Semiconductor Glossary, Developed Semi OneSource.
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Term (Index) Definition
semiconductor  solid-state material in which, in contrast to metals and insulators: (i) electrical conductivity can be controlled by orders of magnitude by adding small amounts of alien elements known as dopants, (ii) electrical conductivity can be controlled not only by negatively charged electrons, but also by positively charged holes, (iii) electrical conductivity is sensitive to temperature, illumination, electric and magnetic fields, and (iv) can relaease energy resulting from the inter-level electronic transitions in the form visible radiation. Semiconductor properties are displayed by the elements from the IVth group of periodic table: carbon, (C), silicon (Si), germanium (Ge), and tin (Sn); compound semiconductors can be formed by combining elements from IVth group (IV-IV), e.g. SiGe and SiC, as well as from groups III and V (III-V) compounds,e.g. GaAs, InP, or GaN, and groups II and VI (II-VI compounds, e.g. CdTe, ZnS, etc. Furthermore, select organic materials display semiconductor properties.
Term (Index) Definition
ambipolar semiconductor  a material which does not display either n-type, or p-type conductivity.
polar semiconductor  doped semiconductor featuring distinct conductivity type: n, or p.
Term (Index) Definition
binary semiconductor  semiconductor compound consisting of two elements; e.g. SiC, GaAs, CdS.
elemental semiconductor  single element semiconductor; element from the group IV of periodic table: Si, Ge, C, Sn.
ternary semiconductor  semiconductor compound consisting of three elements; e.g. AlGaAs, CdHgTe.
Term (Index) Definition
compensated semiconductor  semiconductor which contains donor and acceptor dopant atoms in the same region; in n-type compensated semiconductor ND>NA; in p-type NA>ND.
Term (Index) Definition
compound semiconductor  semiconductor formed using two or more elements; compound semiconductors do not appear in nature; they are synthesized using elements from groups II through VI of the periodic table, e.g. from group III and V (III-V compounds) or II and VI (II-VI compounds).
elemental semiconductor  single element semiconductor; element from the group IV of periodic table: Si, Ge, C, Sn.
Term (Index) Definition
degenerate semiconductor  semiconductor that is so heavily doped that its Fermi level is closer to one of the band edges (either conduction or valance) than 2 kT/q; properties of degenerate semiconductors must be described using the Fermi-Dirac statistics instead of Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics.
Term (Index) Definition
direct bandgap semiconductor  semiconductor in which the bottom of the conduction band and the top of the valence band occur at the momentum k=0;in the case of d.b.s. energy released during band-to-band electron recombination with a hole is converted primarily into radiation (radiant recombination); wavelength of emitted radiation is determined by the energy gap of semiconductor; examples of d.b.s. GaAs, InP, etc.
indirect bandgap semiconductor  semiconductor in which bottom of the conduction band does not occur at effective momentum k=0, i.e. is shifted with respect to the top of the valence band which occurs at k=0; energy released during electron recombination with a hole is converted primarily into phonon; e.g. Si, Ge, GaP.
Term (Index) Definition
elemental semiconductor  single element semiconductor; element from the group IV of periodic table: Si, Ge, C, Sn.
AIII-BV, III-V, semiconductors  III-V semiconductors are synthesized using elements from 3rd and 5th group of periodic table; e.g. GaAs, GaP, GaN, GaAlAs, InP, InSb, etc.

Reference: SemiconductorPeriodicTable
AII-BVI, II-VI, semiconductors  II-VI semiconductors are synthesized using elements from 2nd and 6th group of periodic table;e.g., CdSe, CdTe, CdHgTe, ZnS.

Reference: SemiconductorPeriodicTable
compound semiconductor  semiconductor formed using two or more elements; compound semiconductors do not appear in nature; they are synthesized using elements from groups II through VI of the periodic table, e.g. from group III and V (III-V compounds) or II and VI (II-VI compounds).
organic semiconductor  a class of solids displaying semiconductor properties based entirely on organic components; low-cost semiconductors formed as a thin film on any substrate (including flexible substrates); maintain fundamental characteristics even when significantly bent; by nature much more resistive (in the range of 1014 ohm-cm, i.e. almost insulators) than inorganic semiconductors; two key types of o.s.: (i)small-molecule o.s. and (ii)long-chain polymeric o.s.; o.s. have a potential of expanding applications of semiconductors into new areas, particularly in display technology (flexible displays).

Reference: See Semiconductor Notes for more information
AIV-BIV, IV-IV, semiconductors  in IV-IV semiconductors both elements are from the 4th group of periodic table (e.g. SiC, SiGe).

Reference: SemiconductorPeriodicTable
Term (Index) Definition
extrinsic semiconductor  doped semiconductor featuring either p- or n-type conductivity.
intrinsic semiconductor  undoped semiconductor material, i.e. semiconductor which does not display either n- or p-type conductivity; free electrons and holes result only from band-to-band generation, and hence, feature the same concentration (n=p).
Term (Index) Definition
indirect bandgap semiconductor  semiconductor in which bottom of the conduction band does not occur at effective momentum k=0, i.e. is shifted with respect to the top of the valence band which occurs at k=0; energy released during electron recombination with a hole is converted primarily into phonon; e.g. Si, Ge, GaP.
direct bandgap semiconductor  semiconductor in which the bottom of the conduction band and the top of the valence band occur at the momentum k=0;in the case of d.b.s. energy released during band-to-band electron recombination with a hole is converted primarily into radiation (radiant recombination); wavelength of emitted radiation is determined by the energy gap of semiconductor; examples of d.b.s. GaAs, InP, etc.
Term (Index) Definition
intrinsic semiconductor  undoped semiconductor material, i.e. semiconductor which does not display either n- or p-type conductivity; free electrons and holes result only from band-to-band generation, and hence, feature the same concentration (n=p).
extrinsic semiconductor  doped semiconductor featuring either p- or n-type conductivity.
Term (Index) Definition
lighting, semiconductor lighting,  instead of using for illumination purposes the energy consuming and inefficient conventional incadescent (hot filament) or fluorescen bulbs (gas-discharge)the low-energy, high efficiency semiconductor LEDs (OLEDs for instance) are used.
LED, Light Emitting Diode  semiconductor device emitting light; two-terminal rectifying device made using direct bandgap semiconductor; energy generated during recombination processes in the space charge region of the junction (typically p-n) is released in the form of light; wavelength of emitted radiation depends on the width of the bandgap.
organic LED, OLED  Organic Light Emitting Diode; mechanism of light emission is different than in conventional LEDs; in OLEDs radiation is emitted as a result of electron-hole interactions in the thin film organic semiconductor leading to the formation of exciton; de-excitatipon of excitons results in photon emission.
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.
Term (Index) Definition
n-type semiconductor  semiconductor in which concentration of electrons is much higher then concentration of holes; electrons are majority carriers and dominate conductivity.
p-type semiconductor  semiconductor in which concentration of holes is much higher then concentration of electrons (n>>p); holes are majority carriers and dominate conductivity.
Term (Index) Definition
organic semiconductor  a class of solids displaying semiconductor properties based entirely on organic components; low-cost semiconductors formed as a thin film on any substrate (including flexible substrates); maintain fundamental characteristics even when significantly bent; by nature much more resistive (in the range of 1014 ohm-cm, i.e. almost insulators) than inorganic semiconductors; two key types of o.s.: (i)small-molecule o.s. and (ii)long-chain polymeric o.s.; o.s. have a potential of expanding applications of semiconductors into new areas, particularly in display technology (flexible displays).

Reference: See Semiconductor Notes for more information
pentacene  organic compound displaying semiconductor properties; represents "small-molecule" class of organic semiconductors; deposited by vacuum evaporation may feature electron mobility of about 2 cm2/V-sec which is higher than electron mobility in amorphous silicon; not sufficiently stable yet as a function of time.
regioregular polythiophene  organic compound displaying semiconductor properties.
plastic ICs  integrated circuits and devices fabricated using thin-film organic semiconductors.
Term (Index) Definition
polar semiconductor  doped semiconductor featuring distinct conductivity type: n, or p.
ambipolar semiconductor  a material which does not display either n-type, or p-type conductivity.
Term (Index) Definition
p-type semiconductor  semiconductor in which concentration of holes is much higher then concentration of electrons (n>>p); holes are majority carriers and dominate conductivity.
intrinsic semiconductor  undoped semiconductor material, i.e. semiconductor which does not display either n- or p-type conductivity; free electrons and holes result only from band-to-band generation, and hence, feature the same concentration (n=p).
n-type semiconductor  semiconductor in which concentration of electrons is much higher then concentration of holes; electrons are majority carriers and dominate conductivity.
Term (Index) Definition
semiconductor device  vert braod term; essentially any homogenous or multilayer piece of semiconductor material which is processed in such way that it can perform in the controlled fashion predetermined electronic (e.g. diode, transistor, monolithic integrated circuit) or photonic (e.g. LED, laser) function.
diode  in general, a two-terminal element displaying asymmetric (rectifying) current-voltage characteristics; large current flows under the forward bias, very small current flows under the reverse bias; realized either as a vacuum diode or semiconductor diode; semiconductor diode requires built-in potential barrier heights of which depends on the applied voltage (bias); potential barrier at the p-n junction makes a p-n junction diode while potential barrier at the metal-semiconductor junction makes a Schottky diode.
transistor  three-terminal semiconductor device in which input signal (voltage or current depending on the type of transistor) controls output current; the most important semiconductor device; performs switching and amplifying functions; early on replaced bulky and inefficient vacuum triode in electronic circuits; invention of transistor (Schockley, Brattain and Bardeen, 1947) triggered electronic revolution after the World Word II; can operate as a discrete device or a building cell of integrated circuits; numerous kinds of transistors can be distinguished based on their design and principles of operation; there are two types of transistors: unipolar (field-effect transistor, or FET) and bipolar.

Reference: See history of transistor
Term (Index) Definition
semiconductor diode  two-terminal semiconductor device which displays strongly rectifying current-voltage characteristics (large current flows under forward voltage bias while almost no current flows under the reverse voltage bias); to obtain this type of behavior a potential barrier must be created within the device structure; typically implemented by p-n junction, or metal-semiconductor contact.
Term (Index) Definition
semiconductor laser  light emitting semiconductor device which in contrast to simple light emitting diode (LED) generates very sharp emission lines and allows modulation bandwidth in a gigahertz range; semiconductor laser is a complex multilayer device formed using direct-bandgap semiconductors primarily AIII-BV; its high performance is due to the enhancement of the recombination rate (stimulated emission) and presence of optical cavity in the device structure.
LASER, laser  Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation; laser is the most common source of coherent, monochromatic radiation.
Term (Index) Definition
semi-insulating semiconductor  semiconductor featuring very high resistivity; only undoped semiconductors with very low intrinsic carrier concentration (relatively wide energy gap) can display semi-insulating characteristics; e.g. GaAs with intrinsic carrier concentration ~106 cm-3 can be semi-insulating while Si with an intrinsic carrier concentration of ~1010 cm-3 cannot; semi-insulating semiconductors allow better electrical isolation between adjacent devices.
intrinsic semiconductor  undoped semiconductor material, i.e. semiconductor which does not display either n- or p-type conductivity; free electrons and holes result only from band-to-band generation, and hence, feature the same concentration (n=p).
Term (Index) Definition
ternary semiconductor  semiconductor compound consisting of three elements; e.g. AlGaAs, CdHgTe.
Term (Index) Definition
wide bandgap semiconductor  semiconductor featuring energy gap Eg > 2.5 eV (rather arbitrary criterion), useful in high temperature applications and emission of blue radiation (should feature direct bandgap at the same time); e.g. SiC (Eg = 2.9 eV), GaN (Eg = 3.5 eV), ZnS (Eg = 3.68 eV)
gallium nitride, GaN  wide bandgap III-V semiconductor featuring direct bandgap 3.5 eV wide; among very few semiconductors capable of generating blue radiation; number one candidate for blue LEDs and lasers; see "GaN note" on www.semiconductornotes.com for more information.

Reference: See Semiconductor Notes for more information on GaN
silicon carbide, SiC  semiconductor featuring energy gap Eg = 2.9 -3.05 eV (wide bandgap semiconductor), indirect bandgap; SiC can be obtained in several polytypes- most common hexagonal in the form of either 4H or 6H polytypes; parameters vary depending on polytype; higher than Si and GaAs electron saturation velocity; carrier mobility: electrons 100-500 cm2/Vs, holes 20 cm2/Vs; thermal conductivity 3 W/cmK (two times higher than Si); excellent semiconductor, however, difficult and expensive to fabricate in the form of single-crystal wafers; best suited for high power, high temperature devices; also limited use in photonic devices (e.g. substrate for GaN).

Reference: SemiOneSource,Notes
Zinc sulfide, ZnS  II-VI semiconductor, has a largest bandgap among semiconductors considered for practical applications (Eg = 3.68 eV) which in conjunctions with a bandgap being direct makes ZnS potentially attractive as a blue light emitter.
diamond  single-crystal carbon; material featuring outstanding semiconductor properties; wide bandgap semiconductor; in theory the best semiconductor, in practice very difficult to form in shapes and quantities compatible with manufacturing of semiconductor devices; also, restrictions on p-n junction formation due to the lack of adequate dopants.

Reference: More information on semiconductor materials
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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.