Integrated Circuit (IC)
The Integrated Circuit (IC) is the same stuff that made the capacitors, resistors, and transistors possible. The difference is the parts are laid out to perform a specific function, without all the packaging of the individual parts. The whole range of parts is then placed in one package. Today, the insulation between the parts is literally only a few atoms thick!
A single IC can contain millions of transistors, capacitors, diodes and resistors. This is called Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit (VLSIC).
Due to so much being packed in such a small area, very small amounts of power are used to keep heat to a minimum, and to prevent insulators within the IC from being overrun. Today it is not uncommon to see voltage requirements of less than 2 volts for an IC. A CPU is a good example of a VLSIC. In May 2001 a research firm managed to successfully create an insulation layer that is one atom thick. This is the ultimate goal following the current design approach. A new method is being researched to keep advances continuing.
At this point, you have seen how electricity works, and, the common components in use to make electricity do something useful for us. Now it is time to apply some logic so the computer can do some 'thinking'. How a computer thinks is the next topic.
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