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VLSI / Microelectronics / IC Design
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This thread is for those students who are looking forward to apply for master degree in VLSI or microelectronics or IC Design, but are not aware about its sub-divisions and what it is all about. If you are applying to VLSI because a lot of your friends have said that it is a good field to apply to from the perspective of future/ job/ money or any other reason, you should first understand the subject before applying. That's what this thread will cover. But this thread is not about which university to select for VLSI, or which professor to email for prof-letting. Please do not ask those doubts here. You can create a separate thread for those issues. This thread will only describe about VLSI and is classifications to students can make an informed decision for their field of interest.

VLSI is a very broad field that includes basic subjects like Circuit analysis, Math, Physics, Chemistry and Material Science. So it is important to select a particular sub-specialization in VLSI according to your interest. Basically VLSI deals with the integrated circuits, that we use in our PC, mobiles, etc, and it also includes areas that we do not think may fall in this category like photonics, nanoelectronics, sensors, fluidics, display etc. So when you are applying to a particular VLSI program in any university, do take a look at the coursework and what all they will be covering.

To start with the basic classification, VLSI is divided into 2 parts:
1. Circuits
2. Devices


All the other categories are sub categories of these two. In this thread I will not focus on how the first category "Circuits" is sub divided, as that has already been very well covered in an another thread by macsdev . If you are interested in learning about that particular fields "Circuits" (it includes, Analog, Digital, Mixed-Signal, RF IC Design and System on Chip) you can refer to this thread. Although if you have any particular question about circuits, I have some friends I can ask to help/assist.

Coming to the second category "Devices", it is a very generalized name. You can find courses on this specialization with names like Solid State Physics, Microelectronics (MicroE may sometimes also refer to circuits; take care), Nanoelectronics, Green Electronics, Microfabrication Engg etc. If you are interested in learning about Nanoelectronics, you can read this thread by The Black Swan : Nanoelectronics But the content of the courses will be more or less same/related. Devices part of VLSI deals with he study of a single transistor/MOSFET/FinFET and its fabrication technology. Now although the industry is largely based on Silicon to fabricate devices (about 99%), but there will be a lot of courses that will cover other materials as well like III-V Group Materials, Organic and Inorganic semiconductors. The study of the devices will not only be restricted to MOSFET, but also include power transistors, lasers, MEMS, molecular electronic devices etc. I have given this basic details to give you an idea about the spread of Devices specialization.

Devices specialization will cover how a MOSFET works, which includes semiconductor physics, the device physics, device engineering, materials properties and some basic circuit knowledge. This specialization will also cover the industrial fabrication process of MOSFETS and other devices. Since device fabrication technology has gained very high complexity over past 50 years, there might be courses just on fabrication engg as well. A lot of undergraduate courses in India have this subject called "Devices and Circuits" in II or III year, so this can be though of as an extension of that subject but only the semiconductor part. During any course related to devices you will also study material science, solid state physics, optics and quantum physics. So in general if you have an interest and aptitude for basic sciences/physics, this is a good specialization in VLSI you can choose.

Now Devices, is sub-categorized in following areas:

1. Device Physics/Modelling: In this specialization you will study about how these devices work and the physics behind it. Based on that knowledge, you will learn TCAD software, and will design new device models to facilitate fabrication and optimization of those devices later. This field although interesting but is comparatively less in demand because of lesser job opportunities.

2. Quality, Reliability and Yield Analysis: This sub domain is high in demand as this field will include yield improvement studies for semiconductor industries, which can help companies save millions of dollars. But this field will include more of mathematics and statistics as compared to physics and device technology.

3. Device Fabrication/Processing: This area includes study of processes like photolithography, etching, chemical vapor deposition etc. You will study these processes and will then get job opportunities typically as process engineer or equipment engineer and will have to take care about the that particular process which you are assigned to.

4. Nanoelectronics and Advance MOSFET: This area in devices is mainly R&D oriented and will allow you to study future devices wit new materials, architectures and techniques. Devices like molecular transistors and single electron transistors will be included in this. If you are interested in PhD after completing your master degree, then this subject will be important for you.

5. MEMS: This stands for Micro-Electo-Mechanical Systems: It includes devices like sensors and actuators that will basically convert mechanical energy to electric signals or vice-versa. It is an important field and has nice scope in the future.

There are some other subdivisions as well like photonics, display technology and Solar cells (materials) which I will not discuss here as they are comparatively less in VLSI circle than in physics or material science circles. If you are interested in learning about these, you can PM me, I'll try to help or link someone who can.

If you are interested in knowing the universities about these specializations you can Edugoogle it out in the past threads. If you are interested in reading more on these subjects, I can refer you to some very basic books that will cover this brilliantly as whole:

Solid State Electronic Devices (6th Edition) by Ben Streetman, Sanjay Banerjee
Physics of Semiconductor Devices : S.M. Sze
Neamen's Semiconductor Physics and Devices


Some interesting coursework is also available online. You can find very focused courses on nanoHUB and on NPTEL courses.

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(This post was last modified: 02-20-2015 11:12 AM by fall13vox.)
02-08-2015 02:54 PM
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RE: VLSI / Microelectronics / IC Design
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(02-08-2015 02:54 PM)fall13vox Wrote:  This thread is for those students who are looking forward to apply for master degree in VLSI or microelectronics or IC Design, but are not aware about its sub-divisions and what it is all about. If you are applying to VLSI because a lot of your friends have said that it is a good field to apply to from the perspective of future/ job/ money or any other reason, you should first understand the subject before applying. That's what this thread will cover. But this thread is not about which university to select for VLSI, or which professor to email for prof-letting. Please do not ask those doubts here. You can create a separate thread for those issues. This thread will only describe about VLSI and is classifications to students can make an informed decision for their field of interest.

VLSI is a very broad field that includes basic subjects like Circuit analysis, Math, Physics, Chemistry and Material Science. So it is important to select a particular sub-specialization in VLSI according to your interest. Basically VLSI deals with the integrated circuits, that we use in our PC, mobiles, etc, and it also includes areas that we do not thing may fall in this category like photonics, nanoelectronics, sensors, fluidics, display etc. So when you are applying to a particular VLSI program in any university, do take a look at the coursework and what all they will be covering.

To start with the basic classification, VLSI is divided into 2 parts:
1. Circuits
2. Devices


All the other categories are sub categories of these two. In this thread I will not focus on how the first category "Circuits" is sub divided, as that has already been very well covered in an another thread by @[macsdev] . If you are interested in learning about that particular fields "Circuits" (it includes, Analog, Digital, Mixed-Signal, RF IC Design and System on Chip) you can refer to this thread. Although if you have any particular question about circuits, I have some friends I can ask to help/assist.

Coming to the second category "Devices", it is a very generalized name. You can find courses on this specialization with names like Solid State Physics, Microelectronics (MicroE may sometimes also refer to circuits; take care), Nanoelectronics, Green Electronics, Microfabrication Engg etc. But the content of the courses will be more or less same/related. Devices part of VLSI deals with he study of a single transistor/MOSFET/FinFET and its fabrication technology. Now although the industry is largely based on Silicon to fabricate devices (about 99%), but there will be a lot of courses that will cover other materials as well like III-V Group Materials, Organic and Inorganic semiconductors. The study of the devices will not only be restricted to MOSFET, but also include power transistors, lasers, MEMS, molecular electronic devices etc. I have given this basic details to give you an idea about the spread of Devices specialization.

Devices specialization will cover how a MOSFET works, which includes semiconductor physics, the device physics, device engineering, materials properties and some basic circuit knowledge. This specialization will also cover the industrial fabrication process of MOSFETS and other devices. Since device fabrication technology has gained very high complexity over past 50 years, there might be courses just on fabrication engg as well. A lot of undergraduate courses in India have this subject called "Devices and Circuits" in II or III year, so this can be though of as an extension of that subject but only the semiconductor part. During any course related to devices you will also study material science, solid state physics, optics and quantum physics. So in general if you have an interest and aptitude for basic sciences/physics, this is a good specialization in VLSI you can choose.

Now Devices, is sub-categorized in following areas:
1. Device Physics/Modelling: In this specialization you will study about how these devices work and the physics behind it. Based on that knowledge, you will learn TCAD software, and will design new device models to facilitate fabrication and optimization of those devices later. This field although interesting but is comparatively less in demand because of lesser job opportunities.
2. Quality, Reliability and Yield Analysis: This sub domain is high in demand as this field will include yield improvement studies for semiconductor industries, which can help companies save millions of dollars. But this field will include more of mathematics and statistics as compared to physics and device technology.
3. Device Fabrication/Processing: This area includes study of processes like photolithography, etching, chemical vapor deposition etc. You will study these processes and will then get job opportunities typically as process engineer or equipment engineer and will have to take care about the that particular process which you are assigned to.
4. Nanoelectronics and Advance MOSFET: This area in devices is mainly R&D oriented and will allow you to study future devices wit new materials, architectures and techniques. Devices like molecular transistors and single electron transistors will be included in this. If you are interested in PhD after completing your master degree, then this subject will be important for you.
5. MEMS: This stands for Micro-Electo-Mechanical Systems. It includes devices like sensors and actuators that will basically convert mechanical energy to electric signals or vice-versa. It is an important field and has nice scope in the future.

There are some other subdivisions as well like photonics, display technology and Solar cells (materials) which I will not discuss here as they are comparatively less in VLSI circle than in physics or material science circles. If you are interested in learning about these, you can PM me, I'll try to help or link someone who can.

If you are interested in knowing the universities about these specializations you can Edugoogle it out in the past threads. If you are interested in reading more on these subjects, I can refer you to some very basic books that will cover this brilliantly as whole:
Solid State Electronic Devices (6th Edition) by Ben Streetman, Sanjay Banerjee
Physics of Semiconductor Devices : S.M. Sze
Neamen's Semiconductor Physics and Devices

Thank you so much.It did help me have an overall idea about VLSI. Is learning c++ or c language necessary for solid state physics??? How about image processing???

02-08-2015 06:49 PM
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RE: VLSI / Microelectronics / IC Design
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C++ or any other programming language will be particularly helpful when you want to go to TCAD/device modelling or if you are interested in Digital IC Design. Other than that, programming skill is not of much use.

Image processing is a very different area and will include Signal Processing and other such subjects. This may be somewhat related to IC Design/ckts field.

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02-09-2015 07:07 AM
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RE: VLSI / Microelectronics / IC Design
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Thanks you so much fall13vox for the detail knowledge and insight in VLSI domain, i am sure this article of yours would have been a great help help to many students applying for Masters in VLSI field.

It would be great if you can tell the colleges which has good VLSI courses other then US(there is a bulk of data available for US college, but hardly few for non-US college, and specially for NON-CS courses)

I am specifically interested in Germany and Singapore college.

Thanks.

US or Europe..!!


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(This post was last modified: 05-17-2015 12:52 AM by rons05.somani.)
05-17-2015 12:51 AM
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rons05.somani
Thanks
For VLSI in Singapore, there are loads of companies for jobs and internship, like Intel, AMD, Mediatek, NXP, Infineon, Micron, Global Foundries, STMicroelectronics, REC Solar, United Microelectronics Corporation, Huawei etc etc.
Coursed are offered by NTU, NTU-TUM and NUS for MS/MSc and PhD. You need to check with each university what modules they cover in the coursework or in research based master degree to find your interest. Each All the univs/progs offer different combination and specializations in VLSI.
Job scene in Singapore is highly variable, some times everyone gets a job/intern, and a lot of times even toppers don't get jobs. That as been happening for a long time how, partly because of the govt policies and partly because of semicon market.

In Europe, there a loads of universities that offer good courses in VLSI/IC Design/Micro/Nano. The most famous one is Erasmus Mundus Nano course. Do check that http://www.emm-nano.org
I am not much aware about European univs as of now in VLSI, I just have a superficial idea. You can PM Oliver Gomes, The Black Swan or das_german for more details on this. They can explain better about EU scene.
In the above post I have linked to a few other threads that have university lists for US and EU too. Check those links.

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05-17-2015 03:59 PM
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RE: VLSI / Microelectronics / IC Design
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(05-17-2015 03:59 PM)fall13vox Wrote:  @[rons05.somani]
Thanks
For VLSI in Singapore, there are loads of companies for jobs and internship, like Intel, AMD, Mediatek, NXP, Infineon, Micron, Global Foundries, STMicroelectronics, REC Solar, United Microelectronics Corporation, Huawei etc etc.
Coursed are offered by NTU, NTU-TUM and NUS for MS/MSc and PhD. You need to check with each university what modules they cover in the coursework or in research based master degree to find your interest. Each All the univs/progs offer different combination and specializations in VLSI.
Job scene in Singapore is highly variable, some times everyone gets a job/intern, and a lot of times even toppers don't get jobs. That as been happening for a long time how, partly because of the govt policies and partly because of semicon market.

In Europe, there a loads of universities that offer good courses in VLSI/IC Design/Micro/Nano. The most famous one is Erasmus Mundus Nano course. Do check that http://www.emm-nano.org
I am not much aware about European univs as of now in VLSI, I just have a superficial idea. You can PM Oliver Gomes, The Black Swan or das_german for more details on this. They can explain better about EU scene.
In the above post I have linked to a few other threads that have university lists for US and EU too. Check those links.
I am interested in the layout design part of VLSI. Which one should i consider now? Devices or circuits. What is with this analog and digital VLSI? EDA?
Confused about which one to select. My interest lies in the layout part.

11-28-2015 03:18 AM
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