The development of semiconductor technology has had a profound impact on daily life by facilitating unprecedented progress in all areas of electronic engineering and telecommunications. Since the first transistors were made in the late 1940s, the number and variety of semiconductor devices have increased rapidly with the application of advanced technology and new materials. The devices now available range from the humble silicon rectifier diode used in power supplies to specialised GaAsFETs (gallium arsenide field effect transistors) used for low- noise microwave amplification. Digital ULSIICs (ultra-large-scale integrated circuits), involving the fabrication of millions of tiny transistors on a single chip of silicon, are used for the low-power microprocessor and memory functions which have made powerful personal computers a reality.
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