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Semiconductor Physics

Semiconductor fundamentals
Doping
Pn junction
The Diode Equation
Zener diode
LED
What Is a Semiconductor?




Many materials, such as most metals, allow electrical current to
flow through them
These are known as conductors
Materials that do not allow electrical current to flow through
them are called insulators
Pure silicon, the base material of most transistors, is considered
a semiconductor because its conductivity can be modulated by
the introduction of impurities

Semiconductors
A material whose properties are such that it is not quite a
conductor, not quite an insulator
Some common semiconductors
elemental
Si - Silicon (most common)
Ge - Germanium
compound
GaAs - Gallium arsenide
GaP - Gallium phosphide
AlAs - Aluminum arsenide
AlP - Aluminum phosphide
InP - Indium Phosphide
Crystalline Solids
In a crystalline solid, the periodic arrangement of atoms is
repeated over the entire crystal
Silicon crystal has a diamond lattice
Crystalline Nature of Silicon
Silicon as utilized in integrated circuits is crystalline in nature
As with all crystalline material, silicon consists of a repeating
basic unit structure called a unit cell
For silicon, the unit cell consists of an atom surrounded by four
equidistant nearest neighbors which lie at the corners of the
tetrahedron
Whats so special about Silicon?
Cheap and abundant
Amazing mechanical, chemical and
electronic properties
The material is very well-known to
mankind
SiO
2
: sand, glass
Si is column IV of the
periodic table
Similar to the carbon
(C) and the
germanium (Ge)
Has 3s and 3p
valence electrons
Nature of Intrinsic Silicon
Silicon that is free of doping impurities is called
intrinsic
Silicon has a valence of 4 and forms covalent
bonds with four other neighboring silicon atoms
Semiconductor Crystalline Structure
Semiconductors have a regular
crystalline structure
for monocrystal, extends
through entire structure
for polycrystal, structure is
interrupted at irregular
boundaries
Monocrystal has uniform 3-
dimensional structure
Atoms occupy fixed positions
relative to one another, but
are in constant vibration about
equilibrium
Semiconductor Crystalline Structure
Silicon atoms have 4
electrons in outer shell
inner electrons are very
closely bound to atom
These electrons are shared
with neighbor atoms on
both sides to fill the shell
resulting structure is
very stable
electrons are fairly
tightly bound
no loose electrons
at room temperature, if
battery applied, very
little electric current
flows
Conduction in Crystal Lattices
Semiconductors (Si and Ge) have 4 electrons in their outer shell
2 in the s subshell
2 in the p subshell
As the distance between atoms decreases the discrete subshells
spread out into bands
As the distance decreases further, the bands overlap and then
separate
the subshell model doesnt hold anymore, and the electrons
can be thought of as being part of the crystal, not part of the
atom
4 possible electrons in the lower band (valence band)
4 possible electrons in the upper band (conduction band)
Energy Bands in Semiconductors
The space
between the
bands is the
energy gap, or
forbidden band
Insulators, Semiconductors, and Metals
This separation of the valence and conduction bands determines
the electrical properties of the material
Insulators have a large energy gap
electrons cant jump from valence to conduction bands
no current flows
Conductors (metals) have a very small (or nonexistent) energy gap
electrons easily jump to conduction bands due to thermal
excitation
current flows easily
Semiconductors have a moderate energy gap
only a few electrons can jump to the conduction band
leaving holes
only a little current can flow
Insulators, Semiconductors, and Metals
(continued)
Conduction
Band
Valence
Band
Conductor Semiconductor Insulator
Hole - Electron Pairs
Sometimes thermal energy is enough to cause an electron to
jump from the valence band to the conduction band
produces a hole - electron pair
Electrons also fall back out of the conduction band into the
valence band, combining with a hole
pair elimination
hole electron
pair creation
Improving Conduction by Doping
To make semiconductors better conductors, add impurities
(dopants) to contribute extra electrons or extra holes
elements with 5 outer electrons contribute an extra electron to
the lattice (donor dopant)
elements with 3 outer electrons accept an electron from the
silicon (acceptor dopant)
Improving Conduction by Doping
(cont.)
Phosphorus and arsenic are
donor dopants
if phosphorus is
introduced into the silicon
lattice, there is an extra
electron free to move
around and contribute to
electric current
very loosely bound to
atom and can easily jump
to conduction band
produces n type silicon
sometimes use + symbol
to indicate heavier
doping, so n+ silicon
phosphorus becomes
positive ion after giving up
electron
Improving Conduction by Doping
(cont.)
Boron has 3 electrons in its outer
shell, so it contributes a hole if it
displaces a silicon atom
boron is an acceptor dopant
yields p type silicon
boron becomes negative ion
after accepting an electron
Epitaxial
Growth of
Silicon
Epitaxy grows silicon on top of
existing silicon
uses chemical vapor
deposition
new silicon has same
crystal structure as
original
Silicon is placed in chamber at
high temperature
1200
o
C (2150
o
F)
Appropriate gases are fed into
the chamber
other gases add
impurities to the mix
Can grow n type, then switch to
p type very quickly
Diffusion of Dopants
It is also possible to introduce
dopants into silicon by heating
them so they diffuse into the
silicon
no new silicon is added
high heat causes diffusion
Can be done with constant
concentration in atmosphere
close to straight line
concentration gradient
Or with constant number of atoms
per unit area
predeposition
bell-shaped gradient
Diffusion causes spreading of
doped areas

top
side
Diffusion of Dopants (continued)
Concentration of dopant in
surrounding atmosphere kept
constant per unit volume
Dopant deposited on
surface - constant
amount per unit area
Ion Implantation of Dopants
One way to reduce the spreading found with diffusion is to use ion
implantation
also gives better uniformity of dopant
yields faster devices
lower temperature process
Ions are accelerated from 5 Kev to 10 Mev and directed at silicon
higher energy gives greater depth penetration
total dose is measured by flux
number of ions per cm
2

typically 10
12
per cm
2
- 10
16
per cm
2

Flux is over entire surface of silicon
use masks to cover areas where implantation is not wanted
Heat afterward to work into crystal lattice
Hole and Electron Concentrations
To produce reasonable levels of conduction doesnt
require much doping
silicon has about 5 x 10
22
atoms/cm
3

typical dopant levels are about 10
15
atoms/cm
3
In undoped (intrinsic) silicon, the number of holes and
number of free electrons is equal, and their product
equals a constant
actually, n
i
increases with increasing temperature
This equation holds true for doped silicon as well, so
increasing the number of free electrons decreases the
number of holes
np = n
i
2
INTRINSIC (PURE) SILICON
At 0 Kelvin Silicon
density is 5*10 particles/cm
Silicon has 4 valence
electrons, it covalently bonds
with four adjacent atoms in
the crystal lattice

Higher temperatures create
free charge carriers.
A hole is created in the
absence of an electron.
At 23C there are 10
particles/cm of free carriers
DOPING
The N in N-type stands for negative.
A column V ion is inserted.
The extra valence electron is free to
move about the lattice
There are two types of doping
N-type and P-type.
The P in P-type stands for positive.
A column III ion is inserted.
Electrons from the surrounding
Silicon move to fill the hole.
Energy-band Diagram
A very important concept in the study of semiconductors is the
energy-band diagram
It is used to represent the range of energy a valence electron can
have
For semiconductors the electrons can have any one value of a
continuous range of energy levels while they occupy the valence
shell of the atom
That band of energy levels is called the valence band
Within the same valence shell, but at a slightly higher energy
level, is yet another band of continuously variable, allowed energy
levels
This is the conduction band
Band Gap
Between the valence and the conduction band is a range of energy
levels where there are no allowed states for an electron
This is the band gap
In silicon at room temperature [in electron volts]:
Electron volt is an atomic measurement unit, 1 eV energy is
necessary to decrease of the potential of the electron with 1 V.
E
G
E eV
G
= 11 .
1eV 1.602 10 joule
19
=

Impurities
Silicon crystal in pure form is
good insulator - all electrons are
bonded to silicon atom
Replacement of Si atoms can alter
electrical properties of
semiconductor
Group number - indicates number
of electrons in valence level (Si -
Group IV)
Impurities
Replace Si atom in crystal with Group V atom
substitution of 5 electrons for 4 electrons in outer shell
extra electron not needed for crystal bonding structure
can move to other areas of semiconductor
current flows more easily - resistivity decreases
many extra electrons --> donor or n-type material
Replace Si atom with Group III atom
substitution of 3 electrons for 4 electrons
extra electron now needed for crystal bonding structure
hole created (missing electron)
hole can move to other areas of semiconductor if electrons continually
fill holes
again, current flows more easily - resistivity decreases
electrons needed --> acceptor or p-type material
COUNTER DOPING
Insert more than one
type of Ion
The extra electron and
the extra hole cancel out
A LITTLE MATH
n= number of free electrons
p=number of holes
ni=number of electrons in intrinsic silicon=10/cm
pi-number of holes in intrinsic silicon= 10/cm
Mobile negative charge = -1.6*10
-19
Coulombs
Mobile positive charge = 1.6*10
-19
Coulombs
At thermal equilibrium (no applied voltage) n*p=(ni)
2

(room temperature approximation)
The substrate is called n-type when it has more than 10 free
electrons (similar for p-type)
P-N Junction
Also known as a diode
One of the basics of semiconductor technology -
Created by placing n-type and p-type material in close
contact
Diffusion - mobile charges (holes) in p-type combine with
mobile charges (electrons) in n-type
P-N Junction
Region of charges left behind (dopants fixed in crystal
lattice)
Group III in p-type (one less proton than Si- negative
charge)
Group IV in n-type (one more proton than Si - positive
charge)
Region is totally depleted of mobile charges - depletion
region
Electric field forms due to fixed charges in the depletion
region
Depletion region has high resistance due to lack of mobile
charges
THE P-N JUNCTION
The Junction

The potential or voltage across
the silicon changes in the depletion
region and goes from + in the n
region to in the p region
Biasing the P-N Diode
Forward Bias
Applies - voltage
to the n region
and + voltage to
the p region
CURRENT!
Reverse Bias
Applies + voltage to
n region and
voltage to p region
NO CURRENT
THINK OF THE
DIODE AS A
SWITCH
P-N Junction Reverse Bias
positive voltage placed on n-type material
electrons in n-type move closer to positive terminal, holes
in p-type move closer to negative terminal
width of depletion region increases
allowed current is essentially zero (small drift current)
P-N Junction Forward Bias
positive voltage placed on p-type material
holes in p-type move away from positive terminal, electrons in n-
type move further from negative terminal
depletion region becomes smaller - resistance of device decreases
voltage increased until critical voltage is reached, depletion region
disappears, current can flow freely
P-N Junction - V-I characteristics
Voltage-Current relationship for a p-n junction (diode)

Current-Voltage Characteristics
THE IDEAL DIODE
Positive voltage yields
finite current
Negative voltage yields
zero current
REAL DIODE
The Ideal Diode Equation
I I
qV
kT
where
I diode current with reverse bias
q coulomb the electronic ch e
k
eV
K
Boltzmann s cons t
=
|
\

|
.
|

(
=
=
=

0
0
19
5
1
1602 10
8 62 10
exp ,
. , arg
. , ' tan
Semiconductor diode - opened region
The p-side is the cathode, the n-side is the anode
The dropped voltage, V
D
is measured from the cathode
to the anode

Opened: V
D
> V
F
:
V
D
= V
F

I
D
= circuit limited, in our model the V
D
cannot exceed V
F
Semiconductor diode - cut-off region
Cut-off: 0 < V
D
< V
F
:
I
D
~ 0 mA
Semiconductor diode - closed region
Closed: V
F
< V
D
s 0:
V
D
is determined by the circuit, I
D
= 0 mA
Typical values of V
F
: 0.5 0.7 V
Zener Effect
Zener break down: V
D
<= V
Z
:
V
D
= V
Z
, I
D
is determined by the circuit.
In case of standard diode the typical values of the break
down voltage V
Z
of the Zener effect -20 ... -100 V
Zener diode
Utilization of the Zener effect
Typical break down values of V
Z
: -4.5 ... -15 V
LED
Light emitting diode, made from GaAs

V
F
=1.6 V

I
F
>= 6 mA