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Depletion Capacitance

# Depletion Capacitance

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"This is an experiment to investigate the properties of a PN junction capacitor. The experiment investigates
the bias voltage dependent nature of the capacitance of the junction's depletion layer, and how for certain
voltage ranges, the capacitance is, on average, constant. The experimental results are also used to
calculate the unbiased junction potential."

David.R.Gilson, 1998
"This is an experiment to investigate the properties of a PN junction capacitor. The experiment investigates
the bias voltage dependent nature of the capacitance of the junction's depletion layer, and how for certain
voltage ranges, the capacitance is, on average, constant. The experimental results are also used to
calculate the unbiased junction potential."

David.R.Gilson, 1998

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02/01/2013

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Depletion CapacitancebyDavid.R.Gilson
Abstract
This is an experiment to investigate the properties of a PN junction capacitor. The experiment investigatesthe bias voltage dependent nature of the capacitance of the junction's depletion layer, and how for certainvoltage ranges, the capacitance is, on average, constant. The experimental results are also used tocalculate the unbiased junction potential.

Introduction
The invention of semiconductor PN junction devices have revolutionised modern technology. Thisexperiment looks at how they are used in electrical circuits as variable capacitors. The
depletion layer
of aPN junction is the interface of the junction, and (as the name implies) is depleted of charge carriers.Under suitable conditions this layer of the semiconductor is capable of containing electrical chargecarriers. The capacitance of the depletion layer is determined by it's size (or width) by this equation,
p
n
=
0
A
(1)Where
ε
ο
is the permittivity of free space and
ε
the relative permittivity of the semiconductor. W
d
is thecombined width of the depletion layers.This can also be shown schematically, figure one shows the a PN junction under forward and reverse biasand with no bias.
Figure 1a, an unbiased PN junction. Figure 1b, a PN junction under forward bias. Figure 1c, a PN junction under reverse bias.
Figure 1b, shows that under forward bias the width of the depletion layer decreases from it's equilibriumwidth in figure 1a. This is to be expected because, when under forward bias, the potential barrier in the junction is lowered, which allows more current to flow, which conversely lowers the amount of charge

which is stored in (the now reduced) depletion layer, and lowers the capacitance.Figure 1c, shows that when under reverse bias, the potential barrier of the junction increases, and causesthe depletion layer to increase it's width from the equilibrium width in figure 1a. This increased potential barrier stops most of the current flowing from the P side to the N side of the junction. Therefore morecharge carriers are held in the (now increased) depletion layer, hence the capacitance is increased.This is how the PN junction can be used as a variable capacitor. The bias voltage across the junctiondetermines the capacitance of the depletion layer.To relate the junction potential to the depletion layer capacitance, it is useful to define some initialrelations.If Poisson's equation (equation 2) is integrated with equation 1. Some useful results are obtained,
∇
=
x
0
(2)Where
ρ
(x) is the doping function of the semiconductor.For uniform doping density it is found that,
2
(3)and for a linearly changing doping density it is found that,
3
(4)See appendix 1 for the derivations of these.Capacitance is difficult to measure directly, so the output voltage and amplitude of the (sinusoidal) inputvoltage from a purpose built bridge device were measured. This allowed the capacitor under examinationcould be calculated by the formula,
=
OP OL
const m
c
(5)Where m
c
and
constant
are coefficients from the line,
OP OL
=
m
c
const
(6)Which is the calibration function of the bridge device.To find which of equations 3 and 4 hold for the semiconductor device in this experiment, the capacitance(equation 5) is substituted into equations 3 and 4 and are plotted as a function of bias voltage. The mostlinear of the two is taken to be the capacitance as a function of bias. Then this is extrapolated back to findthe built in junction potential. This can be done as shown, if
f(C)
is the capacitance function (whether it isthe inverse square or inverse cube), it can be written,