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Comparison of Silicon and Germanium

Comparison of Silicon and Germanium

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Published by: patrick_carballo on Nov 09, 2010
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COMPARISON of Silicon and Germanium
Solid state electronics arises from the unique properties of silicon and germanium, each of which has four valenceelectrons and which form crystal lattices in which substituted atoms (dopants) can dramatically change the electricalproperties
n solid state electronics, either pure silicon or germanium may be used as the intrinsicsemiconductorwhich forms the starting point for fabrication. Each has four valence electrons, butgermanium will at a given temperature have more free electrons and a higher conductivity. Siliconis by far the more widely used semiconductor for electronics, partly because it can be used atmuch higher temperatures than germanium.
) is the most common metalloid.
t is a chemical element, which has thesymbol
and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, silicon is less reactive than its chemicalanalog carbon.
t is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but silicon veryrarely occurs as the pure free element in nature. Silicon is more widely distributed in dusts,planetoids and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates.
n Earth's crust,silicon is the second most abundant element after oxygen, making up 25.7% of the crust bymass.
 Silicon has many industrial uses.
t is the principal component of most semiconductor devices,most importantly integrated circuits or 
. Silicon is widely used in semiconductorsbecause it remains a semiconductor at higher temperatures than thesemiconductorgermanium and because its native oxide is easily grown in a furnace and forms abetter semiconductor/dielectric interface than any other material.
n the form of silica and silicates, silicon forms useful glasses, cements, and ceramics.
t is also aconstituent of silicones, a class-name for various synthetic plastic substances made of silicon,oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, often confused with silicon itself.Silicon is an essential element in biology, although only tiny traces of it appear to be required byanimals.
t is much more important to the metabolism of plants, particularly many grasses,and silicic acid (a type of silica) forms the basis of the striking array of protective shells of themicroscopic diatoms.
Silicon Crystal Structure
after KittelThe above illustration shows the arrangement of the siliconatoms in a unitcell, with the numbers indicating the height of the atom above the base of the cube as a fraction of the cell dimension.Silicon crystallizes in the same pattern as diamond, in a structure which Ashcroft and Mermin call "two interpenetratingface-centered cubic" primitive lattices. The lines between silicon atoms in the lattice illustration indicate nearest-neighbor bonds. The cube side for silicon is 0.543 nm. Germanium has the same diamond structure with a cell dimension of .566nm.
n solid state electronics, either pure silicon or germanium may be used as the intrinsicsemiconductor which forms the starting point for fabrication. Each has four valenceelectrons, but germanium will at a given temperature have more free electrons and a higher conductivity. Silicon is by far the more widely used semiconductor for electronics, partlybecause it can be used at much higher temperatures than germanium.
is a chemical element with the symbol
and atomic number 32.
t is alustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its groupneighbors tin and silicon. Germanium has five naturally occurring isotopes ranging inatomicmass number from 70 to 76.
t forms a large number of organometallic compounds,includingtetraethylgermane and isobutylgermane.Germanium was discovered comparatively late because very few minerals contain it in highconcentration. Germanium ranks near fiftieth in relative abundance of the elements in theEarth's crust.
n 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev predicted its existence and some of its propertiesbased on its position on his periodic table and called the element
. Nearly twodecades later, in 1886, Clemens Winkler found it in the mineral argyrodite. Winkler foundthat experimental observations agreed with Mendeleev's predictions and named theelement after his country, Germany.Germanium is an important semiconductor material used in transistors and various other electronic devices.
ts major end uses are fiber-optic systems and infrared optics, but it isalso used for polymerization catalysts, and in electronics and solar cell applications.
t isfinding a new use in nanowires.Germanium is mined primarily from sphalerite, though it is also recovered from silver, lead,andcopper ores. Some germanium compounds, such as germanium chloride and germane,canirritate the eyes, skin, lungs, and throat.
Silicon Lattice
Silicon atoms form covalent bonds and can crystallize into a regular lattice. Theillustration below is a simplified sketch; the actual crystal structure of silicon is adiamond lattice. This crystal is called an intrinsic semiconductor and can conduct asmall amount of current.The main point here is that a silicon atom has four electrons which it can share incovalent bonds with its neighbors. These simplified diagrams do not do justice tothe nature of that sharing since any one silicon atom will be influenced by morethan four other silicon atoms, as may be appreciated by looking at the silicon unitcell.
Why would you use silicon diodes instead of germanium diodes?
Though germanium diodes were the first ones fabricated, several factors make silicon the choice vs.germanium diodes. Silicon diodes have a greater ease of processing, lower cost, greater power handling,less leakage and more stable temperature characteristics than germanium diodes. Germanium diodes'
lower forward drop (.2V to .3V versus .7V to 1.0V) make them better at small signal detection andrectification
Why silicon type of transistors are used instead of germanium for the most of the applications?
ostly because of their cost but also because silicon transistor have faster switching properties and are farmore resistant to damage by heat. Silicon transistor also have a much wider operating band.
What are the advantages of silicon over germanium?
Silicon diodes have a greater ease of processing, lower cost, greater power handling, less leakage andmore stable temperature characteris diode is a semiconductor device which allows current to flow throughit in only one direction. Although a transistor is also a semiconductor device, it does not operate the way adiode does. A diode is specifically made to allow current to flow through it in only one direction.Some ways in which the diode can be used are listed here.A diode can be used as a rectifier that converts AC (Alternating Current) to DC (Direct Current) for apower supply device.Diodes can be used to separate the signal from radio frequencies.Diodes can be used as an on/off switch that controls current.This symbol is used to indicate a diode in a circuit diagram.The meaning of the symbol is (Anode)(Cathode).Current flows from the anode side to the cathode side.Although all diodes operate with the same general principle, there are different types suited to differentapplications. For example, the following devices are best used for the applications noted.Voltage regulation diode(Zener Diode)The circuit symbol is .It is used to regulate voltage, by taking advantage of the fact that Zener diodes tend to stabilize at acertain voltage when that voltage is applied in the opposite direction. Light emitting diodeThe circuit symbol is .This type of diode emits light when current flows through it in the forward direction. (Forward biased.)Variable capacitance diodeThe circuit symbol is .The current does not flow when applying the voltage of the opposite direction to the diode. In thiscondition, the diode has a capacitance like the capacitor. It is a very small capacitance. The capacitance of the diode changes when changing voltage. With the change of this capacitance, the frequency of theoscillator can be changed.The graph on the right shows the electrical characteristics of a typical diode.When a small voltage is applied to the diode in the forward direction, current flows easily.Because the diode has a certain amount of resistance, the voltage will drop slightly as current flowsthrough the diode. A typical diode causes a voltage drop of about 0.6 - 1V (V
) (In the case of silicondiode, almost 0.6V)This voltage drop needs to be taken into consideration in a circuit which uses many diodes in series. Also,the amount of current passing through the diodes must be considered.When voltage is applied in the reverse direction through a diode, the diode will have a great resistance tocurrent flow.Different diodes have different characteristics when reverse-biased. A given diode should be selecteddepending on how it will be used in the circuit.The current that will flow through a diode biased in the reverse direction will vary from several mA to justµA, which is very small.The limiting voltages and currents permissible must be considered on a case by case basis. For example,when using diodes for rectification, part of the time they will be required to withstand a reverse voltage. If the diodes are not chosen carefully, they will break down.tics than germanium diodes
GermaniumGermanium is very important as a semiconductor. Transistors and integrated circuits provide the greatest use of theelement; they are often made from germanium to which small amounts of arsenic, gallium, or other metals have beenadded. Numerous alloys containing germanium have been prepared. Germanium forms many compounds. Germaniumoxide is added to glass to increase the index of refraction; such glass is used in wide-angle lenses. Since the oxide istransparent to infrared radiation, it has found use in optical instruments. Germanium tetrachloride is a liquid that boils at84°C; it is an intermediate in the production of pure germanium. Other halides are known. Germane (germanium

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