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PHYSICS OF

SEMICONDUCTORS
PN JUNCTION DIODES AND
RESISTORS

OVERVIEW
Semiconductor fundamentals
Doping
PN Junction
Diode Equation
Zener Diodes
LEDs

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SEMICONDUCTOR: AN
INTRODUCTION

Insulators: Do not Allow Electric current to flow


through them

Semiconductors: Materials whose conductivity


lies in between of Conductors and Semiconductor

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Conductors: Allow Electric


current to flow through them

SEMICONDUCTORS
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

compound

GaAs - Gallium arsenide


GaP - Gallium phosphide
AlAs - Aluminum arsenide
AlP - Aluminum phosphide
InP - Indium Phosphide

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elemental

CRYSTALLINE SOLIDS

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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

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INTRINSIC NATURE OF 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

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CRYSTALLINE STRUCTURE OF
SEMICONDUCTOR

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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

CRYSTALLINE STRUCTURE OF
SEMICONDUCTOR

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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

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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
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INSULATORS, SEMICONDUCTORS,
AND METALS: COMPARISON

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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)

Overlap

Band
Gap

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Conduction
Band

More Band
Gap

Valence
Band
Conductor Semiconductor Insulator

ELECTRON-HOLE PAIRS
Sometimes thermal energy is enough to cause an
electron to jump from the valence band to the
conduction band
Electrons also fall back out of the conduction
band into the valence band, combining with a
hole

hole

pair creation

electron

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pair elimination

DOPING AND CONDUCTION

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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)

DOPING AND CONDUCTION


CONTINUED...

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

n type silicon

sometimes use + symbol to indicate heavier doping, so n+


silicon

phosphorus

electron

becomes positive ion after giving up

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produces

DOPING AND CONDUCTION


CONTINUED

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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

DIFFUSION OF DOPANTS

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

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It is also possible to introduce


dopants into silicon by heating
them so they diffuse into the silicon

Top
vie
w

Side
view

DIFFUSION OF DOPANTS
(CONTINUED)

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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 cm2
typically 1012 per cm2 - 1016 per cm2
Flux is over entire surface of silicon
use masks to cover areas where implantation is
not wanted
Heat afterward to work into crystal lattice

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HOLE AND ELECTRON


CONCENTRATIONS
To produce reasonable levels of conduction
doesnt require much doping
silicon has about 5 x 1022 atoms/cm3
typical dopant levels are about 1015
atoms/cm3
In undoped (intrinsic) silicon, the number of
holes and number of free electrons is equal,
and their product equals a constant
actually, ni 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

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There are two types of doping

DOPING

N-type and P-type.

A column V ion is inserted.


The extra valence electron is
free to move about the lattice
The P in P-type stands for
positive.

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The N in N-type stands for


negative.

A column III ion is inserted.


Electrons from the
surrounding Silicon move to fill

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

band of energy levels is called the valence band

This

is the conduction band

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That

Within the same valence shell, but at a slightly higher


energy level, is yet another band of continuously variable,
allowed energy levels

BAND GAP

EG

This is the band gap


E G 11
. eV

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.

1eV 1.602 10 19 joule

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Between the valence and the conduction band is a range


of energy levels where there are no allowed states for an
electron

COUNTER DOPING

The extra electron and the


extra hole cancel out

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Insert more than one type


of Ion

P-N JUNCTION

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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)

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

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Group

THE P-N JUNCTION

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Direction of
Current

DEPLETION LAYER FORMATION

The potential or voltage across the


silicon changes in the depletion
region and goes from + in the n
region to in the p region

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BIASING THE P-N DIODE

DIODES CAN BE
CONSIDERED AS SWITCH

Reverse Bias

Applies voltage to the


n region and +
voltage to the
p region

Applies +
voltage to n
region and
voltage to p
region

CURRENT!

NO CURRENT

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Forward Bias

P-N JUNCTION REVERSE BIAS

Depletion layer width


Increses

No current Flow

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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

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positive voltage placed on p-type material


holes in p-type move away from positive terminal, electrons in ntype 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)
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CURRENT-VOLTAGE
CHARACTERISTICS
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THE IDEAL DIODE


Positive voltage yields
finite current
Negative voltage yields
zero current

REAL DIODE

THE IDEAL DIODE EQUATION

q 1602
.
10 19 coulomb , the electronic ch arg e
eV
k 8.62 10 5
, Boltzmann' s cons tan t
K

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qV
I I 0 exp

1
,

kT

where
I 0 diode current with reverse bias

SEMICONDUCTOR DIODE - OPENED


REGION
The

Opened:

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p-side is the cathode, the n-side is the anode


The dropped voltage, VD is measured from the
cathode to the anode

VD VF:
VD = V F
ID = circuit limited, in our model the VD cannot exceed
VF

SEMICONDUCTOR DIODE - CUT-OFF


REGION
Cut-off:

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0 < VD < VF:


ID 0 mA

SEMICONDUCTOR DIODE - CLOSED


REGION

VD

VF < VD 0:

is determined by the circuit, I D = 0 mA

Typical

values of VF: 0.5 0.7 V

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Closed:

ZENER EFFECT
Zener

Utilization of the Zener effect


Typical break down values of VZ : -4.5 ... -15 V

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break down: VD <= VZ:


VD = VZ, ID is determined by the circuit.
In case of standard diode the typical values of the
break down voltage VZ of the Zener effect -20 ... -100
V
Zener diode

LED
emitting diode, made from GaAs

VF=1.6 V

IF >= 6 mA

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Light

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