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Sunday, May 17, 2020

#432 What is a semiconductor?

Broadly circulating definition of semiconductors stating that semiconductors are materials featuring electrical conductivity between insulators, for instance glass, and conductors, most commonly metals, does not adequately capture the essence of what is a semiconductor.


The essence is that under the normal conditions there is nothing that can be done to make copper more electrically conductive and glass less electrically conductive. In contrast, semiconductors are the solids which lend themselves to the manipulation of their electrical conductivity by orders of magnitude by altering their chemical composition. Also, in contrast to typical conductors and insulators, illumination with light featuring appropriate wavelength changes electrical conductivity of semiconductors. Furthermore, temperature may alter electrical conductivity of semiconductors to the extent not posible in the case of insulators and conductors (with an exception of extremely low temperatures at which some originally low-conductivity materials assume characteristics of superconductors).  


As a result, a vast array of extremely important in our lives devices (diodes, transistors, integrated circuits, LEDs, lasers, light and heat detectors, image sensors, broad range of other sensors, solar cells…..) function only because of the unique characteristics of semiconductors.

Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 12:44 PM | Semiconductors | Link is a personal blog of Jerzy Ruzyllo. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Penn State University. With over forty years' experience in academic research and teaching in semiconductor engineering he has a unique perspective on the developments in this technical domain and enjoys blogging about it.

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.

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


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