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What Is Integrated Circuit Packaging?

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  • Written By: Geisha A. Legazpi
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Integrated circuit packaging, more commonly called packaging, is a method of protecting the Integrated Circuit (IC) from either damage or corrosion by using plastics or ceramics. Plastics or ceramics are favored among all other materials because they can conduct electricity better. The protective materials also support the contact points of the IC so it can be used inside a device. Additionally, integrated circuit packaging is the second to the last stage in the manufacture of semiconductor devices. After the packaging process, the integrated circuit is sent for testing to see if it stands up to industry standards.

With modern packaging, a customized machine is used to mount the die and connect its pads to the pins on the package before sealing it. This typically cuts down costs and production time considerably, resulting in cheaper electronics as compared to when most integrated circuit packaging has to be performed by hand. Integrated circuits are commonly used in a large amount of consumer electronics like digital devices, computers, and cell phones. All integrated circuits have to be packaged then tested so that they can seamlessly work with a myriad of digital devices. Varieties of integrated circuit packaging can be seen in most circuit boards and motherboards as small, eraser-like items, a smattering of metallic silver pins, and minuscule boxes.

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Integrated circuit packaging has a common industry standard, but there are also exceptions to the common packaging method of ceramic or plastic insulation. These rare exceptions are usually used in devices that control light or are used to view a spectrum of light that is not usually seen through normal methods. Instead of putting the raw die on a ceramic or plastic package, the die is directly attached to a final circuit board. The die is bonded to the board and is protected with a cover of an epoxy-based sealant.

A digital device, such as a cell phone or laptop, can easily break if it falls from a certain height or if it gets wet. When this happens, usually the integrated circuits are either physically damaged, disconnected from the circuit board, or corroded by liquids. All integrated circuits are fragile and do not have their own connectors or pins in order to work with a circuit board. Through integrated circuit packaging, a chip carrier will be added to protect the delicate structure of the integrated circuits, plus it has an extra feature of providing pin connectors. With today’s microchip structure, the technology behind integrated circuit packaging has been developed with reliability in mind.

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