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drift & diffusion. → (ie) The net current that flows through a (PN junction diode) semiconductor material has two components (i) Drift current (ii) Diffusion current Drift current :-

(a) Exess hole concentration varying along the axis in an N-type semiconductor bar (b) The resulting diffusion current

n . This combined effect of movement of the charge carriers constitutes a current known as “ the drift current “ .→ When an electric field is applied across the semiconductor material. due to free electrons is given by Jn = q n μn E A / cm2 Drift current density JP. → Thus the drift current is defined as the flow of electric current due to the motion of the charge carriers under the influence of an external electric field.Number of free electrons per cubic centimeter.Number of holes per cubic centimeter μ n – Mobility of electrons in cm2 / Vs μ p – Mobility of holes in cm2 / Vs E – Applied Electric filed Intensity in V /cm q – Charge of an electron = 1. → Drift current due to the charge carriers such as free electrons and holes are the current passing through a square centimeter perpendicular to the direction of flow. which is equal to the product of the mobility of the charge carriers and the applied Electric Field intensity E . P . Drift velocity Vd = mobility of the charge carriers X Applied Electric field intensity. due to holes is given by JP = q p μp E A / cm2 Where. (i) (ii) Drift current density Jn . → Holes move towards the negative terminal of the battery and electrons move towards the positive terminal of the battery. the charge carriers attain a certain drift velocity Vd .6 x 10-19 coulomb. Diffusion current :- .

→ In a semiconductor material the change carriers have the tendency to move from the region of higher concentration to that of lower concentration of the same type of charge carriers. If we let the particles be carriers. since we are talking about a one dimensional situation when we are solving for current densities. Carrier Actions What Actions? Definitions Drift Current Diffusion Current Mobility & Scattering What causes band bending? Recombination Generation Let's Draw! Related Topics Diffusion Current Diffusion is the process of particles distributing themselves from regions of high concentration to regions of low concentration. Diffusion does not need external forces to act upon a group of particles. The difference between drift current and diffusion current is that drift current depends on the electric field applied: if there's no electric field. If this process is left unperturbed. We do worry about the gradient of the concentration of p and/or n. The particles move about using only thermal motion. a proportionality factor. so as they move around they take charge with them. there's no drift current. Thus the movement of charge carriers takes place resulting in a current called diffusion current. The moving of charge will result in a current. Diffusion current occurs even though there isn't an electric field applied to the semiconductor. We call this current due to diffusion.→ It is possible for an electric current to flow in a semiconductor even in the absence of the applied voltage provided a concentration gradient exists in the material. we only worry about the gradient (or derivative) with respect to the x-plane. there will eventually be a uniform distribution of particles. . We don't worry too much about these because they are constants. → A concentration gradient exists if the number of either elements or holes is greater in one region of a semiconductor as compared to the rest of the Region. for holes and electrons respectively. and +q and -q. It does not have E as one of its parameters. But. The first constants are called the diffusion coefficients. though. The constants it does depend on are Dp and Dn.

is that the direction of the diffusion current depends on the change in the carrier concentrations. because electrons will be diffusing to the +x direction carrying a -q charge. charged particle motion in response to an applied electric field. holes will diffuse to the +x direction where there's a lower concentration of holes. there will be a change in concentration is some places in the semiconductor. by definition. Even so. we are interested in the current density. In the case of diffusion current. instead of each one individually. Therefore. This gradient can in turn give rise to an electric field. the signs are reversed as we are used to seeing them. carrying -q. resulting in a gradient. When an electric field is applied across a semiconductor. They may not be occurring at the same time. Under equilibrium conditions. the opposite will occur.The other difference between drift current and diffusion current. producing a current. Diffusion current will be the opposite of that. In the equation. the signs cancel for a positive derivative because the electrons. Drift Current Drift is. vd. we are interested in the current density . For these reasons it's not included in the equation for the electron diffusion current. if the doping is not completely uniform. It is considered a constant though. the holes will be diffusing in the -x direction to where there's a lower concentration of holes. the current density should be zero because there shouldn't be any drastic changes occurring. Drift current in a semiconductor is the resultant of carrier drift. the carriers start moving. Both drift current and diffusion current make up the total current in a semiconductor. When dealing with drift current. Because we are talking about a semiconductor. diffuse to the -x direction where there's less electrons. which in turn can give rise to non-zero current densities. because the carriers will eventually go the direction they are supposed to go regardless of any setbacks. For example. The positively charged holes move with the electric field. The concentration of holes is decreasing as you go from the -x to +x direction. We usually assign a +q to holes and -q to electrons. they are reversed to be opposite of the derivative of the concentrations. not the concentrations themselves. but the equation is still valid. The same goes for electrons. or specific areas in a semiconductor. This occurs because the carriers are diffusing from areas of high concentrations to areas of low concentrations. whereas the negatively charged electrons move against the electric field. The motion of each carrier can be described as a constant drift velocity. The sign remains if the derivative is negative. but in this case. This is why the negative sign is needed in the equation for the hole diffusion current. then the concentration of holes is growing as you move towards the +x direction. like applying an electric field or changing the carrier concentrations by a large margin. especially if you look at the direction of all the carriers. This constant takes into consideration the collisions and setbacks each carrier has while moving from one place to another. If the derivative is negative. if the derivative of p with respect to x is positive.

Take a look at the demo for the electric field. Another parameter drift current depends on is the carrier concentration. the holes will go the direction of the electric field. You can see how the electron does not travel in a straight line. On the demo. use the "full screen" option on your browser. creating an electric field. but it makes it to the other end eventually. so the resulting hole drift current will be negative. there isn't anything for the electron to bump into in free space. . so the resulting electron drift current will be positive. and the charge. and drift arises in response to an electric field. or direction of the current.due to drift. the mobility constant. because you have to have carriers in order for there to be current. This is an example of drift current. but in this case we will only take q as a magnitude. When a negative electric field is applied. when the electric field is negative. Drift current also depends on the ability of the carriers to move around in the semiconductor. To run the demo properly. The electron charge is -q. To return to this page. Their charge is +q. The reason we use q for both electrons and holes when it's +q for holes and -q for electrons. the electrons will go opposite the electric field. Also. so it travels in a straight line. On the other hand. we have that the current density due to drift depends on four parameters: the electric field. Each one of these carriers has a charge. or the electron and hole mobility. you need Shockwave installed for your browser. you'll need to use the browser's "back" button. for better viewing. if you click on "semiconductor" a potential will be applied. Finally. is that the electric field takes care of the sign. If you see the demo by clicking on "free space". the electron or hole concentration. Vice versa when the electric field is positive.

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