p n junction
Prof.Dr.Beire GNL
p n junction
The pn junction is the basic element of all bipolar
devices. Its main electrical property is that it
rectifies (allow current to flow easily in one
direction only).The pn junction is often just
called a DIODE. Applications;
>photodiode, light sensitive diode,
>LED ligth emitting diode,
>varactor diodevariable capacitance diode
The formation of pn junction :
1)
The pn junction can be formed by pushing a
piece of ptype silicon into close contact with a
piecce of ntype silicon. But forming a pn
junction is not so simply. Because;
There will only be very few points of contact
and any current flow would be restricted to these
few points instead of the whole surface area of
the junction.
2) Silicon that has been exposed to the air always
has a thin oxide coating on its surface called the
native oxide. This oxide is a very good insulator
and will prevent current flow.
3) Bonding arrangement is interrupted at the
surface; dangling bonds.
Surface states
To overcome these surface states problems
pn junction can be formed in the bulk of the
semiconductor, away from the surface as
much as possible.
p n junction
ptype
ntype
EC
E
EC
Ef
E
Ef
EV
EV
EC
E
ptype
ntype
EC
Ef
E
Ef
EV
EV
There is a big discontinuity in the fermi level accross the
pn junction.
Idealized pn junction; recombination of the
carrier and carrier difusion
Hole
Movement
ntype
+++++
+++++
+++++
+++++
+++++
+++++
+++++
+++++

ptype
Metallurgical
junction
Electron
Movement
++++
++++
++++
Fixed positive
spacecharge

Fixed negative
spacecharge
Ohmic
endcontact
p n junction
Lots of electrons on the left hand side of the
junction want to diffuse to the right and lots of
holes on the right hand side of the junction want
to move to the left.
The donors and acceptors fixed,dont move
(unless you heat up semiconductors, so they can
diffuse) because they are elements (such as
arsenic and boron) which are incorporated to
lattice.
However, the electrons and holes that come from
them are free to move.
Idealized pn junction
Holes diffuse to the left of the metalurgical junction and
combine with the electrons on that side. They leave behind
negatively charged acceptor centres.
Similarly, electrons diffusing to the right will leave behind
positively charged donor centres. This diffusion process can not
go on forever. Because, the increasing amount of fixed charge
wants to electrostatically attract the carriers that are trying to
diffuse away(donor centres want to keep the electrons and
acceptor centres want to keep the holes). Equlibrium is
reached.
This fixed charges produce an electric field which slows down
the diffusion process.
This fixed charge region is known as depletion region or space
charge region which is the region the free carriers have left.
It is called as depletion region since it is depleted of free
carriers.
Energy level diagram for the pn junction in thermal equilibrium
ptype
EC
ntype
Electron Drift
Electron Diffusion
Neutral pregion
EC
Ef
Ef
EV
Hole Diffussion
Neutral nregion
EV
Hole Drift
Depletion region
Thermal equilibrium; no applied field; no net
current flow
J p J p (drift ) J p (diffusion) 0 (1)
A
J p is the hole current density ( 2 )
cm
Drift current is due to
electric field at the
junction;
minority
carriers.
Diffusion current is
due
the
to
concentration
gradient;
majority
carriers.
dp
J p q p pEx qD p
0 (2)
dx
where
p kT
1 dEi
Ex
Dp
( Einstein relation)
q dx
q
Proof
Jp
dEi
dp
p( p
kT
)0
dx
dx
p ni exp(
J p p p
Ei E f
dE f
dx
kT
0
we conclude that
(3)
dE f
dp
p dEi
)
)
dx
kT dx
dx
(4)
dE f
0 which states that
dx
the Fermi Level is a CONSTANT at equilibrium.
dE f
J n nn
0 (5)
dx
Proof
The drift and diffusion currents are flowing all the
time. But, in thermal equilibrium, the net current
flow is zero since the currents oppose each other.
Under nonequilibrium condition, one of the
current flow mechanism is going to dominate
over the other, resulting a net current flow.
The electrons that want to diffuse from the ntype layer to the player have potential barier.
p n junction barrier height,
Vbi
The potential barrier height V
accross a pn junction is
bi
known as the built in potential and also as the junction
potential.
The potential energy that this potential barrier correspond is
qVbi
Electron energy is positive upwards in the energy level
diagrams, so electron potentials are going to be measured
positive downwards.
The hole energies and potentials are of course positive in
the opposite directions to the electrons
p n junction barrier height
ntype
Electron energy
EC
Ei
Ef
qVbi
qV p
qVn
EV
EC
Ef
Ei
EV
Depletion region
Electron potential
ptype
The p n junction barrier height
The intrinsic Fermi Level is a very useful reference level in a
semiconductor.
qV p ( Ei E f ) (1)
Vp
kT
NA
ln
q
ni
Ei E f
p ni exp
kT
(2)
Similarly for Vn
Vn
kT
ND
ln
q
ni
(3)
For full ionization, the built in voltage is a sum of
kT
N AND
Vbi Vn V p
ln
(4)
2
q
ni
p n junction in thermal equilibrium
DR
Neutral
pregion
Current Mechanisms,
Mechanisms

+++

+++

+++
Neutral
Diffusion of the carriers
cause an electric in DR.
nregion
Field Direction
Hole energuy
Electron energy
Electron Drift
Electron Diffusion
EC
Drift current is due to
the presence of electric
field in DR.
Ef
Diffusion current is due
to the majority carriers.
EV
Drift current is due to
the minority carriers.
Hole Diffussion
Hole Drift
n p junction at equilibrium
DR
Neutral
+++

nregion
+++

Neutral
pregion
Electron Drift
Hole energuy
Electron energy
+++
Field Direction
Electron Diffusion
EC
Ef
EV
Hole Diffussion
Hole Drift
Difusion :
When electrons and holes are diffusing from high
concentration region to the low concentration region they
both have a potential barrier. However, in drift case of
minority carriers there is no potential barrier.
Built in potential ;
kT
N AND
Vbi
ln
2
q
ni
At fixed T , Vbi is determined by the number of N A and N D atoms.
Depletion Approximation, Electric Field and
Potential for pn junction
ptype

+++

+++
At equilibrium, there is
no bias, i.e. no applied
voltage.
ntype

+++
area Vbi

Electric field
Charge density
+++
xn
xp
Depletion
the
the
The sign of the electric
field is opposite to that
of the potential ;
Em
qVbi
Potential
The field takes
same
sign
as
charge
dVn
Ev
dx
Depletion Approximation, Electric Field and
Potential for pn junction
Charge density is negative on pside and positive on nside.
As seen from the previous diagram, the charge distribution
is very nice and abrupt changes occur at the depletion
region (DR) edges. Such a junction is called as an abrupt
junction since the doping abruptly changes from p to ntype at the metallurgical junction (ideal case).
xn the width of the DR on nside
x p the width of the DR on pside
Depletion Approximation, Electric Field and
Potential for pn junction
In reality, the charge distribution tailsoff into the
neutral regions, i.e. the charge distrubition is not
abrupt if one goes from depletion region into the
neutral region. This region is called as a transition
region and since the transition region is very thin,
one can ignore the tailoff region and consider
the change being abrupt. So this approximation
is called as DEPLETION APPROXIMATION.
Depletion Approximation, Electric Field and
Potential for pn junction
Electric Field Diagram :
The electric field is zero at the edge of the DR and
increases in negative direction. At junction charge changes
its sign so do electric field and the magnitude of the field
decreases (it increases positively).
Potential Diagram :
Since the electric field is negative through the whole
depletion region ,DR, the potential will be positive through
the DR. The potential increases slowly at left hand side but
it increases rapidly on the right hand side. So the rate of
increase of the potential is different an both sides of the
metallurgical junction. This is due to the change of sign of
charge at the junction.
Depletion Approximation, Electric Field and
Potential for np junction
+++

+++

ptype
+++
+++
Em
x

Electric field
Charge density
ntype
Field direction is positive x direction
area Vbi
x
Potential
Depletion
Field direction
Abrupt junction
Charge density
ptype

+++

+++
ntype
+++

xp
+++
N A x p N D xn
Depletion
Region
The amount of uncovered
negative charge on the left hand
side of the junction must be
equal to the amount of positive
charge on the right hand side of
the
metalurgical
junction.
Overall spacecharge neutrality
condition;
xn
The higher doped side of the junction
has the narrower depletion width
when N A N D xn x p
Abrupt junction
xn and xp is the width of the depletion layer on the nside
and pside of the junction, respectively.
When N D N A (unequal impurity concentrations)
and
x p xn , W x p
Unequal impurity concentration results an unequal depletion
layer widths by means of the charge neutrality condition;
N A . x p N D . xn
W = total depletion
region
Abrupt junction
When N A N D xn x p
W xn
Depletion layer widths for nside and pside
1
xn
ND
2 SiVbi N A N D
q( N A N D )
1
xp
NA
2 SiVbi N A N D
q( N A N D )
Abrupt junction
For equal doping densities W xn x p
Total depletion layer width , W
1
1
W (
)
NA
ND
2 SiVbi N A N D
q( N A N D )
2 SiVbi ( N A N D )
qN A N D
Abrupt junction
Si o r
o permittivity of vacuum 8.85 x10 12 F/m
r relative permittivity of Silicon 11.9
xn , x p and W depends on N A , N D and Vbi
kT N A N D
Vbi
ln
2
q
ni
OneSided abrupt pn junction
heavily doped ptype

ptype
+++
+++
+++
+++
+++
+++

ntype
N A N D
Depletion
Region
Abrupt pn junction
xp
xn
x p can be neglected
OneSided abrupt pn junction
1
W xn
ND
2 SiVbi N A N D
1
q N A ND ND
2 SiVbi N A N D
qN A
neglegted
since NA>>ND
2 SiVbi
qN D
obtain a similar equation for W x p
in the case of N D N A
Onesided abrupt junction
OneSided abrupt pn junction
+++
+++
Charge density
ptype
x direction
ntype
Electric field
+++

area Vbi
Electric field
+++
Em
Potential
qVbi
x
xn
xp
Appliying bias to pn junction
forward bias
reverse bias
How current flows through the pn
junction when a bias (voltage) is
applied.
The current flows all the time whenever
a voltage source is connected to the
diode. But the current flows rapidly in
forward bias, however a very small
constant current flows in reverse bias
case.
Appliying bias to pn junction
I(current)
Reverse Bias
Vb
I0
Forward Bias
V(voltage)
Vb ; Breakdown voltage
I0 ; Reverse saturation current
There is no turnon voltage because current flows in any
case. However , the turnon voltage can be defined as the
forward bias required to produce a given amount of forward
current.
If 1 m A is required for the circuit to work, 0.7 volt can be
called as turnon voltage.
Appliying bias to pn junction
Zero Bias
Ec
 ++ n
 ++
qVbi
Ec
Ev
 +
 +
Vbi
Reverse Bias
+
p n
qVbi VF
Potential Energy
Ev
Forward Bias
+

++
++
Ec
Ev
q Vbi Vr
Vbi VR
Vbi VF
Appliying bias to pn junction
VF forward voltage
VR reverse voltage
When a voltage is applied to a diode , bands move
and the behaviour of the bands with applied
forward and reverse fields are shown in previous
diagram.
Forward Bias
Junction potential reduced
Enhanced hole diffusion from pside to nside compared
with the equilibrium case.
Enhanced electron diffusion from nside to pside compared
with the equilibrium case.
Drift current flow is similar to the equilibrium case.
Overall, a large diffusion current is able to flow.
Mnemonic. Connect positive terminal to pside for forward
bias.
Drift current is very similar to that of the equilibrium case.
This current is due to the minority carriers on each side of
the junction and the movement minority carriers is due to
the built in field accross the depletion region.
Reverse Bias
Junction potential increased
Reduced hole diffusion from pside to nside compared with
the equilibrium case.
Reduced electron diffusion from nside to pside compared
with the equilibrium case
Drift current flow is similar to the equilibrium case.
Overall a very small reverse saturation current flows.
Mnemonic. Connect positive terminal to nside for reverse
bias.
Qualitative explanation of forward bias
Carrier Density
 +
 +
n
pn
np
pno
npo
pn junction in forward bias
Junction potential is reduced
from Vbi to VbiVF.
By forward biasing a large
number
of
electrons
are
injected from nside to pside
accross the depletion region
and these electrons become
minority carriers on pside, and
the minority recombine with
majority holes so that the
number of injected minority
electrons decreases (decays)
exponentially with distance
into the pside.
Qualitative explanation of forward bias
Similarly, by forward biasing a large number of
holes are injected from pside to nside across
the DR. These holes become minority carriers at
the depletion region edge at the nside so that
their number (number of injected excess holes)
decreases with distance into the neutral nside.
In summary, by forward biasing in fact one
injects minority carriers to the opposite sides.
These
injected
minorites
recombine
with
majorities.
Qualitative explanation of forward bias
How does current flow occur if all the injected
minorities recombine with majorities ?
If there is no carrier; no current flow occurs.
Consider the role of ohmic contacts at both ends
of pn junction.
The lost majority carriers are replaced by the
majority carriers coming in from ohmic contacts
to maintain the charge neutrality.
The sum of the hole and electron currents flowing
through the ohmic contacts makes up the total
current flowing through the external circuit.
Ideal diode equation
o subscript denotes the equilibrium carrier
concentration.
nno equilibrium electron concentration in n  type material.
n po equilibrium electron concentration in p  type material.
p po equilibrium hole concentration in p  type material.
pno equilibrium hole concentration in n  type material.
n. p n
2
i
Ideal diode equation
n. p n
2
i
At equilibrium case ( no bias )
nno . pno n n type material
(1)
n po . p po n p type material
(2)
2
i
2
i
Ideal diode equation
kT N A N D
Vbi
ln
q
ni2
assuming full ionization
N A p po ; N D nno majority carriers
kT p po .nno
Vbi
ln
q
ni2
nno . pno ni2 for ntype
kT p po
qVbi
Vbi
ln
p po pno exp
q
pno
kT
(3)
Ideal diode equation
Similarly, from equation (2)
kT p po .nno
Vbi
ln
2
q
ni
n po . p po n
2
i
kT nno
qVbi
Vbi
ln
nno n po exp
q n po
kT
(4)
This equation gives us the equilibrium majority carrier concentration.
Ideal diode equation
What happens when a voltage appears across the pn junction ?
Equations (3) and (4) still valid but you should drop (0)
subscript and change Vbi with
i.
ii.
Vbi VF if a forward bias is applied.
Vbi + VR if a reverse bias is applied.
VF : forward voltage
VR : reverse voltage
With these biases, the carrier densities change from equilibrium
carrier densities to non equilibrium carrier densities.
Ideal diode equation
Nonequilibrium majority carrier concentration in forward
bias;
pp
q (Vbi VF )
pn exp
kT
For example; nn for reverse bias
q (Vbi VR )
nn n p exp
kT
When a voltage is applied; the equilibrium nno changes to
the non equilibrium nn.
Assumption; low level injection
For low level injection; the number of injected minorities is
much less than the number of the majorities. That is the
injected minority carriers do not upset the majority carrier
equilibrium densities.
nn nno
p p p po
Non equilibrium electron concentration in ntype when a
forward bias is applied ,
q (Vbi VF )
nn n p exp
nonequilibrium.
kT
Ideal diode equation
nn nno
q (Vbi VF )
nno n p
(5)
kT
qVbi
nno n po exp
kT
(6)
combining (5) and (6)
q (Vbi VF )
qV bi
n p exp
n po exp
kT
kT
Ideal diode equation
Solving for nonequilibrium electron concentration in ptype
material, i.e. np
qVF
n p n po exp
and subtracting n po from both sides
kT
qV
n p n po n po exp
1 n
kT
n the excess concentration of minority electrons
over the equilibrium concentration at the edge of the DR
Ideal diode equation
Similarly ,
qV
pn pno pno exp
1 p the nonequilibrium
kT
p the excess concentration of minority holes
over the equilibrium concentration at the edge of the DR
Forwardbias diode; injection of minority carriers across DR
point A n p n po
point B pn pno
 +
 +
l p is the distance from DR edge into pside
ln is the distance from DR edge into nside
ppo
nno
B
A
pno
npo
lp
ln
When a forward bias is applied; majority
carriers are injected across DR and
appear as a minority carrier at the edge
of DR on opposite side. These minorities
will diffuse in field free oppositeregion
towards ohmic contact. Since ohmic
contact is a long way away, minority
carriers
decay
exponentially
with
distance in this region until it reaches to
its equilibrium value.
Exponential decay of injected minority carriers on opposite
sides
The excess injected minorities decay exponentially as
p (l p ) n(0) exp
l p
Ln
ln
n(ln ) p (0) exp
L
p
Ln and L p are diffusion lengths
for electrons and holes
Number of Injected Minority Holes Across The Depletion Region
By means of forwardbiasing a pn junction diode,
the holes diffuse from left to right accross the DR
and they become minority carriers.
These holes recombine with majority electrons
when they are moving towards ohmic constants.
So, the number of minority holes on the nregion
decreases exponentially towards the ohmic
contact. The number of injected minority
holes;excess holes;
ln
p (ln ) p (0) exp( )
Lp
Distance into then region
from the Depletion Region
Diffusion Length for
holes
Number of Injected Minority Holes Across The Depletion Region
point A n p n po
n(l p ) n(0)exp(
lp
Ln
qV
n(0) n po exp( ) 1
kT
qV
p (0) pno exp
1
kT
Ideal diode equation
Similarly by means of
forward biasing a pn
junction,
the
majority
electrons are injected from
right to left across the
Depletion Region. These
injected electrons become
minorities at the Depletion
Region edge on the pside,
and they recombine with
the majority holes. When
they move into the neutral
pside, the number of
injected excess electrons
decreases exponentially.
n (l p ) n (0) exp(
lp
Ln
lp
qV
n (l p ) n po exp( ) 1 exp( )
kT
Ln
Ideal diode equation
Diffusion current density for electrons ;
Dn n po
dn
d
qV
J n qDn qDn n(l p ) q
exp
dx
dx
Ln
kT
l p
1 exp
Ln
qDn n po
qV
J n ( l p 0)
exp 1 Minus sign shows that electron current
Ln
kT
density is in opposite direction to increasing l p .That is in the positive x direction.
Similarly for holes;
dp qD p pno
J p (ln 0) qD p
dx
Lp
qV
exp kT 1
The total current density;
J Total J n J p q
Dn n po
Ln
D p pno
qV
exp
1
Lp
kT
Ideal diode equation
Dn n po
J Total q
Ln
D p pno
qV
qV
exp
1 J o exp
1
L p
kT
kT
multiplying by area ;
qV
I I o exp
1
kT
Ideal diode equation
This equation is valid for both forward and reverse biases; just change the
sign of V.
Ideal diode equation
Change V with V for reverse bias. When qV>a few kT;
exponential term goes to zero as
qV
I I o exp
1
kT
I Io
Reverse saturation current
Current
Forward Bias
VB
I0
Voltage
VB ; Breakdown voltage
Reverse Bias
I0 ; Reverse saturation current
Forward bias current densities
+
Current density
Ohmic contact
J total J n J p
Jn
Jp
lp=0
ln=0
Jtotal is constant through the
whole diode.
Minority
current
densities
decreases exponentially into
the the neutral sides whereas
the current densities due to
the majorities increase into the
neutral sides.
pn junction in reverse bias

Carrier density
npo
pno
pn
Current density
np
J total J n J p
Jn
Jp
lp=0
ln=0
Depletion region gets bigger with
increasing reverse bias.
Reverse bias prevents large
diffusion current to flow through
the diode.
However; reverse bias doesnt
prevent the small current flow
due to the minority carrier. The
presence of large electric field
across the DR extracts almost all
the minority holes from the nregion and minority electrons
from the pregion.
This flow of minority carriers
across the junction constitudes I0,
the reverse saturation current.
These minorities are generated
thermally.
pn junction in reverse bias
The flow of these minorities produces the reverse
saturation
current
and
this
current
increases
exponentially with temperature but it is independent of
applied reverse voltage.
I(current)
Forward Bias
Vb
I0
V(voltage)
VB ; Breakdown voltage
I0 ; Reverse saturation current
Reverse Bias
Drift current
Junction breakdown or reverse breakdown
An applied reverse bias (voltage) will result in a small
current to flow through the device.
At a particular high voltage value, which is called as
breakdown voltage VB, large currents start to flow. If there
is no current limiting resistor which is connected in series
to the diode, the diode will be destroyed. There are two
physical effects which cause this breakdown.
1)
Zener breakdown is observed in highly doped pn
junctions and occurs for voltages of about 5 V or less.
2)
Avalanche breakdown is observed in less highly doped
pn junctions.
Zener breakdown
Zener breakdown occurs at highly doped pn
junctions with a tunneling mechanism.
In a highly doped pn junction the conduction
and valance bands on opposite side of the
junction become so close during the reversebias
that the electrons on the pside can tunnel from
directly VB into the CB on the nside.
Avalanche Breakdown
Avalanche breakdown mechanism occurs when
electrons and holes moving through the DR and
acquire sufficient energy from the electric field
to break a bond i.e. create electronhole pairs by
colliding with atomic electrons within the
depletion region.
The newly created electrons and holes move in
opposite directions due to the electric field and
thereby add to the existing reverse bias current.
This is the most important breakdown
mechanism in pn junction.
Depletion Capacitance
When a reverse bias is applied to pn junction diode, the
depletion region width, W, increases. This cause an increase
in the number of the uncovered space charge in depletion
region.
Whereas when a forward bias is applied depletion region
width of the pn junction diode decreases so the amount of
the uncovered space charge decreases as well.
So the pn junction diode behaves as a device in which the
amount of charge in depletion region depends on the
voltage across the device. So it looks like a capacitor with a
capacitance.
Depletion Capacitance
Capacitance
in farads
Q
C
V
Charge stored in
coloumbs
Voltage across the
capacitor in volts
Capacitance of a diode varies with W (Depletion Region width)
W (DR width varies width applied voltage V )
Depletion Capacitance
Capacitance per unit area of a diode ;
F
CDEP Si
W cm 2
For onesided abrupt junction; e.g. N A N D xn W xn
N A x p N D xn
C DEP
Si
W
Si
xn
2 SiVbi
qN D
xn
for N A N D
The application of reverse bias ;
C DEP
Si
2 Si (Vbi VR )
qN D
q Si N D
2(Vbi VR )
Depletion Capacitance
If one makes C  V measurements and draw 1/C 2
against the voltage VR ; obtain builtin voltage and
doping density of lowdoped side of the diode from
the intercept and slope.
2(Vbi VR )
1
2
C
q Si N D
2
slope
q Si N D
kT
N AND
Vbi
ln(
)
2
q
ni
Depletion Capacitance