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Electrical conductivity

Energy bands in solids

Band structure and conductivity
Intrinsic semiconductors
Doped semiconductors
n-type materials
p-type materials
Diodes and transistors
p-n junction
depletion region
forward biased p-n junction
reverse biased p-n junction diode

R = L/A, R = resistance, L = length, A = cross section area; resistivity at 20

C in order of conductivity:
superconductors, conductors, semiconductors, insulators
superconductors: certain materials have zero resistivity at very low
conductors: material capable of carrying electric current, i.e. material
which has mobile charge carriers (e.g. electrons, ions,..) e.g. metals,
liquids with ions (water, molten ionic compounds), plasma.
semiconductors: materials with conductivity between that of conductors
and insulators; e.g. germanium Ge, silicon Si, GaAs, GaP, InP.
insulators: materials with no or very few free charge carriers; e.g. quartz,
most covalent and ionic solids, plastics

In solid materials, electron energy levels form bands of
allowed energies, separated by forbidden bands
valence band = outermost (highest) band filled with
electrons (filled = all states occupied)
conduction band = next highest band to valence band
(empty or partly filled)
gap = energy difference between valence and conduction
bands, = width of the forbidden band

electrons in a completely filled band cannot move, since
all states occupied (Pauli principle); only way to move
would be to jump into next higher band - needs energy;
electrons in partly filled band can move, since there are
free states to move to.

Classification of solids into three types,
according to their band structure:

Insulators: gap = forbidden region between
highest filled band (valence band) and lowest
empty or partly filled band (conduction band) is
very wide, about 3 to 6 eV;

semiconductors: gap is small - about 0.1 to 1 eV;

conductors: valence band only partially filled, or
(if it is filled), the next allowed empty band
overlaps with it
Band structure and conductivity
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

A material whose properties are such that it is not quite a
conductor, not quite an insulator
Some common semiconductors
Si - Silicon (most common)
Ge - Germanium
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
Whats so special about Silicon?
Cheap and abundant
Amazing mechanical,
chemical and electronic
The material is very
well-known to mankind
: 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
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
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
Energy Bands in
The space
between the
bands is the
energy gap,
or forbidden
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
Insulators, Semiconductors, and Metals
The 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
electrons easily jump to conduction bands due to thermal
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)
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
Improving Conduction by Doping (cont.)
Boron has 3 electrons
in its outer shell, so it
contributes a hole if it
displaces a silicon
boron is an acceptor
yields p type silicon
Boronbecomes negative
ion after accepting an
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
Can be done with
constant concentration in
close to straight line
concentration gradient
Or with constant number
of atoms per unit area
bell-shaped gradient
Diffusion causes
spreading of doped areas
Hole and Electron Concentrations
To produce reasonable levels of conduction doesnt require
much doping
silicon has about 5 x 10

typical dopant levels are about 10
In undoped (intrinsic) silicon, the number of holes and number
of free electrons is equal, and their product equals a constant
actually, n
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
At 0 Kelvin Silicon density
is 5x10 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
The N in N-type stands for
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
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
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
Electron volt is an atomic measurement
unit, 1 eV energy is necessary to decrease of
the potential of the electron with 1 V.
E eV
11 .
1eV 1.602 10 joule

Silicon crystal in pure form is
good insulator - all electrons
are bonded to silicon atom
Replacement of Si atoms can
alter electrical properties of
Group number - indicates
number of electrons in
valence level (Si - Group IV)
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
Intrinsic silicon:


Donor (n-type) impurities:
Dopant with 5 valence electrons (e.g. P, As, Sb)
4 electrons used for covalent bonds with surrounding Si
atoms, one electron left over; left over electron is only
loosely bound only small amount of energy needed
to lift it into conduction band (0.05 eV in Si)
n-type semiconductor, has conduction electrons, no
holes (apart from the few intrinsic holes)

n-type material
Acceptor (p-type) impurities:
dopant with 3 valence electrons (e.g. B, Al, Ga, In) only 3 of the
4 covalent bonds filled vacancy in the fourth covalent bond
p-type semiconductor, has mobile holes, very few mobile
electrons (only the intrinsic ones).
p-type material
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
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
Electric field forms due to fixed charges in the depletion region
Depletion region has high resistance due to lack of mobile charges
p-n junction = semiconductor in which impurity
changes abruptly from p-type to n-type ;
diffusion = movement due to difference in
concentration, from higher to lower concentration;
in absence of electric field across the junction, holes
diffuse towards and across boundary into n-type and
capture electrons;
electrons diffuse across boundary, fall into holes
(recombination of majority carriers); formation of a
depletion region(= region without free charge carriers)
around the boundary;
charged ions are left behind (cannot move):
negative ions left on p-side net negative charge on p-side of
the junction;
positive ions left on n-side net positive charge on n-side of the
electric field across junction which prevents further diffusion.