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You are on page 1of 15

Aims of this section

mobility and mobile carrier densities, to introduce the

microscopic and macroscopic forms of Ohm’s law, and to

derive the I-V characteristic of a simple semiconductor resistor.

After completing this section, you should

• understand what is meant by current density J

• be able to express J in terms of the electric field E and the

density and velocity of the charge carriers

• be able to find the conductivity σ = J / E

• be able to derive resistor I-V characteristics

Semiconductors & EM Theory 1 Lecture 5

5.1 Flow

Electric current is the flow of charge, e.g. traffic flow analogy

• The velocity of the vehicles

• The number of motorway lanes

• The number of people in each vehicle

• The distance between vehicles

Semiconductors & EM Theory 2 Lecture 5

5.2 Flow of charge - electric current

The amount of charge that crosses this line per second is the

electric current I. This current is determined by four

parameters:

• The cross-sectional area of the piece of conductor A

• The amount of charge carried by each mobile charge q

• The density of mobile charges n

Semiconductors & EM Theory 3 Lecture 5

The electrical current is:

Q

I = = nq v ⋅ A (5.1)

t

Note that electrons and holes move in opposite directions in an

applied E field

5.3 Non-uniform current flow and current density J

Semiconductors & EM Theory 5 Lecture 5

Define current density

J = nq v (5.2)

cross sectional area A, the total current through the cross

section is I = JA .

a cross section), the total current is found by performing the

integral of J over the cross sectional area of the conductor

I = ∫ J dA

5.4 Sign conventions

Remember that:

• I and J are always in the direction of motion of a positive

charge (conventional current flow)

5.5 Drift current density

( )

J = J n + J p = neμ n + peμ p E (5.5)

conventional current flow.

5.6 The microscopic form of Ohm’s law and conductivity

( )

J = neμ n + peμ p E = σ E (5.6)

J = σ E , with

σ = neμ n + peμ p (5.7)

1

ρ=

σ

• The SI units of ρ are Ω m (Ohm metres).

Semiconductors & EM Theory 9 Lecture 5

5.7 Intrinsic conductivity of a pure semiconductor

σ = neμ n + peμ p = ni e(μ n + μ p ) (5.9)

σ ≈ N D eμ n (5.10)

Similarly, for a p-type semiconductor

σ ≈ N A eμ p (5.11)

Semiconductors & EM Theory 10 Lecture 5

Worked Example

Find the conductivity at 300 K of a piece of n-type Si doped

with 7 ×1017 cm−3 of As atoms. Find also the ratio of the

electron and hole current densities.

n ≈ N D = 7 ×1017 cm −3

p ≈ n / N D ≈ (1.5 × 10

2

i )

10 2

/ 7 × 1017 cm −3 = 320 cm −3

σ = neμn + peμp ≈ N D eμn

. × 10−19 × 014

≈ 7 × 1023 × 16 . S / m ≈ 16

. × 104 S / m

= ≡ ≈ ≈ ≈ 6.1 × 1015

Almost all of the current is due to the majority carriers, in this

case electrons since the doping is n-type.

5.9 The macroscopic form of Ohm’s law

V

E=

L

V

J = σE = σ

L

Semiconductors & EM Theory 12 Lecture 5

The current I in the device flows through an area WH, so that

J = I / WH and hence

V I

J =σ =

L WH

We define the resistance R of the device as the ratio V/I

V 1 L L

R= = ≡ρ (5.12)

I σ WH WH

I-V characteristic

• If R is a constant, the device has a linear I-V characteristic

• If R varies with V, the device has a non-linear I-V

characteristic

• The SI unit of R is the Ohm ( Ω )

Semiconductors & EM Theory 13 Lecture 5

5.10 Summary

• Current

• Current Density

• Drift current

• Conductivity

• Resistivity

response to an electric field created by an applied voltage

• derive the I-V characteristic of a simple resistor

Semiconductors & EM Theory 15 Lecture 5

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