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Semiconductor devices are electronic components that exploit the electronic properties of semiconductor materials, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices (vacuum tubes) in most applications. They use electronic conduction in the solid state as opposed to the gaseous state or thermionic emission in a high vacuum. Semiconductor devices are manufactured both as single discrete devices and as integrated circuits (ICs), which consist of a number from a few (as low as two) to billions of devices manufactured and interconnected on a single semiconductor substrate, or wafer. Semiconductor materials are so useful because their behavior can be easily manipulated by the addition of impurities, !nown as doping. Semiconductor conductivity can be controlled by introduction of an electric or magnetic field, by exposure to light or heat, or by mechanical deformation of a doped monocrystalline grid" thus, semiconductors can ma!e excellent sensors. Current conduction in a semiconductor occurs via mobile or #free# electrons and holes, collectively !nown as charge carriers. $oping a semiconductor such as silicon with a small amount of impurity atoms, such as phosphorus or boron, greatly increases the number of free electrons or holes within the semiconductor. %hen a doped semiconductor contains excess holes it is called #p&type#, and when it contains excess free electrons it is !nown as #n&type#, where p (positive for holes) or n (negative for electrons) is the sign of the charge of the ma'ority mobile charge carriers. The semiconductor material used in devices is doped under highly controlled conditions in a fabrication facility, or fab, to precisely control the location and concentration of p& and n&type dopants. The 'unctions which form where n&type and p&type semiconductors 'oin together are called p(n 'unctions.
The diode is a device made from a single p(n 'unction. )t the 'unction of a p&type and an n&type semiconductor there forms a region called the depletion *one or region which bloc!s current conduction from the n&type region to the p&type region, but allows current to conduct from the p&type region to the n&type region. Thus, when the device is forward biased, with the p&side at higher electric potential, the diode conducts current easily" but the current is very small when the diode is reverse biased. +xposing a semiconductor to light can generate electron(hole pairs, which increases the number of free carriers and its conductivity. $iodes optimi*ed to ta!e advantage of this phenomenon are !nown as photodiodes. Compound semiconductor diodes can also be used to generate light, as in light&emitting diodes and laser diodes.
)nother type of transistor. forming a metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (/0S. I/7)TT diodes have also been fabricated from SiC./ is a ma'or producer of such devices. indium antimonide. Today.ipolar 'unction transistors are formed from two p(n 'unctions.+T. germanium is often alloyed with silicon for use in very&high&speed Si5e devices" I. or base.+T is named in part for its #metal# gate. limiting the wafer diameter to si*es significantly smaller than silicon wafers thus ma!ing mass production of 5a)s devices significantly more expensive than silicon. The middle. relatively simple processing. thereby changing its conductivity. Its combination of low raw material cost. Semiconductor device materials .+T.) wafers.+T) or by an electrode isolated from the bul! material by an oxide layer. . )lthough the /0S. Silicon carbide (SiC) has found some application as the raw material for blue light&emitting diodes (6+$s) and is being investigated for use in semiconductor devices that could withstand very high operating temperatures and environments with the presence of significant levels of ioni*ing radiation. operates on the principle that semiconductor conductivity can be increased or decreased by the presence of an electric field. 5ermanium (5e) was a widely used early semiconductor material but its thermal sensitivity ma!es it less useful than silicon. are !nown as the emitter and the collector. called the source and drain. in modern devices polysilicon is typically used instead. $epending on the type of carrier in the channel. and their associated terminals. region between the 'unctions is typically very narrow. The /0S. is the most used semiconductor device today. 0ther less common materials are also in use or under investigation. and a useful temperature range ma!e it currently the best compromise among the various competing materials. the field&effect transistor.Transistor . The other regions. 8arious indium compounds (indium arsenide. This creates a much larger current between the collector and emitter. controlled by the base&emitter current. The gate electrode is charged to produce an electric field that controls the conductivity of a #channel# between two terminals. Selenium sulfide is being studied in the manufacture of photovoltaic solar cells. the device may be an n-channel (for electrons) or a p-channel (for holes) /0S. silicon (Si) is the most widely used material in semiconductor devices. Silicon used in semiconductor device manufacturing is currently fabricated into boules that are large enough in diameter to allow the production of 122 mm (34 in. )n electric field can increase the number of free electrons and holes in a semiconductor. ) small current in'ected through the 'unction between the base and the emitter changes the properties of the base&collector 'unction so that it can conduct current even though it is reverse biased. 5allium arsenide (5a)s) is also widely used in high&speed devices but so far. and indium phosphide) are also being used in 6+$s and solid state laser diodes. The field may be applied by a reverse&biased p(n 'unction. a solid&state device. forming a junction field-effect transistor (-.+T). it has been difficult to form large& diameter boules of this material.y far. in either n(p(n or p(n(p configuration.
The #cat.s whis!er# is a primitive example of a special type of diode still popular today.s whis!er# developed by -agadish Chandra .ose and others. Then.s whis!er systems :uic!ly disappeared. 7ower semiconductor devices are discrete devices or integrated circuits intended for high current or high voltage applications. the cat. In digital circuits li!e microprocessors. 7ower integrated circuits combine IC technology with power semiconductor technology. Several companies speciali*e in manufacturing power semiconductors. thevoltage applied to the gate determines whether theswitch is on or off.The most common use for organic semiconductors is 0rganic light&emitting diodes Semiconductor device applications )ll transistor types can be used as the building bloc!s of logic gates. they respond to a continuous range of inputs with a continuous range of outputs. over a period of a few hours or days. radar research :uic!ly pushed radar receivers to operate at ever higher fre:uencies and . re:uiring the operator to move a small tungsten filament (the whis!er) around the surface of a5alena (lead sulfide) or (silicon carbide) crystal until it suddenly started wor!ing. These detectors were somewhat troublesome.s whis!er would slowly stop wor!ing and the process would have to be repeated. )t the time their operation was completely mysterious. these are sometimes referred to as #smart# power devices.+T. which are fundamental in the design of digital circuits. for instance. the cat. Common analog circuits include amplifiers and oscillators. Circuits that interface or translate between digital circuits and analog circuits are !nown as mixed&signal circuits. transistors act as on&off switches" in the /0S. Transistors used for analog circuits do not act as on&off switches" rather. )fter the introduction of the more reliable and amplified vacuum tube based radios. however. called a Schtto!y diode %orld %ar II $uring %orld %ar II. 9istory of semiconductor device development Cat's-whisker detecto Semiconductors had been used in the electronics field for some time before the invention of the transistor. )round the turn of the 42th century they were :uite common as detectors in radio used in a device called a #cat.
an amplifier could be built. the depletion region.4B. %illiam Shoc!ley decided to attempt the building of a triode&li!e semiconductor device. . the detector would mysteriously wor!. 9owever as he moved about the room trying to test it. it had a clearly visible crac! near the middle. and went to wor! on the problem with . if contacts are placed on both sides of a single type of crystal. 9owever if a third contact could then #in'ect# electrons or holes into the material. The crystal had crac!ed because either side contained very slightly different amounts of the impurities 0hl could not remove(about 2. and tantali*ing hints of amplification continued to appear as the team wor!ed on the problem. the whole idea of the crystal diode was that the crystal itself could provide the electrons over a very small distance. Sometimes the system would wor! but then stop wor!ing unexpectedly. The mechanism of action when the diode is off has to do with the separation of charge carriers around the 'unction. . $evelopment of the diode )fter the war. The !ey to the development of the transistor was the further understanding of the process of the electron mobility in a semiconductor.ritain to the <nited States in 3=>2 during the Ti*ard /ission resulted in a pressing need for a practical high& fre:uency amplifier. and interestingly. he found that it wor!ed much better than tube&based systems.ecause the two parts of the crystal were in contact with each other. the electrons could be pushed out of the conductive side which had extra electrons (soon to be !nown as the emitter) and replaced by new ones being provided (from a battery.?citation needed@ 0n a whim. 9e invited several other people to see this crystal. It was reali*ed that if there were some way to control the flow of the electrons from the emitter to the collector of this newly discovered diode. and the concept soon became !nown as semiconduction. current would flow.the traditional tube based radio receivers no longer wor!ed well. That said.ardeen. . but so did their ability to operate as a radio detector. If the crystal were of any reasonable si*e. ma!ing it less than useful as an amplifier because it would re:uire a large in'ection current to start with.rattain immediately reali*ed there was some sort of 'unction at the crac!. This 'unction of the two crystals (or parts of one crystal) created a solid&state diode. )fter hunting one down at a used radio store in /anhattan. The !ey appeared to be to place the input and output contacts very close together on the surface of the crystal on either side of this region. .s whis!er functioned so well. . 9e spent most of 3=1= trying to grow more pure versions of the crystals. ma!ing it (what he called) an #insulator#.rattain started wor!ing on building such a device. when the voltage was reversed the electrons being pushed into the collector would :uic!ly fill up the #holes# (the electron&needy impurities).rattain and -ohn . and then stop again. 9e soon found that with higher :uality crystals their finic!y behaviour went away. current will not flow between them through the crystal.ell 6aboratories decided to try a cat.y this point they had not been in use for a number of years.urther research cleared up the remaining mystery. and no one at the labs had one. In . )fter some study he found that the behaviour was controlled by the light in the room(more light caused more conductance in the crystal. the number of electrons (or holes) re:uired to be in'ected would have to be very large.or instance. The introduction of the cavity magnetron from . and %alter . 0ne day he found one of his purest crystals nevertheless wor!ed well. This is called a #depletion region#. 9owever. for instance) where they would flow into the insulating portion and be collected by the whis!er filament (named the collector). The other had impurities that wanted to bind to these electrons. 0hl investigated why the cat. Aussell 0hl of .s whis!er. 9e secured funding and lab space. 0ne side of the crystal had impurities that added extra electrons (the carriers of electrical current) and made it a #conductor#. and conduction would stop almost instantly. )ctually doing this appeared to be very difficult.
region. )s long as the emitter and collector were very close together. . The electron&emitting and collecting leads would both be placed very close together on the top. a single larger surface would serve. 0hl and .sandwich. a very small number in the right place on the crystal would accomplish the same thing. would cluster at the surface of the crystal where they could find their opposite charge #floating around# in the air (or water). The electrons in any one piece of the crystal would migrate about due to nearby charges.ell 6abs on the afternoon of 41 $ecember 3=>D. -ohn . this should allow enough electrons or holes between them to allow conduction to start. and evolved into the bipolar 'unction transistor. to account for the behaviour.ardeen. with the control lead placed on the base of the crystal. Setups where the contacts were close enough were invariably as fragile as the original cat. structure. The point&contact transistor had been invented. or the #holes# in the collectors. Their understanding solved the problem of needing a very small control area to some degree. ) piece of gold foil was glued to the edge of a plastic wedge. %hen the wedge was pushed down onto the surface of a crystal and voltage applied to the other side (on the base of the crystal).rattain. the electrons or holes would be pushed out.radford Shoc!ley were awarded the 3=FG Hobel 7ri*e in physics for their wor! Improvements in transistor design Shoc!ley was upset about the device being credited to . Instead of needing a large supply of in'ected electrons. %hile the device was constructed a wee! earlier. but tiny. . The first transistor The .s own writings on the transistor were close enough to those of an earlier 3=4F patent by -ulius +dgar 6ilienfeld that they thought it best that his name be left off the patent application. often given as the birthdate of the transistor. current started to flow from one contact to the other as the base voltage pushed the electrons away from the base towards the other side near the contacts. Shoc!ley was incensed. ) few months later he invented an entirely new. what is now !nown as the #p(n(p point&contact germanium transistor# operated as a speech amplifier with a power gain of 3E in that trial. The result was two very closely spaced contacts of gold. and decided to demonstrate who was the real brains of the operation?citation needed@.s whis!er detectors had been.ardeen. considerably more robust. and then the foil was sliced with a ra*or at the tip of the triangle. Instead of needing two separate semiconductors connected by a common.rattain and . which became !nown as surface physics.one instance a non&wor!ing system started wor!ing when placed in water.rattain eventually developed a new branch of :uantum mechanics. across the bloc! of semiconductor. /atters became worse when . +ventually they had a practical brea!through.ell 6abs lawyers found that some of Shoc!ley. %hen current flowed through this #base# lead. Cet they could be pushed away from the surface with the application of a small amount of charge from any other location on the crystal.s notes describe the first demonstration to higher&ups at . but generally failed. This structure went on to be used for the vast ma'ority of all transistors into the 3=G2s. and %illiam . if at all. %alter 9ouser .rattain. +lectrons in the emitters.ell team made many attempts to build such a system with various tools. and collect on the far surface. and would wor! briefly. who he felt had built it #behind his bac!# to ta!e the glory. type of transistor with a layer or .
but few investigated this possibility. most notably easily portable radios. a remaining problem was purity. and limited the yield of transistors that actually wor!ed from a given batch of material. further increased crystal purity. /a!ing germanium of the re:uired purity was proving to be a serious problem. and his company. 5ordon I. profited from its technological edge.%ith the fragility problems solved. ) ma'or improvement in manufacturing yield came when a chemist advised the companies fabricating semiconductors to use distilled rather than tap waterJ calcium ions present in tap water were the cause of the poor yields. Teal was the first to develop a wor!ing silicon transistor. were appearing on the mar!et.s sensitivity to temperature also limited its usefulness. a techni:ue using a band of molten material moving through the crystal. . 5ermanium. %ithin a few years transistor&based products. Scientists theori*ed that silicon would be easier to fabricate. the nascent Texas Instruments.rom the late 3=G2s most transistors were silicon&based. . #Kone melting#.
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