Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
ZIF is an acronym for "Zero Insertion Force". A normal integrated circuit(IC) socket requires the IC to be pushed into sprung contacts which then grip by friction. For an IC with hundreds of pins, the total insertion force can be very large (tens of newtons), leading to a danger of damage to the device. This was the problem caused by low insertion force (LIF) sockets. To avoid this problem, the ZIF socket was invented. Before the IC is inserted, a lever or slider on the side of the socket is moved, pushing all the sprung contacts apart so that the IC can be inserted with very little force. The lever is then moved back, allowing the contacts to close and grip the pins of the IC. One alternative to ZIF sockets are slots in which the contacts are in a line.
ZIF sockets are used for expensive ICs such as microprocessors, which are likely to be upgraded or replaced several times during the lifetime of the socket. They are also used in chip-testing and programming equipment, when the same socket will be used to test or program hundreds of chips.
ZIF sockets are much more expensive than standard IC sockets, so they are only used where the latter are unsuitable.
ZIF wire-to-board connectors
ZIF wire-to-board connectors are used for attaching wires to printed circuit boards inside electronic equipment. The wires, often formed into a ribbon cable, are pre-stripped and the bare ends placed inside the connector. The two sliding parts of the connector are then pushed together, causing it to grip the wires. The most important advantage of this system is that it does not require a mating half to be fitted to the wire ends, therefore saving space and cost inside miniaturised equipment.
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