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Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

CHAPTER

27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

1* In the classical model of conduction, the electron loses energy on average in a collision because it loses the
drift velocity it had picked up since the last collision. Where does this energy appear?
The energy lost by the electrons in collision with the ions of the crystal lattice appears as Joule heat (I2R).
2 A measure of the density of the free-electron gas in a metal is the distance rs, which is defined as the radius of
the sphere whose volume equals the volume per conduction electron. (a) Show that rs = (3/4n)1/3, where n is the
free-electron number density. (b) Calculate rs for copper in nanometers.
(a) The volume occupied by one electron is 1/n = (4/3)rs3. Thus, rs = (3/4n)1/3.
(b) n = 8.471028 m3 (See Table 27-1). Evaluate rs
rs = 1.411010 m = 0.141 nm
3

(a) Given a mean free path = 0.4 nm and a mean speed vav = 1.17105 m/s for the current flow in copper at
a temperature of 300 K, calculate the classical value for the resistivity of copper. (b) The classical model
suggests that the mean free path is temperature independent and that vav depends on temperature. From this
model, what would be at 100 K?
9 1031 1.17 105
(a) Use Equ. 27-7
=
.m
8.47 10 28 (1.6 10 19 )2 4 10 10
(b) vav T1/2

= 0.123 .m
100 = (0.123 .m)(100/300)1/2 = 0.071 .m

Calculate the number density of free electrons in (a) Ag ( = 10.5 g/cm3) and (b) Au ( = 19.3 g/cm3),
assuming one free electron per atom, and compare your results with the values listed in Table 27-1.
(a), (b) n = NA/M; = density, M = molar mass
(a) nAg = 5.861022 el./cm3; (b) nAu = 5.901022 el./cm3.
The results agree with Table 27-1

5*

The density of aluminum is 2.7 g/cm3. How many free electrons are present per aluminum atom?

ne = electrons/atom = nM/NA

ne =

18.1 10 22 26.98
= 3.00 electrons/atom
2.7 6.02 10 23

Chapter 27
6

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

The density of tin is 7.3 g/cm3. How many free electrons are present per tin atom?

See Problem 5

ne =

14.8 10 22 118.7
= 4.00 electrons/atom
7.3 6.02 10 23

Calculate the Fermi temperature for (a) Al, (b) K, and (c) Sn.
(a), (b), (c) TF = EF/k; k = 8.625105 eV/K
(a) TF = (11.7 eV)/k = 1.36105 K; (b) TF = 2.45104 K
(c) TF = 1.18105 K

What is the speed of a conduction electron whose energy is equal to the Fermi energy EF for (a) Na, (b) Au,
and (c) Sn?
(a) uF = 1.07106 m/s; (b) uF = 1.39106 m/s;
(a), (b), (c) u F = 2 E F / me ; use Table 27-1 for
(c) uF = 1.89106 m/s
EF

9* Calculate the Fermi energy for (a) Al, (b) K, and (c) Sn using the number densities given in Table 27-1.
(a), (b), (c) Use Equ. 27-15b
(a) EF = 0.365(181)2/3 eV = 11.7 eV;
(b) EF = 2.12 eV; (c) EF = 10.2 eV
10 Find the average energy of the conduction electrons at T = 0 in (a) copper and (b) lithium.
(a) Eav = 0.67.04 eV = 4.22 eV; (b) Eav = 2.85 eV
(a), (b) Eav = 0.6EF
11 Calculate (a) the Fermi temperature and (b) the Fermi energy at T = 0 for iron.
EF = 0.365(170)2/3 eV = 11.2 eV; TF = 1.30105 K
Use Equ. 27-15b for EF and TF = EF/k
12

The pressure of an ideal gas is related to the average energy of the gas particles by PV = 23 N E av , where N is

the number of particles and Eav is the average energy. Use this to calculate the pressure of the Fermi electron gas
in copper in newtons per square meter, and compare your result with atmospheric pressure, which is about 10 5
N/m2. (Note: The units are most easily handled by using the conversion factors 1 N/m2 = 1 J/m3 and 1 eV =
1.61019 J.)
P = 2(N/V)Eav/3 = 2(N/V)EF/5; EF = EF(eV)e
P = 0.4(8.471028)(7.04)(1.61019) N/m2
= 3.821010 N/m2; P = 3.78105 atm
13*

The bulk modulus B of a material can be defined by


P
B= -V
V
PV = 23 N E av
(a) Use the ideal-gas relation
and Equations 27-15 and 27-16 to show that
2N E F
= C V -5 / 3
5V
where C is a constant independent of V. (b) Show that the bulk modulus of the Fermi electron gas is therefore
5
2N E F
B= P=
3
3V
P=

Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

(c) Compute the bulk modulus in newtons per square meter for the Fermi electron gas in copper and compare
your result with the measured value of 140109 N/m2.
(a) From Problem 12, P = (2/3)(N/V)Eav = (2/5)(N/V)EF. But EF is proportional to V2/3 so P = CV5/3, where C is
a constant.
(b) B = (1/V)(dP/dV) = (5/3)CV5/3 = (5/3)P = (2/3)(N/V)EF.
(c) B = 63.6109 N/m2 0.5Bexp
14 Thomas refuses to believe that a potential difference can be created simply by bringing two different metals
into contact with each other. John talks him into making a small wager, and is about to cash in. (a) Which two
metals from Table 27-2 would demonstrate his point most effectively? (b) What is the value of that contact
potential?
(a), (b) The largest contact potential is when potassium and nickel are joined. Then Vcontact = (5.2 2.1) V = 3.1 V.
15 (a) In problem 14, which choices of different metals would make the least impressive demonstration? (b)
What is the value of that contact potential?
(a), (b) Silver joined to gold gives the smallest contact potential. Vcontact = 0.1 V
16 Calculate the contact potential between (a) Ag and Cu, (b) Ag and Ni, and (c) Ca and Cu.
(a), (b), (c) See Table 27-2
(a) Vcontact = 0.6 V; (b) Vcontact = 0.5 V; (c) Vcontact = 0.9 V
17* When the temperature of pure copper is lowered from 300 K to 4 K, its resistivity drops by a much greater
factor than that of brass when it is cooled in the same way. Why?
The resistivity of brass at 4 K is almost entirely due to the residual resistance, the resistance due to impurities
and other imperfections of the crystal lattice. In brass, the zinc ions act as impurities in copper. In pure copper,
the resistivity at 4 K is due to its residual resistance, which is very low if the copper is very pure.
18 The resistivities of Na, Au, and Sn at T = 273 K are 4.2 cm, 2.04 cm, and 10.6 cm, respectively.
Use these values and the Fermi speeds calculated in Problem 8 to find the mean free paths for the conduction
electrons in these elements.
9.11 10 31 1.07 106
= meuF/nee2; = mevF/nee2; evaluate for Na,
Na: =
m = 34.2 nm;
2.65 10 28 (1.6 10 19 )2 4.2 10 8
Au, and Sn. See Problem 8 for uF.
Note: 1 .cm = 108 .m
Au: = 41.1 nm; Sn: = 4.29 nm
19 The resistivity of pure copper is increased by about 110-8 m by the addition of 1% (by number of atoms)
of an impurity throughout the metal. The mean free path depends on both the impurity and the oscillations of the
lattice ions according to the equation
1 1 1
= +
t i
(a) Estimate i from data given in Table 27-1. (b) If r is the effective radius of an impurity lattice ion seen by an
electron, the scattering cross section is r2. Estimate this area using the fact that r is related to i by Equation
27-9.
2 E F me
2 7.04 1.6 10 19 9.11 10 31
(a) i = meuF/nee2i; i = meuF/nee2i =
i =
m = 66.1 nm
2
ne e i
8.47 10 28 (1.6 10 19 )2 10 8
(b) i = 1/nir2; r2 = 1/nii

ni = 8.471026 m3; r2 = 1.81020 m2 = 0.018 nm2

Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

20 A metal is a good conductor because the valence energy band for electrons is (a) completely full. (b) full, but
there is only a small gap to a higher empty band. (c) partly full. (d) empty. (e) None of these is correct.
(c)
21* Insulators are poor conductors of electricity because
(a) there is a small energy gap between the valence band and the next higher band where electrons can exist.
(b) there is a large energy gap between the full valence band and the next higher band where electrons can exist.
(c) the valence band has a few vacancies for electrons.
(d) the valence band is only partly full.
(e) None of these is correct.
(b)
22 You are an electron sitting at the top of the valence band in a silicon atom, longing to jump across the 1.14eV energy gap that separates you from the bottom of the conduction band and all of the adventures that it may
contain. What you need, of course, is a photon. What is the maximum photon wavelength that will get you across
the gap?
E = hc/; = hc/E
= 1240/1.14 nm = 1088 nm
23 Work Problem 22 for germanium, for which the energy gap is 0.74 eV.
E = hc/; = hc/E
= 1240/0.74 nm = 1.676 m
24 Work Problem 22 for diamond, for which the energy gap is 7.0 eV.
E = hc/; = hc/E
= 1240/7.0 nm = 177 nm
25* A photon of wavelength 3.35 m has just enough energy to raise an electron from the valence band to the
conduction band in a lead sulfide crystal. (a) Find the energy gap between these bands in lead sulfide. (b) Find the
temperature T for which kT equals this energy gap.
(a) Eg = hc/
Eg = 1240/3350 eV = 0.370 eV
(b) T = Eg/k; k = 8.62105 eV/K
T = 4.29103 K
26 (a) Use Equation 27-24 to calculate the superconducting energy gap for tin (Tc = 3.72 K) and compare your
result with the measured value of 6104 eV. (b) Use the measured value to calculate the wavelength of a photon
having sufficient energy to break up Cooper pairs in tin at T = 0.
Eg = 3.58.625105 3.72 eV = 1.12 meV; about twice
(a) Eg = 3.5kTc
the measured value.
(b) = hc/Eg
= 1240/6104 nm = 2.07106 nm = 2.07 mm
27 Repeat Problem 26 for lead (Tc = 7.19 K), which has a measured energy gap of 2.7310 3 eV.
(a) Eg = 3.5kTc
Eg = 2.17 meV; this is about 80% of the measured value
(b) = hc/Eg
= 0.454 mm
28 The number of electrons in the conduction band of an insulator or intrinsic semiconductor is governed chiefly
by the Fermi factor. Since the valence band in these materials is nearly filled and the conduction band is nearly
empty, the Fermi energy EF is generally midway between the top of the valence band and bottom of the conduction
band, i.e., at Eg/2, where Eg is the band gap between the two bands and the energy is measured from the top of the

Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

valence band. (a) In silicon, Eg 1.0 eV. Show that in this case the Fermi factor for electrons at the bottom of the
conduction band is given by exp(Eg/2kT) and evaluate this factor. Discuss the significance of this result if there
are 1022 valence electrons per cubic centimeter and the probability of finding an electron in the conduction band is
given by the Fermi factor. (b) Repeat the calculation in (a) for an insulator with a band gap of 6.0 eV.
(a) At the bottom of the conduction band, e(E E F ) /kT = eE g / 2 kT >>> 1 for T near room temperature. We can
then neglect the 1 in the denominator of the Fermi function and f(Eg/2) = e E g / 2 kT . We take T = 300 K; then the
Fermi factor is exp[0.5/(8.625105300)] = 4.05109. Given that low a probability of finding an electron in a
state near the bottom of the conduction band, the exclusion principle has no significant impact on the distribution
function. With 1022 valence electrons per cubic centimeter, the number of electrons in the conduction band will be
about 4.051013 per cm3.
(b) With Eg = 6 eV, the Fermi factor at the bottom of the conduction band is now 4.441051, and the
probability of finding even one electron in the conduction band is negligibly small (41029).
29* Show that at E = EF, the Fermi factor is F = 0.5.
For E = EF, e(E E F ) /kT = e0 = 1 . Consequently, f(EF) = 1/2
30 What is the difference between the energies at which the Fermi factor is 0.9 and 0.1 at 300 K in (a) copper,
(b) potassium, and (c) aluminum.
(a) Find E - EF for f(E) = 0.1
0.1{exp[(E EF)/300k]} = 0.9; E EF = 0.057 eV
Find E - EF for f(E) = 0.9
0.9{exp[(E EF)/300k]} = 0.1; E EF = 0.057 eV
E = E(0.1) E(0.9); independent of EF
E = 0.114 eV
(b), (c) E same as for (a)
E = 0.114 eV
31 What is the probability that a conduction electron in silver will have a kinetic energy of 4.9 eV at T = 300 K?
Since EF 4.9 eV >> 300k, f(4.9 eV) = 1
32 Show that g(E) = (3N / 2) E 3F / 2 E1 / 2 (Equation 27-30) follows from Equation 27-28 for g(E), and Equation
27-15a for EF.
3N
From Equ. 27-15a, V =

8 me E F
2

3/ 2

. Substitute this expression for V in Equ. 27-28 and simplify. The result

is Equ. 27-30.

33*

Carry out the integration E av 1 / N

EF

Eg ( E )dE
0

1
N

EF

Eg ( E )dE 2 E

3 / 2
F

EF

E
0

3/ 2

dE

to show that the average energy at T = 0 is 3 E F .


5

3 3 / 2 2 5 / 2 3
EF
EF EF
2
5
5

The density of the electron states in a metal can be written g(E) = AE 1/2, where A is a constant and E is
3/ 2
2
. (b)
measured from the bottom of the conduction band. (a) Show that the total number of states is AE
3
F

34

Approximately what fraction of the conduction electrons are within kT of the Fermi energy? (c) Evaluate this
fraction for copper at T = 300 K.
EF

(a) N

AE
0

1/ 2

dE

2
AE F3 / 2 0. (b) The fraction of N within kT of EF is kTg(EF)/N = 3kT/2EF.
3

Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

(c) For copper at T = 300 K, 3kT/2EF = 5.51103.


35 What is the probability that a conduction electron in silver will have a kinetic energy of 5.49 eV at T = 300 K?
(a) Find f(E) for E = 5.49 eV, EF = 5.50, T = 300 K
f(5.49 eV) = [exp(0.01/0.0259) + 1]1 = 0.595
36 Use the density-of-states function, Equation 27-28, to estimate the fraction of the conduction electrons in
copper that can absorb energy from collisions with the vibrating lattice ions at (a) 77 K and (b) 300 K.
Fraction = 3778.625105/27.04 = 1.42103
(a) Use the result of Problem 34(b); T = 77 K
Fraction = 5.51103
(b) Repeat (a) for T = 300 K; see Problem 34(c)
37* In an intrinsic semiconductor, the Fermi energy is about midway between the top of the valence band and the
bottom of the conduction band. In germanium, the forbidden energy band has a width of 0.7 eV. Show that at
room temperature the distribution function of electrons in the conduction band is given by the MaxwellBoltzmann distribution function.
n(E) = g(E)f(E). In this case, exp[(E EF)/kT] = exp[(E Eg/2)/kT] >> 1 so the f (E) = e E g / 2 kT e E/kT . So,
using Equ. 27-30, we have
n(E) =

3N 3 / 2 E g / 2 kT 1 / 2 E/kT
EF e
E e
2

There is generally an additional temperature dependence that arises from the fact that EF depends on T. At room
temperature, exp[(E Eg/2)/kT] exp(0.35/0.0259) = 7.4105, so the approximation leading to the Boltzmann
distribution is justified.
38 (a) Show that for E 0, the Fermi factor may be written as
1
f(E) = E / kT
+1
Ce
(b) Show that if C >> eE/kT, f(E) = AeE/kT << 1; in other words, show that the Fermi factor is a constant times the
classical Boltzmann factor if A << 1. (c) Use n(E) dE = N and Equation 27-28 to determine the constant A. (d)
Using the result obtained in part (c), show that the classical approximation is applicable when the electron
concentration is very small and/or the temperature is very high. (e) Most semiconductors have impurities added in
a process called doping, which increases the free electron concentration so that it is about 1017/cm3 at room
temperature. Show that for these systems, the classical distribution function is applicable.
1
(a) Let C = e E F /kT . Then Equ. 27-32 becomes f (E) =
.
E/kT
Ce
+1
(b) For the condition stated, one may neglect the 1 in the denominator of the expression for f(E). Then
f(E) = AeE/kT, where A = 1/C.

8 2me3 / 2V
(kT )3/2
1 / 2 E / kT
E
e
de
(c) N A
.
The
definite
integral
has
the
value
. Solving for A one
0
h3
2
obtains
A =

2 h3 N
1

.
8 3/2 m3e / 2 V (kT )3 / 2

(d) The constant factor has the value 1.061056 in SI units. At room temperature, kT 41021 J, so A 41026n,
where n = (N/V) is the electron concentration. The valence electron concentration is typically about 10 29 m3. To meet

Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

the condition A << 1 at room temperature n should be less than 1023 m3, or about one millionth of the valence
electron concentration. Since A depends on T3/2, the electron concentration may be greater the higher the
temperature.
(e) 1017 cm3 = 1023 m3. So according to the criterion in (d), the classical approximation is applicable.
39 Show that the condition for the applicability of the classical distribution function for an electron gas (A << 1
in Problem 38) is equivalent to the requirement that the average separation between electrons is much greater than
their de Broglie wavelength.
1/6
1
2 h
Note that d, the separation between electrons is approximately (V/N)1/3 = 1/3 1/2 1/ 2
1/ 2 1/ 3 .
8 me (kT ) A
Now p ~ (2kTm)1/2 so d ~ 0.2h/pA1/3 = 0.2/A1/3. It follows that if A << 1 then d >> .
40 The root-mean-square (rms) value of a variable is obtained by calculating the average value of the square of
that variable and then taking the square root of the result. Use this procedure to determine the rms energy of a
Fermi distribution. Express your result in terms of EF and compare it to the average energy. Why do Eav and Erms
differ?
We shall do this problem for kT << EF, i.e., in the approximation T = 0.

Erms

EF

g (E)E
0

1/ 2

dE

3
2( EF ) 3 / 2

EF

E
0

5/ 2

1/ 2

dE

3
E = 0.655 EF. Note that Erms > Eav because
7

the process of averaging the square of the energy weighs larger energies more heavily.
41* When a star with a mass of about twice that of the sun exhausts its nuclear fuel, it collapses to a neutron star,
a dense sphere of neutrons of about 10 km diameter. Neutrons are spin 21 particles and, like electrons, are subject
to the exclusion principle. (a) Determine the neutron density of such a neutron star. (b) Find the Fermi energy of
the neutron distribution.
(a) Find N/V; N = M/mn; V = D3/6
N/V = 4.571045 m3
EF = 8.771011 J = 548 MeV
(b) Use Equ. 27-15a, replacing me by mn
42 True or false:
(a) Solids that are good electrical conductors are usually good heat conductors.
(b) The classical free-electron theory adequately explains the heat capacity of metals.
(c) At T = 0, the Fermi factor is either 1 or 0.
(d) The Fermi energy is the average energy of an electron in a solid.
(e) The contact potential between two metals is proportional to the difference in the work functions of the two
metals.
(f) At T = 0, an intrinsic semiconductor is an insulator.
(g) Semiconductors conduct current in one direction only.
(a) True (b) False (c) True (d) False (e) True (f) True (g) False
43 How does the change in the resistivity of copper compare with that of silicon when the temperature increases?
The resistivity of copper increases with increasing temperature; the resistivity of (pure) silicon decreases with
increasing temperature because the number of charge carriers increases.
44 The density of potassium is 0.851 g/cm3. How many free electrons are there per potassium atom?
ne = electrons/atom = nM/NA
ne = 1.07 electrons/atom

Chapter 27

The Microscopic Theory of Electrical Conduction

45* Calculate the number density of free electrons for (a) Mg ( = 1.74 g/cm3) and (b) Zn ( = 7.1 g/cm3),
assuming two free electrons per atom, and compare your results with the values listed in Table 27-1.
(a), (b) n = 2NA/M
(a) n = 26.0210231.74/24.3 = 8.621022
(b) n = 13.11022
The calculated values agree well with Table 27-1
46 Estimate the fraction of free electrons in copper that are in excited states above the Fermi energy at (a) room
temperature of 300 K and (b) 1000 K.
The fraction that can be excited thermally are those within about kT of EF.
fraction = 5.51103
(a) See Problem 27-34
fraction = 5.51103(10/3) = 1.82102
(b) Repeat (a) for T = 1000 K
47 A 2-cm2 wafer of pure silicon is irradiated with light having a wavelength of 775 nm. The intensity of the
light beam is 4.0 W/m2 and every photon that strikes the sample is absorbed and creates an electronhole pair. (a)
How many electronhole pairs are produced in one second? (b) If the number of electronhole pairs in the sample
is 6.251011 in the steady state, at what rate do the electronhole pairs recombine? (c) If every recombination
event results in the radiation of one photon, at what rate is energy radiated by the sample?
(a) Find the number of photons/s that hit the surface. N = 4.02104/[1.61019(1240/775)] = 3.1251015
Number of electronhole pairs per second = 3.1251015
Number of electron-hole pairs per second = N
(b) In the steady state, rate of recombination = rate of Recombination rate = 3.1251015 s1
generation
Prad = 8104 W = 0.8 mJ/s
(c) Power radiated = power absorbed