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Advanced Condensed State Physics - Problem Sheet 9

(Problems 3, 4 and 5 are some of the assessed problems be handed in to the School Office
before 14:00 Thursday 9th April)

1 Interpretation of experimental data


The following figure shows schematically the result of a typical experiment studying a semiconductor doped with both donors and acceptors. The density of carriers is plotted in logarithmic scale as a function of 1/T .

NS

ni
1/T
(i) Describe qualitatively why there are three different regions, and what is the meaning of
intrinsic, saturation and freeze-out in the graph.
(ii) What is the value of NS if the donor and acceptor densities are ND and NA , respectively?
[Hint: you have to distinguish two different cases, depending on whether electrons or
holes are the majority carrier].

2 Capacitance of a p-n junction


Consider a p-n junction at room temperature. The p-side is doped with a density NA of acceptors, and the n-side is doped with a density ND of donors. The potential drop in the absence
of bias is 0 . In principle, there is some accumulation of charge even in the absence of any
applied voltage bias.
Let us assume that a voltage V is applied to the p-n junction. We will also assume the same
approximations that we used to study the depletion layer, namely, that charge accumulates in
a region with sharp boundaries.
(i) Calculate the widths, wn and w p , of the depletion layer on the two sides of the junction
in the presence of the voltage bias.
(ii) Calculate the change in the magnitude of the charge per unit area associated with the p-n
junction as a result of the applied voltage.
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(iii) Calculate the capacitance of the p-n junction as a function of the voltage, C(V ).

p-n junction at low temperatures


To be assessed in Week 12 (% refers to the contribution to the coursework mark in week 12)

In the lectures, we have calculated the potential drop across a p-n junction, 0 , at room
temperature. Here we will study the low-temperature case.
Consider a p-n junction. The p-side is doped with a majority of acceptor impurities and
a residual small density of donors. The n-side is doped with a majority of donor impurities,
and a residual small density of acceptors. Assume that the temperature is very low, such
that kB T  ED , and kB T  EA , with EA and ED the acceptor and donor ionization energies,
respectively.
(i) (15 %) Deduce the value of the chemical potential at the two sides of the p-n junction.
(ii) (15 %) Calculate the potential drop across the junction.

Graded p-n junction


To be assessed in Week 12 (% refers to the contribution to the coursework mark in week 12)

Consider a p-n junction where the densities of donors and acceptors depend on the the position
in the following way:
ND (x) NA (x) = N0 tanh(ax).
Note that the p-side corresponds to x < 0 (NA (x) > ND (x)), and the n-side corresponds to x > 0
(ND (x) > NA (x)). Assume that the junction is at room temperature.
(i) (15 %) Calculate the chemical potential relative to the valence band edge in the p-side
p (x), and the chemical potential relative to the valence band edge in the n-side, n (x).
(ii) (15 %) Calculate the potential drop along the p-n junction, 0 (x), for values of x outside
the depletion layer.

Current through a p-n junction with an applied bias


To be assessed in Week 12 (% refers to the contribution to the coursework mark in week 12)

(20 %) A current of 5 A flows through a p-n junction diode at room temperature (T = 300
K) when it is reverse biased with 0.15 V. Calculate the current flow when it is forward biased
with the same voltage.