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Sunday, October 4, 2020

#448 More on semiconductor material choices

Few more comments to conclude a brief overview of criteria guiding selection of semiconductor materials suitable for specific device applications (see entries #445 and #446). In addition to those to which a number can be assigned (e.g. width of the energy gap in eV, electron mobility in cm2/Vs, etc.) there are others, often equally important, which escape numerical classification.


Radiation hardness is one among them. We don’t want threshold voltage of the millions of transistors comprising an integrated circuit to be altered as a result of circuit’s exposure to high energy radiation (electronics in the proximity of nuclear reactor, exposure to nuclear explosion, cosmic rays, gamma rays, X-rays…) 


In addition, manufacturability related characteristics of any given semiconductor material are coming to play. Is the material thermally stable enough to allow elevated temperature processes during device manufacturing? Is it mechanically sturdy enough to allow robotic handling during device manufacturing? On the other end of the spectrum, is semiconductor material flexible enough to be compatible with flexible electronics and photonics?


Last, but certainly not least is the cost of semiconductor material and device fabrication processes which need to be weighed against the range of applications of commercial devices manufactured and expected profits.  


As you see the list of criteria is long, and expectations high. The good news is that if you will ever have a problem finding ideal semiconductor for your application, you can always count on silicon as there is a very good chance it will do a trick, may be not perfectly, but it will (ok, granted, as long as temperature at which device is expected to operate will not exceed some 150oC...)


Posted by Jerzy Ruzyllo at 08:50 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.

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