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With over 2000 terms defined and explained, Semiconductor Glossary is the most complete reference in the field of semiconductors on the market today.


Including some 500 new terms defined and remaining terms updated and modified, a 2nd edition book version of this glossary is now available.

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Term (Index) Definition
metal  material, most commonly solid, featuring very high electrical conductivity; in metals atoms are held together by the force of metallic bond; in the energy band structure of metals conduction and valence bands overlap, and hence, there is no energy gap; upper most energy band only partially filled with electrons; electrons can move around almost freely under the applied voltage.
aluminum, conductor, Al  common metal in semiconductor processing; used for contacts and interconnects; very low resistivity (2.7 ohm-cm); melting point 660 oC; easy deposition by evaporation or sputtering; easy etching; shortcomings: electromigration, spiking of silicon, insufficient temperature resistance.
copper, Cu  (i) metal of choice for interconnects in advanced ICs; resistivity the lowest among metals - 1.7 µohm-cm; advantages over aluminum: no electromigration and lower resistivity; (ii) defect causing contaminant if allowed to penetrate silicon; very fast diffusant in silicon; results in reduced lifetime of minority carriers.
interconnect  conductor (typically metal) line connecting elements of an integrated circuit; in very high density integrated circuits interconnect lines form multilevel network; in advanced silicon ICs interconnect lines as are made out of copper.
ohmic contact  metal-semiconductor contact with very low resistance independent of applied voltage (may be represented by constant resistance); to form an "ohmic" contact metal and semiconductor must be selected such that there is no potential barrier formed at the interface (or potential barrier is so thin that charge carriers can readily tunnel through it).
Term (Index) Definition
barrier metal  thin layer of metal, e.g. TiN, sandwiched between other metal and semiconductor (or insulator) to prevent potentially harmful interactions between these two, e.g. spiking.
titanium nitride, TiN  "tinitride"; conductor (resistivity 30-70 microohm-cm) used in silicon technology as a barrier separating silicon and metal contact; also as a metal gate contact in high-k dielectric MOS gate stacks; high melting point (2950 oC); deposited by LPCVD.
Term (Index) Definition
metal MOS gate  for many years metals were not used as gate contact material in MOS/CMOS devices; instead, conducting poly-Si is used due to the work function matching work function of Si substrate (precondition for the low threshold voltage of an MOSFET); metal contacts are re-introduced to the mainstream CMOS technology at the time when high-k dielectrics are replacing SiO2 as a gate oxide in cutting edge CMOS technology(poly-Si forms an SiOx layer at the interface with gate dielectric; also Fermi level pinning may occur); different metals must be used as gate contacts in NMOS and PMOS part of the CMOS cell.
Term (Index) Definition
MOS, Metal Oxide Semiconductor  Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor; three-layer structure (typically M-SiO2-Si)in which concentration of charge carriers in semiconductor's sub-surface region is controlled by potential applied to metal contact or in other words by a field effect; MOS gate can invert sub-surface region of its semiconductor; it works only if no excessive leakage current flows across the oxide; core of the MOS Field Effect Transistors, and hence, CMOS. Also, imaging Charge Coupled Devices (CCD) are based on MOS capacitor structure.
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Jerzy Ruzyllo is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Penn State University.

This book gives a complete account of semiconductor engineering covering semiconductor properties, semiconductor materials, semiconductor devices and their uses, process technology, fabrication processes, and semiconductor materials and process characterization.

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Created and operated by J. Ruzyllo. Copyright © J. Ruzyllo 2001-2016. All rights reserved.

Information in this glossary is provided at the author's discretion. Any liability based on, or related to the contents of this glossary is disclaimed.