Philips' produces greener, lower-cost chips

Philips Semiconductors has developed a new, patented silicon-on insulator process technology that allows high-voltage to be integrated much more easily alongside low-voltage analog and digital circuitry on commercial silicon chips.

The EZ-HV process will make it possible to produce a new generation of intelligent single-chip power control solutions that use the world's valuable energy resources much more efficiently, according to the company.

One of the first applications to benefit from this new process will be fluorescent light bulbs. The process has the potential to replace the existing 3-chip solution in these bulbs with a single chip that will fit inside the base of a normal-sized bulb, cutting the cost of the unit in half.

Similarly, EZ-HV may enable manufacturers to shrink power plugs for equipment, such as mobile phones, to the size of a normal AC line plug.

The patented process achieves its unique combination of high-voltage capability and high integration density by adopting a radically different approach to silicon-on-insulator IC construction. Conventional silicon-on-insulator ICs with high-voltage transistors require the use of a relatively thick layer of silicon, making production expensive and precluding high integration densities because the transistors must be spaced widely apart to ensure adequate isolation between them. The EZ-HV process allows fabrication of high-voltage transistors in an extremely thin layer of silicon and surrounding each one with silicon dioxide - a perfect insulator. The thin silicon layer is less expensive to produce, while the silicon dioxide isolation means that high and low voltage components can be placed much closer together on the chip.

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