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SEMICONDUCTOR BASICS

ATOMIC STRUCTURE

Atom
o

The smallest particle of an element that retains

Ionization

atom. If a valence electron acquires enough energy from

the characteristics of that element


o

This gives each element a unique atomic structure

According to the

an outside source such as heat, it can jump out of the


valence band and break away from its atom.

classical Bohr model,

planetary type of

structure that consists

Figure 1 The Bohr Model

neutrons. The protons have a positive charge and the


neutrons are uncharged. The number of protons is the
atomic number of the atom.

An atom has discrete bands of energy called shells in

All shells in a given atom must be completely filled


with electrons except the outer shell

SEMICONDUCTORS, CONDUCTORS, AND INSULATORS


-

All materials are made up of atoms. These atoms


contribute to the electrical properties of a material,

Electrons have a negative charge and orbit around the


nucleus at distances that depend on their energy level.

including its ability to conduct electrical current.

Conductors

which the electrons orbit. Atomic structure allows a

Material that easily conduct electrical current

certain maximum number of electrons in each shell.

The best conductors are single element materials

These shells are designated 1, 2, 3, and so on. In their

which are characterized by atoms with only one

natural state, all atoms are neutral because they have

valence electron very loosely bound to the atom.

an equal number of protons and electrons.

that can

nature and can be calculated by the formula,

electrons

The maximum number of electrons

exist in each shell of an atom is the fact of

surrounded by orbiting

consists of protons and

The escaped valence electron is called a free electron.

The Number of Electrons in Each Shell


o

of a central nucleus

The nucleus of an atom

The process of losing a valence electron is known as


ionization.

atoms have a

Electrons have the highest energy of all those in the

The outermost shell or band of an atom is called the

valence band, and electrons that orbit in this band are


called valence electrons.

Examples: copper, silver, gold, and aluminum.

Insulators
o

material

that

does

not

current under normal conditions.

conduct

electrical

o
o

Most good insulators are compounds rather than

hear about gasfets and gas ICs, youre hearing

single-element materials.

about gallium-arsenide technology.

Valence electrons are tightly bound to the atoms;

Gallium arsenide works better than silicon in

therefore, there are very few free electrons in an

several

insulator.

function at higher frequencies because the charge

Semiconductors
o

material

that

in

its

is

between

ability

to

conductors
conduct

and

will

X rays and gamma rays. GaAs is used in light-

current.

emitting

A semiconductor in its pure state is neither a

diodes, visible-light and infrared detectors, ultra-

good conductor nor a good insulator.

high-frequency amplifying devices, and a variety of

Examples: silicon, germanium, carbon and gallium

integrated circuits.

diodes,

infrared-emitting

diodes,

laser

The primary disadvantage of GaAs is that it is

Single-element semiconductors are characterized by

more expensive to produce than silicon.


o

Selenium
Selenium has resistance that varies depending

Semiconductor materials

on the intensity of light that falls on it. All

Silicon

semiconductor

Silicon (chemical symbol Si) is widely used in


diodes,

transistors,

and

integrated

materials

exhibit

this

property,

known as photoconductivity, to a greater or lesser

circuits.

degree, but selenium is especially affected. For this

Generally, other substances, or impurities, must be

reason, selenium is useful for making photocells.

added to silicon to give it the desired properties.

voltage,

electrical

SEMICONDUCTORS
o

less

immune to the effects of ionizing radiation such as

atoms with four valence electrons.

needs

and

arsenide
o

It

carriers move faster. GaAs devices are relatively

insulators
o

ways.

Selenium

is

also

used

in

certain types of

The best quality silicon is obtained by growing

rectifiers. This is a device that converts ac to dc;

crystals

youll learn about rectification in chapters 20 and

in

laboratory.

The

silicon

is

then

fabricated into wafers or chips.

21. The main advantage of selenium over silicon is

Gallium arsenide

that selenium can withstand brief transients, or

Another
compound

common
gallium

semiconductor
arsenide.

is

the

Engineers

and

surges of abnormally high voltage.


o

Germanium

technicians call this material by its acronym-like

Pure germanium is a poor electrical conductor.

chemical symbol, GaAs, pronounced gas. If you

It becomes a semiconductor when impurities are

added. Germanium was used extensively in the

The biggest problem with MOS and CMOS is

early years of semiconductor technology. Some

that the devices are easily damaged by static

diodes and transistors still use it.

electricity.

A germanium diode has a low voltage drop

Care

must

be

used

when

handling

components of this type.

when it conducts, and this makes it useful in some


situations. But germanium is easily destroyed by

heat. Extreme care must be used when soldering


o

Intrinsic Semiconductors
o

Intrinsic materials are those semiconductors that

the leads of a germanium component.

have

Metal oxides

impurities to a very low levelessentially as pure

Certain metal oxides have properties that make

as

them useful in the manufacture of semiconductor


or

technology,

CMOS
you are

semiconductor

and

(pronounced
hearing

sea

about

complementary

can

be

carefully
made

refined
available

to

reduce

through

the

modern

technology.

devices. When you hear about MOS (pronounced


moss)

been

moss)

Semiconductor materials such as Ge and Si that


show a reduction in resistance with increase in

metal-oxide

temperature

are

said

metal-oxide

temperature coefficient.

to

have

negative

semiconductor devices, respectively.


One advantage of MOS and CMOS devices is
that they need almost no power to function. They
draw so little current that a battery in a MOS or
CMOS device lasts just about as long as it would
on the shelf. Another advantage is high speed.
This allows operation at high frequencies, and
makes it possible to perform many calculations per
second.
Certain types of transistors, and many kinds of

Figure 2 Atomic structure:


(a) germanium; (b) silicon.

integrated circuits, make use of this technology. In


integrated circuits, MOS and CMOS allows for a
large number of discrete diodes and transistors on
a single chip. Engineers would say that MOS/CMOS
has high component density.

Figure 3 Covalent bonding of


the silicon atom.

Extrinsic Materials n-type & p-type


o

The characteristics of semiconductor materials can


be altered significantly by the addition of certain

impurity

atoms

into

the

relatively

pure

This

remaining

electron,

loosely

bound

to

its

semiconductor material. These impurities, although

parent (antimony) atom, is relatively free to

only added to perhaps 1 part in 10 million, can

move within the newly formed n-type material.

alter the band structure sufficiently to totally

Since the inserted impurity atom has donated a

change the electrical properties of the material.

relatively free electron to the structure:

A semiconductor material that has been subjected


to

the

doping

process

is

called

an

extrinsic

Diffused impurities with five valence electrons are


called donor atoms.

material.

Implantation the injection of dopants in a


wafer at a very high velocity

p-Type material
o

The p-type material is formed by doping a pure

Diffusion the injection of dopants in a

germanium or silicon crystal with impurity atoms

wafer at a very high frequency.

having three valence electrons (trivalent). The

There are two extrinsic materials of immeasurable

elements most frequently used for this purpose

importance to semiconductor device fabrication: n-

are boron, gallium, aluminum and indium.

type and p-type.

There is now an insufficient number of electrons


to complete the covalent bonds of the newly

n-Type material
o

The

formed lattice. The resulting vacancy is called a


those

hole and is represented by

impurity elements that have five valence electrons

a small circle or positive

(pentavalent), such as antimony, arsenic, bismuth

sign due to the absence of

and phosphorus.

a negative charge.

Note

n-type

that

is

created

the

by

introducing

four

Since the resulting vacancy

covalent bonds are still

will readily accept a free

present.

electron:

There

is,

however,

an

impurities

The
with

diffused
three

additional fifth electron

valence electrons are called

due

acceptor atoms.

to

the

atom,
unassociated

impurity

which
with

is
any

particular covalent bond.

Figure 4 Antimony impurity


in n-type material.

Figure 5 Boron impurity


in p-type material.

Electron versus Hole Flow


o

If a valence electron acquires sufficient kinetic

The semiconductor diode is formed by simply bringing

energy to break its covalent bond and fills the void

these materials together (constructed from the same

created by a hole, then a vacancy, or hole, will be

baseGe or Si).

created in the covalent bond that released the

SEMICONDUCTOR DIODE

At the instant the two materials are joined the

electron. There is, therefore, a transfer of holes

electrons and holes in the region of the junction will

to the left and electrons to the right.

combine, resulting in a lack of carriers in the region near

Conventional flow - indicated by the direction of

the junction.

hole flow.

This region of uncovered positive and negative ions is


called the depletion region due to the depletion of
carriers in this region.

Figure 6 Electron
versus hole flow.

Since the diode is a two-terminal device, the application


of a voltage across its terminals leaves three possibilities:
no bias (VD = 0 V), forward bias (VD > 0 V), and

Majority and Minority Carriers


o

In an n-type material the electron is called the

reverse bias (VD < 0 V). Each is a condition that will


result

in

response

that

the

user

must

clearly

understand if the device is to be applied effectively.

majority carrier and the hole the minority carrier.


o

In a p-type material the hole is the majority


carrier and the electron is the minority carrier.

The n- and p-type materials represent the basic


building blocks of semiconductor devices.
Figure 8 p-n junction
with no external bias.

Figure 7 (a) n-type material; (b) p-type material.

No Applied Bias (VD = 0 V)

Forward-Bias Condition (VD > 0 V)

In the absence of an applied bias voltage, the net flow of


charge

in

any

one

direction

for

Note that the arrow is associated with


the n-type region. As indicated, for VD =
0 V, the current in any direction is 0

Reverse-Bias Condition (VD < 0 V)

to the n-type material and the negative terminal is


p-type

material,

the

semiconductor

diode

is

number

of

Forward-bias p-n
junction
Figure 13 Forwardbias condition for a
semiconductor.

free electrons drawn to the positive potential of the


applied voltage.
The current that exists under reverse-bias conditions is
called the reverse saturation current and is represented
by Is.
Negative potential is connected to the p-type material
and the positive potential to the n-type materialthe
difference in underlined letters for each region revealing a
reverse-bias condition.

Figure 10
Reverse-bias pn junction

when

Figure 12

type material will increase due to the large number of

established

forward-biased

uncovered positive ions in the depletion region of the n-

is

bias condition

p-n junction such that the positive terminal is connected


the

condition

has been established.

Figure 9 No-

If an external potential of V volts is applied across the

to

on

by

the

association p-type and positive and n-type and negative

for a
semiconductor

mA.

connected

or

and the negative potential to the n-type material.

the p-type component and the bar with

forward-bias

applying the positive potential to the p-type material

semiconductor diode is zero.

Figure 11 Reversebias condition for


a semiconductor

Figure 14 Silicon semiconductor diode


characteristics

DIODE EQUIVALENT CIRCUITS/DIODE APPROXIMATION

An

equivalent

circuit

is

combination

of

It states that a forward-biased silicon diode in an

elements

electronic system under dc conditions has a drop of 0.7

properly chosen to best represent the actual terminal

V across it in the conduction state at any level of diode

characteristics of a device, system, or such in a particular

current (within rated values, of course).

operating region.

Once the equivalent circuit is defined, the device symbol


can be removed from a schematic and the equivalent
circuit inserted in its place without severely affecting the
actual behavior of the system.
Figure 17 Simplified equivalent circuit for the silicon semiconductor diode

Piecewise-Linear Equivalent Circuit


(Practical or Actual)

Ideal Equivalent Circuit

One technique for obtaining an

A perfect two-state device that exhibits zero impedance

equivalent circuit for a diode is


to

approximate

when forward-biased and infinite impedance when reversed

the

biased.

characteristics of the device by

Diode

straight-line segments.

model

model

by

definition

being

representation of an existing device, object, system, and


Figure 16 Defining the piecewiselinear equivalent circuit using
Figure 15 Components of a
piecewise-linear equivalent circuit.

Ideal diode is a short circuit when forward-biased and

straight-line segments to

open circuit when reverse-biased. For conventional flow

approximate the characteristic

(opposite to that of electron flow), if the resultant

curve.

diode current has the same direction of the arrowhead of


the diode, the diode is operating in the conducting state

Simplified Equivalent Circuit

so on.

For most applications, the resistance is sufficiently small

(forward-biased).

to be ignored in comparison to the other elements of


the network.

This

approximation

is

semiconductor circuit analysis.

frequently

employed

in

Figure 18 Ideal Diode


and its characteristics

Table 1 Approximate and Ideal Semiconductor Diode Models

REFERENCES

Semiconductor

Diodes,

pp.

Devices and Circuit Theory 7

th

1-50,

Electronic

ed. , R. Boylestad

et.al.

Introduction to Semiconductors, pp. 359-367,


Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics 3rd ed.,
S. Gibilisco

Semiconductor

Basics,

pp.

3-48,

Electronics

Devices Conventional Current Version 7

th

ed., T.

Floyd

Semiconductors & Diode Theory, pp. 33-87


Electronic Principles 7th ed., A. Malvino et. al.

He who labors diligently need never despair; for all


things are accomplished by diligence and labor.
-Manander of Athens
Prepared by:

Engr. Mark Angelo C. Purio


ECE Department, College of Engineering
Adamson University