while. If you’re on the lookout for chips, or any other day-to-day or obsolete electronic components, contact Cyclops today at email@example.com, or use the rapid enquiry form on our website.
23 February 2022
The global electronic component shortage – what happened?
Arguably the biggest ongoing crisis in the tech industry is the global semiconductor shortage. You can’t go far online without seeing news about it, and many people have seen it firsthand when trying to buy a brand-new car, or a recently released games console.
When did it start?
The obvious factor contributing to the shortage is COVID-19. The virus infected millions and sent the world into lockdown, which then led to the housebound masses logging in and going online.
At the start of lockdown in March 2020, 60% of 18-24-year-olds were increasing their use of home delivery instead of leaving the house. Amazon’s revenue also rose at a quicker pace than in previous years, with the company making $88.91 billion in Q2 2022.
Alongside the increase in online shopping came an increase in other digital activities like PC and console gaming. In the last quarter of 2020 desktop, notebook and workstation sales rose to a record 90.3 million units. Tech company Sony saw 25% of its revenue come from game and network services, and around 18% from electronics products and solutions.
In another case of bad timing, both Microsoft and Sony were about to release their next generation of game consoles, and Nintendo Switch sales were booming. All of this meant demand for components was skyrocketing.
This then led to delays in car manufacturing. Why? Because all the available chips were being bought up by computer and electronics manufacturers, so there were none left for the automotive industry. A car part may need between 500 and 1,500 chips, and are used for many parts including the dashboard display and to control the airbag.
There were other elements that contributed to the shortage before this: The US and China had been imposing increasingly high tariffs on each other for the past two years, and natural disasters and fires took out several factories in Japan, Taiwan and China.
When will it end?
The comeback from the semiconductor shortage will not be quick. Some factories that were shut down by natural disasters are still repairing the damage and trying to reopen production. But as the demand is staying high, there will need to be new facilities created to cater for the increase in demand.
The time, expertise and money needed to start a new factory will be too much for smaller firms to manage, so then the hole in the market needs to be filled by larger corporations like Intel and Samsung. Both companies currently have plans to open new fabs in America, but it will be a while before they can start production.
Intel’s ambitious plan to construct the one of the largest chip factories ever in Ohio would alleviate demand, but is not due to start production until 2025. Similarly, Samsung’s Texas fab will not be operational until 2024.
Despite smaller factories opening, the substantial backlog will not be solved by these alone. There will need to be a combination of an increase in production, time efficiency and, with the pandemic in mind, automation to decrease person-to-person contact. There will also need to be a stock of chips manufactured to avoid shortages in future.
The speed at which technology is currently being developed also puts manufacturers in a tight spot. Not only are more electronic devices being produced all the time, but the technology of the components within them is also advancing quickly.
While it is difficult to forecast entirely, experts say the shortage could last a few more years. Hopefully with the opening of the larger plants estimated for approximately the same time, the chip shortage might be mitigated by 2025.
We can help
The market is currently just as competitive in the case of other electronic components, but Cyclops can help. With our extensive stock of day-to-day and obsolete components we can supply you when others cannot.
For all your component needs, contact Cyclops Electronics today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or submit a rapid enquiry through our website.
10 February 2022
Latest electronic component factory openings
We’ve all heard about the shortages in standard components like semiconductors and chips. Cars, phones and computers, items we use every day, are no longer being produced at the speedy rate we’ve come to expect. The cause of this shortage is, in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To combat this shortage many electronic component manufacturers have announced the opening or development of new factories. This is especially noticeable in Europe and America, where production has often been outsourced to Asia in the past.
So who are the latest companies expanding operations, and how much are they spending? Check out our quick run-down of factories and when they should open:
Location: Ohio, USA
Completion date: 2025
Cost: $20 billion (£14.7 billion)
The latest, and possibly greatest, announcement on our list comes from Intel. The corporation revealed in January that they would be committing to building two chip manufacturing plants in New Albany, Ohio. The move is said to be due to supply chain issues with Intel’s manufacturers in Asia, and should boost the American industry with the creation of at least 3,000 jobs. Construction should begin this year.
Company: Samsung Electronics
Location: Texas, USA
Completion date: 2024
Cost: $17billion (£12.5billion)
The household name announced late last year that they would begin work on a new semiconductor-manufacturing plant in Taylor, Texas. The Korean company stated the project was Samsung’s largest single investment in America, and is due to be operational by the middle of 2024.
Location: Villach, Austria
Completion date: 2021
Cost: €1.6 billion (£1.3 billion)
After being in construction since 2018, Infineon’s Austrian plant became operational in September last year. The chip factory for power electronics, also called energy-saving chips, on 300-millimeter tin wafers began shipping three months ahead of schedule in 2021, and its main customer base will be in the automotive industry.
Location: Gdańsk, Poland
Completion date: 2022
Cost: $200 million (£148 million)
The Swedish battery manufacturer is expanding its operations with a new factory in Poland. While initial operations are supposed to begin this year producing 5 GWh of batteries, it hopes to further develop to produce 12 GWh in future. Northvolt has also just begun operations at its new battery factory in Skellefteå in Sweden.
Location: Hà Tĩnh, Vietnam
Completion date: 2022
Cost: $174 million (£128 million)
The Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer is due to start production at its new factory later this year, where it will produce lithium batteries for its electric cars and buses. The factory will be designed to produce 10,000 battery packs per year initially, but in a second phase the manufacturer said it will upgrade to 1 million battery packs annually. VinFast, a member of Vingroup, is also planning on expanding operations to America and Germany.
Company: EMD Electronics
Location: Arizona, USA
Product: Gas and chemical delivery systems
Completion date: 2022
Cost: $28 million (£20.7 million)
The member of the multinational Merck Group is expanding operations with the construction of a new factory in Phoenix, Arizona, to manufacture equipment for its Delivery Systems & Services business. The factory is due to be operational by the end of the year, and will produce GASGUARD and CHEMGUARD systems for the company.
A bright future
These electronic component factory openings signal a great increase in business, and will aide in the easing of the component crisis. But it will take a while for these fabs to be operational.
Can’t wait? Cyclops is there for all your electronic component needs. We have 30 years of expertise, and can help you where other suppliers cannot. Whether it’s day-to-day or obsolete electronic components, contact us today at email@example.com, or use the rapid enquiry form on our website.
26 January 2022
Electronic component market to see continued growth by 2027
The electronic component market is set to see continued growth over the next five years, with projections estimating greater demand than ever.
Several forecasts have converged with the same conclusion; demand for components is set to rocket as the world adopts more advanced technologies.
This article will explore the latest research papers and market analysis from reputable sources. We will also explore why the demand for electronic components is set to soar and the supply chain's challenges.
Global components market
The market analysis covered by Market Watch predicts that the global electronic components market will reach USD 600.31 billion by 2027, from USD 400.51 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 4.7% from 2021.
Active components market
Another market report, this time looking at active electronic components, predicts the active electronic components market will reach USD 519 billion by 2027 (£380bn pounds, converted 12/01/22), a CAGR of 4.82% from 2021.
Passive and interconnecting components market
According to 360 Research Reports, the passive and interconnecting electronic components market is projected to reach USD 35.89 billion in 2027, up from USD 28.79 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 3.2% from 2021.
Semiconductor wafer market
According to Research and Markets, the global semiconductor wafer market is predicted to reach USD 22.03 billion by 2027, rising at a market growth of 4.6% CAGR during the forecast period starting from 2021.
Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) market
Market Reports World predicts the global DRAM market will see extreme growth, growing at a CAGR of 9.86% between 2021 and 2027. The market was valued at USD 636.53 million in 2021 and will grow to nearly USD 700 million by 2027.
Why is component demand set to increase so much?
The world is undergoing an extreme technological transformation that began with the first computers. Today, electronics are everywhere, and they are becoming ever more intricate and complex, requiring more and more components.
Several technologies are converging, including semi-autonomous and electric vehicles, automation and robotics, 5G and internet upgrades, consumer electronics, and smart home appliances like EV chargers and hubs.
This is a global transformation, from your house to the edge of the earth. Electronic components are seeing unprecedented demand because smarter, more capable devices are required to power the future.
What challenges does the supply chain face?
The two biggest challenges are shortages and obsolescence.
Shortages are already impacting supply chains, with shortages of semiconductors, memory, actives, passives, and interconnecting components. We are a global electronic component distributor specialising in hard to find and obsolete electronic components. Email your enquiries to us today at Sales@cyclops-electroncis.com. Our specialised team is here to help.
As demand increases, supply will struggle to keep up. It will be the job of electronic components suppliers like Cyclops and electronic component manufacturers to keep supply chains moving while demanding increases.
Obsolescence refers to electronic components becoming obsolete. While some electronic components have lifespans of decades, others are replaced within a few years, which puts pressure on the supply chain from top to bottom.
In any case, the future is exciting, and the electronic components market will tick along as it always does. We'll be here to keep oiling the machine
22 December 2021
What is causing the surge in semiconductor and passive components?
As the world becomes smarter and more connected, the components used in electronic circuits are seeing a surge in demand.
Semiconductors and passive components (resistors, capacitors, inductors, transforms) are seeing a surge in demand as chip-heavy vehicles, consumer electronics and smart, Internet of Things devices are produced in larger quantities.
This demand is creating a shortage of semiconductors, integrated circuits and passive components. The situation today is that the factories that make certain components can’t make enough of them. This squeezes supply chains and ramps up the price, creating a high level of inflation passed down the supply chain.
The surge in semiconductor and passive component demand has reached an inflexion point. Demand has outstripped supply for many components, leading to car manufacturing lines shutting down and companies delaying product launches.
Tailwinds fuelling demand
- Smart vehicles
- Consumer electronics
- Military technology
- Internet of Things
- Data centres
- Artificial intelligence and robotics
At no other point in history has there been so many exciting technologies developing at the same time. However, while exciting, these technologies are putting strain on the electronic components supply chain.
Passive components include resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transforms in various specifications. There are thousands of makes and unit models. They are essential to making electronic circuits. Without passives, there are no circuits!
Cars, electronics, satellites, 5G, data centres, Internet of Things, displays, and everything else powered by electricity, depends on passives. As devices get smarter, more components are needed, creating a cycle that will only go up.
Certain diodes, transistors and resistors are in shorter supply than in 2020. This is partly because of the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted manufacturing lines. Still, many manufacturers also shifted manufacturing investment to active components with a higher margin, creating a supply imbalance.
Even without these significant bottlenecks, the supply of passive components is downward while demand goes up. For example, a typical smartphone requires over 1,000 capacitors and cars require around 22,000 MLCCs alone. We’re talking billions of passive components in just two sectors.
Semiconductors (chips, in this case, not the materials) are integrated circuits produced on a piece of silicon. On the chip, transistors act as electrical switches that can turn a current on or off. So, semiconductors and passives are linked.
Chips are effectively the brains of every computing device. Demand for chips is increasing as circuits become more complex. While chips are getting smaller, manufacturing output is only slowly increasing, creating a supply shortage.
The semiconductor shortage was years in the making, but things came to a head when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
At the start of the pandemic, vehicles sales dived. In response, manufacturers cancelled orders for semiconductors and other parts. Meanwhile, electronics sales exploded, filling the semiconductor order book left by the automotive sector. When vehicle manufacturing ramped up again, there weren’t enough chips to go around.
Manufacturing limitations are confounding the problem. It takes 3-4 years to open a semiconductor foundry or fabless plant, but investment in new plants in 2018 and 2019 was low. So, new plants are few and far between.
Enter Electronic Component part number below.