Subdisciplines

Circuits

Circuits are the basic building blocks of all electrical and electronicsystems. These systems generate, store, and transmit information, processdata, perform computations, make measurements, and transfer energy bymeans of electrical signals. A state-of-the-art microprocessor, at theheart of any modern computer, is essentially one large circuit containingseveral million transistors, housed in a small package. On the otherend of the scale, the entire electric power distribution network ofthe U.S. is one huge circuit spanning distances of thousands of miles.

Circuits are usually classified as digital or analog. A digital circuit isa circuit in which the signals are quantized into discrete levels, typically two.For example, in positive binary logic circuits a high voltage (above a given threshold)represents a "one," and a low voltage (below a given threshold)represents a "zero."With such circuits, binary arithmetic can be performed, and various other signalprocessing functions can be accomplished. An analog circuit is a circuit in whichthe voltages and currents are not categorized into quantized levels. In many casesboth digital and analog circuits are used in the design of an electrical or electronicsystem.

Modern circuits are integrated, in the sense that hundreds of thousands, oreven millions, of transistors are fabricated and interconnected on a single pieceof silicon, called a chip. Advances in integrated circuit technology over thepast few years have led to the development of powerful hand-held computers, electronicwatches, sophisticated electronic cameras and games, desk-top computers, supercomputers,sophisticated medical instrumentation, and powerful guidance and communicationsystems, among other hi-tech systems. In spite of all this progress, we will continueto see integrated circuit technology make rapid and significant advances in theareas of instrumentation, communication, computation, and control.

In order to learn about integrated circuits, one has to study fabricationprocesses, circuit theory, circuit design, and system design, all in an integratedfashion.

For additional aid and advice, contact any faculty member of the Circuitsarea: Milton Feng, Elyse Rosenbaum, and Naresh Shanbhag.

Courses in the Circuits area cover topics on the theory and fabrication ofintegrated circuit devices, the design of digital and analog integrated circuits,and very large scale integrated (VLSI) system design with computer aids. The followingsuggested electives explain these topics and provide an integrated and broad knowledgeof the concepts necessary to carry out integrated circuit design.

Suggested ECE Electives

ECE 482 - Digital IC Design (requires ECE290 and ECE 342). Design and analysis ofVLSI circuits such as logic, memories, high-speed I/O and interconnects; low-powerdesign. Offered every fall; mainly seniors.

ECE 483 - Analog IC Design (requires ECE342). Basic linear analog integrated circuit design techniques using bipolar,JFET and MOS technologies and applications. A/D and D/A converters. Offered everyspring; mainly seniors.

ECE 444 - IC Device Theory & Fabrication(requires ECE 340). Laboratory and lecture courseon the physical theory, design, and fabrication of devices suitable for integratedcircuitry. Offered every semester; lab; juniors and seniors.

ECE 425/CS 435 - Introduction to the VLSISystem Design (requires ECE 385 & ECE411 or CS 232). Design and layout of VLSI circuits using MOS technology. Offeredevery semester; includes hands-on design using computer-aided design tools; mainlyseniors.

Other ECE Electives to Consider

ECE 361 Digital Communications
ECE 391 Computer Systems Engineering
ECE 310 Digital Signal Processing
ECE 411 Computer Organization and Design
ECE 412 Microcomputer Laboratory
ECE 428 Distributed Systems
ECE 438 Communication Networks
ECE 447 Active Microwave Circuit Design
ECE 448 Artificial Intelligence
ECE 453 Radio Communication Circuits
ECE 459 Communications I
ECE/CS 462 / Math 491 Logic Design
ECE 464 Power Electronics
ECE 486 Control Systems
ECE 490 Introduction to Optimization

Suggested Non-ECE Technical Electives

Math 415 Linear Algebra
Math 446 Applied Complex Variables
Stat 425 Applied Regression and Design
CS 225 Data Structures & Software Principles
CS 257 Numerical Methods

Core Faculty in this area