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Semiconductors

Definition:
The materials whose electrical conductivity lies in between
that of conductors and insulators are called
semiconductors. (Silicon, Germanium etc.)
Classification:
According to the number of elements this is classified into
two types.
1. Elemental semiconductor
2. Compound semiconductor
According to the purity again there are two main
classification as
1. Intrinsic semiconductor
2. Extrinsic semiconductor

INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC


SEMICONDUCTOR
Intrinsic Semiconductor

An intrinsic semiconductor material is chemically very pure and


possesses poor conductivity. It has equal numbers of negative carriers
(electrons) and positive carriers (holes). A silicon crystal is different
from an insulator because at any temperature above absolute zero
temperature, there is a finite probability that an electron in the lattice
will be knocked loose from its position, leaving behind an electron
deficiency called a "hole".
If a voltage is applied, then both the electron and the hole
can contribute to a small current flow.
The conductivity of a semiconductor can be modeled in
terms of the band theory of solids. The band model of a
semiconductor suggests that at ordinary temperatures there
is a finite possibility that electrons can reach the conduction
band and contribute to electrical conduction.
The term intrinsic here distinguishes between the
properties of pure "intrinsic" silicon and the dramatically
different properties of doped n-type or p-type
semiconductors.

Extrinsic Semiconductor
Where as an extrinsic semiconductor is an improved intrinsic
semiconductor with a small amount of impurities added by a process,
known as doping, which alters the electrical properties of the
semiconductor and improves its conductivity. Introducing impurities
into the semiconductor materials (doping process) can control their

conductivity.
Doping process produces two groups of semiconductors: the negative
charge conductor (n-type) and the positive charge conductor (ptype). Semiconductors are available as either elements or
compounds. Silicon and Germanium are the most common elemental
semiconductors. Compound Semiconductors include InSb, InAs, GaP,
GaSb, GaAs, SiC, GaN. Si and Ge both have a crystalline structure
called the diamond lattice. That is, each atom has its four nearest
neighbors at the corners of a regular tetrahedron with the atom itself
being at the center. In addition to the pure element semiconductors,
many alloys and compounds are semiconductors. The advantage of
compound semiconductor is that they provide the device engineer
with a wide range of energy gaps and mobilities, so that materials are
available with properties that meet specific requirements. Some of
these semiconductors are therefore called wide band gap
semiconductors.

The Doping of Semiconductors


The addition of a small percentage of foreign atoms in the regular crystal
lattice of silicon or germanium produces dramatic changes in their
electrical properties, producing n-type and p-type semiconductors.

Pentavalent impurities

(5
valence
electrons)
produce
n-type
semiconductors by contributing extra electrons.
Trivalent impurities

(3
valence
electrons)
produce
p-type
semiconductors by producing a "hole" or electron
deficiency.

N-Type Semiconductor

The addition of pentavalent impurities


such
as
antimony,
arsenic
or
phosphorous contributes free electrons,
greatly increasing the conductivity of the
intrinsic semiconductor. Phosphorous
may be added by diffusion of phosphine
gas (PH3).

P-Type Semiconductor
The addition of trivalent impurities such as boron,
aluminum or gallium to an intrinsic semiconductor creates
deficiencies of valence electrons,called "holes". It is typical to
use B2H6 diborane gas to diffuse boron into the silicon
material.

Law of Mass Action


For both intrinsic and extrinsic materials, at equilibrium:

n0p0 = ni 2 n0 = ni 2 / p0 , p0 = ni 2 / n0
So for an n-type material with only donor atoms :

n0 = ND , p0 = ni 2 / n0 = ni 2 / ND
And for a p-type material with only acceptor atoms:
p0 = NA , n0 = ni 2 /p0 = ni 2 / NA

Impurity Compensation
Due to fabrication constraints, in many cases there are both donor and
acceptor atoms present in a piece of semiconductor crystal. The eventual
type of material and electron/hole concentrations depend on which type of
dopant atom is more populous. The behavior is detailed:-

The Fermi-Dirac Distribution Function and


Fermi Level
The conduction band in a piece of semiconductor consists of many
available, allowed, empty energy levels. When calculating how many
electrons will fill these levels and thus be counted in n, contributing to
conductivity, we consider two factors:
How many energy levels are there within a given range of energy, in our
case the conduction band, and
How likely is it that each level will be populated by an electron. The
likelihood in the second item is given by a probability function called the

Fermi-Dirac distribution function. f(E) is the probability that a level with


energy E will be filled by an electron, and the expression is:-

where kB is Boltzmanns constant, 8.62105 [eV/K], and T is the


temperature in degrees Kelvin. EF is called the Fermi energy or Fermi level.
It is determined as the energy point where the probability of occupancy by
an electron is exactly 50%, or 0.5:

Compound Semiconductor
Semiconductors made of more than one materials are called
compound semiconductors. Generally the iii-v semiconductors
are unique in dominating higher performance in optoelectronics
and high speed electronics. One of the main reasons behind it is
the polarity trend of these compound ones while going out ward
to the periodic table.
There are two favourable consequences to the polarity trend.
Both stem from the tendency, as bonds become more polar, for
bandgaps to become direct (filled symbols) rather than
indirect (open symbols). In other words, electrons at the
Bottom of the normally-unfilled conduction band have the same
k=0 momentum as electrons at the top of the normally-filled
valence band.
First, valence electrons can absorb photons and become
conduction electrons, and conduction electrons can emit photons
and become valence electrons, both without phonons that

otherwise might be needed to conserve momentum. Moving

outwards from Column IV of the Periodic Table, Ge is indirect,


has a lower radiative recombination coefficient, and is less useful
for optoelectronics. GaAs and ZnSe are direct, have higher
radiative recombination coefficients, and are more useful for
optoelectronics. Hence, todays most efficient and highest-power
commercial semiconductor lasers are based on GaAs.
Second, electron masses in the direct gap k=0 electron states are
usually lower than in the indirect gap k0 electron states. Ge,
which is less ionic, is indirect, and has a higher electron effective
mass less useful for high-speed electronics; while GaAs and ZnSe
are more ionic, are direct, and have lower electron masses more
useful for high-speed electronics. Hence, todays most efficient
and highest-speed commercial semiconductor amplifiers are
based on GaAs.
Doping and Hardness
There are also two unfavourable consequences to the polarity
trend.
First, as bonds become more polar, the greater the energy gained
upon transferring electrons between atoms, the wider the

bandgap. However, the ionization energies of dopants increase


with bandgap, making wider-gap semiconductors much more
difficult to dope (especially with acceptors to make p-type
material) than narrower-gap semiconductors. Hence, Ge and
GaAs, which are less polar, are easy to p-type dope, while ZnSe,
which is more polar, is difficult to ptype dope.
Second, as bonds become more polar, their strengths are
increasingly determined by electrostatic energies, and depend
increasingly less on the angles between bonds. Hence, more-polar
semiconductors are less resistant to bond-angle deformation and
plastic shear. They are softer materials that more easily
incorporate defects such as dislocations. These defects scatter
carriers, inhibit photon emission, and enhance device degradation
Rates. Hence, Ge, which is less polar, has typical substrate
dislocation densities of 100 cm-2, while GaAs and ZnSe, which are
more polar, have typical substrate dislocation densities of 1,000
cm-2 and 10,000 cm-2, respectively.

The expressions for conductivity and


diffusion current are as follows: