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CNS182 Caltech, Liu&Delbruck 1/10/2007

MOS transistors – the dominant technology Conductors, Semiconductors and Insulators

p+ p+ n+ n+
We need to understand enough about semiconductors and
junctions to understand how MOS transistors work
•Insulators, conductors, semiconductors
•Crystal structure of silicon
•Band structure (valence, conduction, and forbidden bands)
•Holes and electrons
•Mechanisms of charge transport (diffusion & drift)
•Doping with donors and acceptors
•Fermi-Dirac distribution
•Law of mass action (np=ni2)
•p-n junction
•Reverse biased junction and its capacitance
Mead, 1988

The Diamond Structure of Silion Energy bands

Each atom is
bonded to 4

Si dominates because it has a clean oxide interface: SiO2

Grove, 1969

Energy bands arise from periodic strcture of

crystal Electrons and holes
Wavefunctions of
A crystal is like a periodic box • Electrons in the conduction band act like free particles
electron in a box
•Only wavefunctions with discrete • Holes are bubbles in the valence band and also act like
nonzero energies act like free free particles
particles • The electrons move, but it is easier to talk about the
•Wavefunctions at forbidden vacancy (the hole) moving, just like it is easier to talk
energies die off exponentially about a bubble moving than about the water around it
Energy levels

• Quantum-mechanically, a hole acts like an electron,

except that holes have positive charge and the
Ec effective mass in silicon is 2.5 times larger for a hole
than for an electron

Lecture 2, Semiconductor physics 1

CNS182 Caltech, Liu&Delbruck 1/10/2007

The meaning of energy in the band

The thermal energy
• Each degree of freedom of a system in
thermal equilibrium has average energy kT/2
• The thermal voltage kT/q is the voltage a
single charge falls through to pick up the
thermal energy kT
• kT/q=25mV=1/40V at room temperature
• kT/q is the natural scale of voltage for
electronic systems in thermal equilibrium
• The band gap of silicon (1.2eV) is about 50
times kT

The Fermi-Dirac distribution of exclusionary

state occupation at thermal equilibrium An intrinsic semiconductor (no dopants)
States above Fermi level are occupied with Boltzman distribution
− ( E − E f )/ kT
p(occupied) ≈ e
Energy States at the Fermi level are ½ occupied
to Fermi
level in
kT units States below Fermi
level are unoccupied
with Boltzman

− ( E f − E )/ kT Band Density Fermi-Dirac Carrier

p(unoccupied) ≈ e
diagram of states distribution concentrations
Probability of occupation of a state

Donors and Acceptors in the periodic table A donor atom donates a free electron

Binding energy of electron is

reduced from free atom
binding energy (~0.5 eV) by
silicon dielectric constant
ε Si ≈ 12ε 0
Ebinding ≈ ≈ 0.05eV ≈ 2kT
At 300K, nearly all donor
electrons are free – because
there are many more ways to
be free than bound

Lecture 2, Semiconductor physics 2

CNS182 Caltech, Liu&Delbruck 1/10/2007

Doping levels An n-type semiconductor

• Concentration of Si is about 1023/cm3

• Doping can vary from about 1015/cm3 to
• These doping levels still represent only
A p-type semiconductor
a tiny fraction of the total atoms, from
10-8 to 10-4

The law of mass action: np=ni2 An electric field causes carriers to drift
• In equilibrium, more holes means less J = μ ( E )qn
electrons, and vice-versa. Charge density
• np=ni2 Current
Electric field
• ni is the intrinsic carrier density Mobility
• ni increases with temperature
• At room temperature ni is 1010/cm3, or JG JG
J ≈ μ qn E
about 1/1013 Si atoms. JG
for E that causes velocities
much less than the thermal velocity

A density gradient causes carriers to

Mobility is a function of electric field

Diffusion current
J = − Dq∇n
Diffusion density
Grove 1969

Lecture 2, Semiconductor physics 3

CNS182 Caltech, Liu&Delbruck 1/10/2007

Drift and diffusion are related by A P-N junction

The Einstein relation
Mobile majority carriers

J diffusion = − Dq∇n J drift ≈ μ qnE N-type P-type

D= μ
q Fixed ions “Depletion region”
“Space-charge region”

This relation got Einstein his Nobel prize

A P-N junction Charges, fields, and potentials in a PN

N-type P-type

N-type P-type ND NA
Electric field
Diffusion of holes from p region field
φ ϕT =
kT N N
log( A 2 D )
Diffusion of electrons from n region
Electrostatic q ni
In equilibrium, Drift = Diffusion for electrons and holes potential
Typically, the built-in voltage, ϕT, is about 0.75V

Electrostatic potentials in a PN
Carrier densities in a PN junction
N-type P-type N-type P-type

Electrostatic log scale
φ p
Potential: potential
energy of positive n
Potential energy of φe ni
negatively charged

depletion region—both n and p are far below doping values

Lecture 2, Semiconductor physics 4

CNS182 Caltech, Liu&Delbruck 1/10/2007

Carrier densities in a PN junction What was covered

N-type P-type – Insulators, conductors, semiconductors
– Crystal structure of silicon
– Band structure (valence, conduction, and
forbidden bands)
linear scale p – Holes and electrons
– Mechanisms of charge transport (diffusion &
np=ni2 – Doping with donors and acceptors
– Fermi-Dirac distribution
– Law of mass action (np=ni2)
– p-n junction
depletion region—both n and p are far below doping values

MOS transistors – the dominant


p+ p+ n+ n+

Next week:
Understanding how MOS transistors work in weak
and strong inversion

Lecture 2, Semiconductor physics 5