Whether they realize it or not, everyone has seen the work of a semiconductor in their lives. If you’re reading this article, you see it every day, in fact! These useful devices, also known as integrated circuits, ICs, or microchips, are used to control current and direct electric signals in everyday devices. Diodes and transistors are also made from semiconductors. It is said that, as of today, there are over one billion semiconductor circuits in use around the world.
With that out of the way, here are five smart ways that semiconductors have positively impacted the technology industry and changed it for the better. Society is a better place due to how semiconductors have led to new and innovative advancements.
1. Process Control
Also known as rectification, this process uses a semiconductor to change control changes in electricity. An interesting example of this technology is circadian LED lights, which automatically adjust the strength of the light they output throughout the day to mimic the patterns of the sun.
In manufacturing and automation, more common types of semiconductors include modulating valves and variable frequency drives. These tiny adjustments to valves or motors, for example, when used in combination with a small processor.
2. Self-Driving Robots
These cool robots are usually programmed for palletizing operations or material handling. Depending on the complexity of the robot, it may function similarly to a self-driving car. They’re programmed to navigate their environment and complete their tasks through the use of sensors and machine visioning systems. Some models are even capable of online communications, and utilizing adaptive learning technology to make real-time adjustments based on their current environment.
3. Increased Security
Remember the circadian LED example from before? Well, a similar technology can also be found in some models of security cameras. Reduce the odds of grainy, low-quality images with a camera that adjusts its resolution and image quality based on its current surroundings.
4. Solar Power
Solar panels are becoming an increasingly cost-efficient way to power buildings. Solar panels can provide energy to both single-phase and three-phase power systems, and use semiconductors called photovoltaic cells, or PV cells, as a means to do so. When light comes into contact with the semiconductor, it’s absorbed into the cell. The sun’s energy is transferred into the free-flowing electrons in the PV cell. They will remain inside of the PV cells until they’re needed to power houses, machinery, and so forth, at which time extracted through conductive metal contacts.
There are several different types of photovoltaic cells, but they all function on the premise described above.
5. Uninterruptible Power Supplies
As the name suggests, these devices utilize semiconductors to resist disruption during power outages. They consist of a capacitor of some kind and a converter or rectifier, and provide protection from input power interruptions, by supplying the energy stored in batteries, supercapacitors, or flywheels to devices. They are most commonly used to prevent data loss during a power shortage by giving computer-operated systems enough time to safely back up data, enter standby mode, or safely shut down equipment.