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Term (Index) Definition
Zener tunneling  see Zener effect.
tunneling, tunneling current  transport of electron across the potential barrier without changing its energy; as opposed to electron transport "over" the barrier (thermionic emission) in which case its energy is must be changed; tunneling probability is a strong function of the width ofpotential barrier; examples: tunneling across the potential barrier at the metal-semiconductor contact, or across the potential barrier at the p-n junction, or across an oxide (direct tunneling for oxide thinner than about 3 nm, Fowler-Nordheim tunneling for oxide 5-10 nm thick) in MOS structure.
Zener effect  occurs in heavily doped p-n junctions at high reverse-bias voltage; energy bands in the junction region are sloped in such way that electron may tunnel directly from the valence band in n-type region to the conduction band in p-type region causing rapid increase of curreent; may cause breakdown of p-n junction but also can be used in a controlled fashion to make a functional device (Zener diode).
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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.