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Topic 1:

Introduction To
Semiconductor Diodes

Introduction To Electronics 1
BEB 11103

Lecture 1
Dr. Mohd Amir Abas

Topic Outline

z Atomic Structure
z Electron Shells and Orbits
z Semiconductors, Conductors, Insulator
z Comparison of a Semiconductor Atom
z Covalent Bonds
z N-Type and P-Type Semiconductors

Atomic Structure

All matter is made of atoms; and all atoms are made of electrons,
protons and neutron.

z An atom is the smallest particles of an element.

z Bohr Model -
Atom has planetary type of structure that consists of
nucleus (positively charge particles called proton and
uncharged particles called neutron) and surrounded
by orbiting electron (negatively charged particles).
z Each atom has certain number of electrons and

Atomic Number

z The atomic number = the number of the protons in the nucleus

= the number of the electrons in neutral state.

Bohr Model 5

Atomic Number

Slide 3 Electron Shells and Orbits

z Energy Levels
¾ In atom, the orbits are group into energy bands known as
shells. Each shell has a fixed maximum number of

¾ The shells are designated as K, L, M, N and so on.

¾ Energy levels increase as the distance from the nucleus



Valence Electrons

z Electron that are in orbits farther from the

nucleus have higher energy and are less
tightly bound to the atom than those closer to
the nucleus.

z The outermost shell is known as the valence

shell and the electrons in this shell are called
valence electron , which contributing to
chemical reactions to determine its electrical


¾ When an atom absorbs energy from heat or

light, the energy level of the electrons are
raised and more loosely bound to atom than
inner electrons.

¾ If valence electron acquires sufficient energy, it

can escape from the outer shell.

¾ The atom now is excess pf positive charge.

Process of loosing valence electron known
as ionization, i.e resulting positively charged
atom so called positive ion. The escape
electron is called free electron.

The Number Of Electrons in Each Shell

z The maximum number of electrons (Ne) that

can exist in each shell of an atom can be
calculated by the formula
Ne = 2n2

Where n is the number of shell. The innermost

(K) shell is number 1, the L shell is number 2,
the M shell is number 3, and so on.



z The maximum number of electrons that can exist in the innermost

shell is
¾ Ne = 2n2 = 2(1)2 = 2

z The maximum number of electrons that can exist in the second

shell is
¾ Ne = 2n2 = 2(2)2 = 8

z The maximum number of electrons that can exist in the third shell
¾ Ne = 2n2 = 2(3)2 = 18


Number Of Electrons in Each Shell


Materials classification

z Conductor,
z Semiconductor, and
z Insulator.

(based on their electrical properties)


Materials classification
z Conductor
¾ Is a material that easily conducts electrical
current such as copper, silver, gold and
¾ They have only one valence electron and very
loosely bound to the atom.
¾ These electron will be the free electrons and
when they are moving in the same direction,
produce the current.


z Insulator
¾ Isa material that does not conduct electrical
current under normal conditions because
valence electrons are tightly bound to atoms.
¾ no free electrons in an insulator.

z Semiconductor
¾A semiconductor in its pure (intrinsic) state is
neither a good conductor nor a good insulator
such as silicon, germanium and carbon. They
have 4 valence electrons.


Energy Bands
z An electron in the valence shell is said to have energy
corresponding to the valence band of energy or simply valence

z However, as a result of acquiring a specific amount of additional

energy, an electron in the valence shell becomes free of the
nucleus, with its new energy, an electron is characterized as
being in conduction band of energy or simply, conduction

z Differentiation among materials can be made on the basis of the

amount of energy needed to liberate a single valence electron
from the influence of the nucleus.

z The amount of energy between the highest energy in the

valence band, Ev, and the lowest energy in the conduction
band, Ec, is a characteristic of the material and is called the
energy gap, Eg.

Thus Eg.= Ec.- Ev


Energy Bands

z The difference energy between the valence

band and the conduction band is called an
energy gap.



z The principle semiconductor material used in

electronics is silicon (Si) with Germanium
(Ge) as secondary material.
z An atom of pure (intrinsic) silicon has 14
electrons, and its electron shell configuration
is 2, 8, 4. The third shell is incomplete.
z Each silicon atom shares electron with each
of its four nearest neighbors, this unique
sharing is known as covalent bonding.


Atomic structure: (a) germanium; (b) silicon.



z The atoms within the crystal structure are

held together by covalent bond (interaction
of the valence electron of the atom).


Covalent bonds in a three-dimensional

silicon crystal.



z The electrical characteristics of Silicon

and Germanium are improved by adding
materials (impurities) in a process called
z The additional materials are in two types:
• n-type
• p-type


N – Type Semiconductors

z N-type semiconductors are formed by adding small amounts of

pentavalent impurities to the intrinsic semiconductor crystal.
z Typically, such impurities are chemical elements of phosphorus
(P), arsenic (As), bismuth (Bi) and antimony (Sb). These are
atoms with five (5) valence electrons.
z Each impurity atom contributes one electron to each of four
covalent bonds, and each has one excess electron that is not
taking part in a covalent bond.
z This excess electron is weakly bound to the core and usually has
enough energy to be considered as free electron.
z Pentavalent impurities are called donor atoms which increase the
free electrons population in a semiconductor.
z Therefore, the essential characteristic of N-type semiconductor is
that electrons are more.


N-type semiconductor

P – Type Semiconductors

z P-type semiconductors are formed by adding small amounts of

trivalent impurities to the intrinsic semiconductor crystal.
z Typically, such impurities are chemical elements of boron (B),
gallium (Ga) and indium (In). These are atoms with three (3)
valence electrons.
z The trivalent atoms cannot satisfy all four covalent bounds around
them. One covalent bond near each of P-type impurity atoms is
incomplete. It introduce hole. “The absence of an electron in a
covalent bond is known as hole”.
z Trivalent impurities are called acceptor atoms because each can
accept one electron into its incomplete bond.
z Therefore, the essential characteristic of P-type semiconductor is
that holes are more and they are termed majority carries.


P-type semiconductor

n-type versus p-type

n-type materials make the Silicon (or Germanium) atoms more
p-type materials make the Silicon (or Germanium) atoms more

Join n-type and p-type doped Silicon (or Germanium) to form a p-n


p-n junction


p-n junction

•When the materials are joined, the negatively charged atoms of the n-type doped side are
attracted to the positively charged atoms of the p-type doped side.
•The electrons in the n-type material migrate/diffuse across the junction to the p-type
material (electron flow).
•The loses of electrons in n-type region creates a layer of positive charges near the n-
junction. The excessive of electrons creates a layer of negative charges near the p-junction.
•The result is the formation of a depletion layer around the junction.
•This region has expanded to a point where equilibrium is established and there is no further
diffusion of electrons across the junction. Thus the depletion region acts as barrier to avoid
further movement of electrons across the junction.


p-n junction


Slide 16 Barrier Potential

z The forces between the opposite charges form a “field of force”

called electric field.
z This electric field is a barrier to the free electrons in the n-type
z The electric field is also called barrier potential and its expresses
in volts.
z The typical barrier potential for silicon is 0.7V and for germanium
is 0.3V at 25˚ C.


Slide 17 Operating Conditions of pn-junction

• No Bias

• Forward Bias

• Reverse Bias


Slide 18 No Bias Condition

No external voltage is applied: VD = 0V and no current is flowing ID = 0A.

Only a modest depletion layer exists.


Forward Bias Condition

z External voltage is applied

across the p-n junction in the
same polarity of the p- and n-
type materials.

z The negative side of the Vbias "

pushes " the free electrons
toward the PN junction.

z The free electrons have

sufficient energy to overcome
the barrier potential of the
depletion region and move on
through into the P region.
z As more electrons flow into the
depletion region, the number of
positive ions is reduced. Causes
the depletion region to narrow.

z Thus permits the current to flow

through the diode.

Reverse Bias Condition

External voltage is applied across the p-n junction

in the opposite polarity of the p- and n-type materials.
• The electrons in the n-type
material are attracted
towards the positive terminal and
the ‘holes’ in
the p-type material are attracted
towards the
negative terminal. Causes the
depletion region to widen.
• Thus prevent the current to flow
through the diode.


z The extremely small current that exists in

reverse bias after the transition current dies
out is caused by the minority carriers in the
N region and P regions that are produced
by thermally generated.
z The minority electrons in P region are
pushed toward the PN junction and fall down
the energy hill and combine with minority
holes as valences electrons and flow toward
the positive bias voltage, creating a small


z If the external voltage is increased to a value
called the breakdown voltage, the reverse
current will drastically increase.
z The high reverse voltage imparts energy to
the free minority electrons so that as they
speed through the P region, they collide with
atoms with enough energy to knock valence
electrons out of orbit and into the conduction
z This results in a very high reverse current
that can damage the PN structure.