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PHYSICS INVESTIGATORY

PROJECT

By-Ayush Dowerah
[SEMICONDUCTORS]
Class-12 A
This project aims to throw a light on subject of
semiconductor and their uses in our life and its
N.P.S International School
working principles.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

First of all I am thankful to my teacher Mr. Rajesh


Kapoor for giving me the opportunity to do this
wonderful project on Semiconductors and also guiding
and helping me to complete this project.

I would also like to thank my school for allowing us the


opportunity to undertake such projects and also
providing us with the requisite facilities for the same.

Lastly i would like to thank my parents and all my friends


who have helped and have been there with me and
supported me to complete this project within the given
time frame.
INDEX
Sl.No Topic Page
. No.
1. Introduction 1
2. Semiconductor-Definition and 2
3. Theory 4
Types of Semiconductors
4. Electrical Resistivity of 8
Semiconductors
INTRODUCTION

Most of the solids can be placed in one of the two


classes: Metals and insulators. Metals are those
through which electric charge can easily flow, while
insulators are those through which electric charge is
difficult to flow. This distinction between the metals and
the insulators can be explained on the basis of the
number of free electrons in them. Metals have a large
number of free electrons which act as charge carriers,
while insulators have practically no free electrons.

are however, certain solids whose electrical


conductivity is intermediate
between metals and
insulators. They are called
‘Semiconductors’. Carbon,
silicon and germanium are
examples of semiconductors.
In semiconductors the outer
most electrons are neither so
rigidly bound with the atom
as in an insulator, nor so
loosely
bound as in metal.
At absolute zero a semiconductor becomes an ideal insulator
SEMICONDUCTORS-THEORY
AND DEFINITION

Semiconductors are the materials whose electrical


conductivity lies in between metals and insulator. The energy
band structure of the semiconductors is similar to the
insulators but in their case, the size of the forbidden energy
gap is much smaller than that of the insulator. In this class of
crystals, the forbidden gap is of the order of about 1ev, and
the two energy bands are distinctly separate with no
overlapping. At absolute “0” temperature, no electron has any
energy even to jump the forbidden gap and reach the
conduction band. Therefore the substance is an insulator.
But when we heat the crystal and thus provide some energy
to the atoms and their electrons, it becomes an easy matter
for some electrons to jump the small ( 1 ev) energy gap and
go to conduction band. Thus at higher temperatures, the
crystal becomes a conductors. This is the specific property of
the crystal which is known as a semiconductor.
Image showing the energy band structures in
different materials

Effect of temperature on conductivity of


Semiconductor
At 0K, all semiconductors are insulators. The valence
band at absolute zero is completely filled and there are no
free electrons in conduction band. At room temperature
the electrons jump to the conduction band due to the
thermal energy. When the temperature increases, a large
number of electrons cross over the forbidden gap and
jump from valence to conduction band. Hence
conductivity of semiconductor increases with
temperature.
TYPES OF SEMICONDUCTORS

INTRINSIC SEMICONDUCTORS

Pure semiconductors are called intrinsic semi-conductors.


In a pure semiconductor, each atom behaves as if there are 8
electrons in its valence shell and therefore the entire material
behaves as an insulator at low temperatures.
A semiconductor atom needs energy of the order of 1.1ev to
shake off the valence electron. This energy becomes available
to it even at room temperature. Due to thermal agitation of
crystal structure, electrons from a few covalent bonds come
out. The bond from which electron is freed, a vacancy is
created there. The vacancy in the covalent bond is called a
hole.
This hole can be filled by some other electron in a covalent
bond. As an electron from covalent bond moves to fill the
hole, the hole is created in the covalent bond from which the
electron has moved. Since the direction of movement of the
hole is opposite to that of the negative electron, a hole
behaves as a positive charge carrier. Thus, at room
temperature, a pure semiconductor will have electrons and
holes wandering in random directions. These electrons and
holes are called intrinsic carriers.

As the crystal is neutral, the number of free electrons will be


equal to the number of holes. In an intrinsic semiconductor, if
ne denotes the electron number density in conduction band, n h
the hole number density in valence band and n i the number
density or concentration of charge carriers, then
ne = nh = ni

extrinsic semiconductors

As the conductivity of intrinsic semiconductors is poor, so


intrinsic semiconductors are of little practical importance.
The conductivity of pure semiconductor can, however be
enormously increased by addition of some pentavalent or
a trivalent impurity in a very small amount (about 1 to 106
parts of the semiconductor). The process of adding an
impurity to a pure semiconductor so as to improve its
conductivity is called doping. Such semiconductors are
called extrinsic semiconductors. Extrinsic semiconductors
are of two types :
i) ntype semiconductor
ii) ptype semiconductor
N-type semiconductor

When an impurity atom belonging to group V of the


periodic table like Arsenic is added to the pure semi-
conductor, then four of the five impurity electrons form
covalent bonds by sharing one electron with each of the
four nearest silicon atoms, and fifth electron from each
impurity atom is almost free to conduct electricity. As the
pentavalent impurity increases the number of free
electrons, it is called donor impurity. The electrons so set
free in the silicon crystal are called extrinsic carriers and
the ntype Sicrystal is called n type extrinsic semiconductor.
Therefore ntype Sicrystal will have a large number of free
electrons (majority carriers) and have a small number of
holes (minority carriers).
In terms of valence and conduction band one can think that all
such electrons create a donor energy level just below the
conduction band as shown in figure. As the energy gap
between donor energy level and the conduction band is very
small, the electrons can easily raise themselves to conduction
band even at room temperature. Hence, the conductivity of n
type extrinsic semiconductor is markedly increased.
In a doped or extrinsic semiconductor, the number
density of the conduction band (ne) and the number
density of holes in the valence band (nh) differ from that
in a pure semiconductor. If ni is the number density of
electrons is conduction band, then it is proved that
ne nh = ni2
P-type semiconductor

If a trivalent impurity like indium is added in pure semi


conductor, the impurity atom can provide only three valence
electrons for covalent bond formation. Thus a gap is left in
one of the covalent bonds. The gap acts as a hole that tends
to accept electrons. As the trivalent impurity atoms accept
electrons from the silicon crystal, it is called acceptor
impurity. The holes so created are extrinsic carriers and the
ptype Sicrystal so obtained is called ptype extrinsic
semiconductor. Again, as the pure Sicrystal also possesses a
few electrons and holes, therefore, the ptype sicrystal will
have a large number of holes (majority carriers) and a small
number of electrons (minority carriers).
It terms of valence and conduction band one can think that
all such holes create an accepter energy level just above
the top of the valance band as shown in figure. The
electrons from valence band can raise themselves to the
accepter energy level by absorbing thermal energy at room
temperature and in turn create holes in the valence band.
Number density of valence band holes (nh) in ptype
semiconductor is approximately equal to that of the
acceptor atoms (Na) and is very large as compared to the
number density of conduction band electrons (ne). Thus,
nh Na > > ne
ELECTRICAL RESISTIVITY OF
SEMICONDUCTORS

Consider a block of semiconductor of length l1 area of


cross section A and having number density of electrons
and holes as ne and nh respectively. Suppose that on
applying a potential difference, say V, a current I flows
through it as shown in figure. The electron current (Ic)
and the hole current (Ih) constitute the current I flowing
through the semi conductor i.e.
I = Ie +
Ih (i)

It ne is the number density of conduction


band electrons in the semiconductor and ve, the drift
velocity of electrons then

Ie = eneAve

Similarly, the hole current, Ih = enhAvh

From (i) I = eneAve + enhAvh

I = eA(neve + nhvh) (ii)


If  is the resistivity of the material of
the semiconductor, then the resistance offered by the
semiconductor to the flow of current is given by :

R =  l/A (iii)

Since V = RI, from equation (ii) and (iii) we have

V = RI = l/A eA (neve + nh vh)


V= le(neve + nhvh) (iv)


If E is the electric field set up across the semiconductor, then:

E = V/l
(v)

From equation (iv) and (v), we have

E = e (neve + nhvh)
1/ = e (ne ve/E + nh vh/E)

On applying electric field, the drift velocity acquired by


the electrons (or holes) per unit strength of electric field
is called mobility of electrons (or holes). Therefore,
mobility of electrons and holes is given by :

 e = ve/E and  h = vh/E

1/ = e(ne  e + nh  h) (vi)

Also, =1/ is called conductivity of the material of


semiconductor

 = e (ne  e + nh  h) (vii)
The relation (vi) and (vii) show that the conductivity and
resistivity of a semiconductor depend upon the electron
and hole number densities and their mobilities. As n e and
nh increases with rise in temperature, therefore,
conductivity of semiconductor increases with rise in
temperature and resistivity decreases with rise in
temperature.

P-N JUNCTION

A p–n junction is a boundary or interface


between two types of
semiconductor material, p-type and n-type,
inside a single crystal
of semiconductor. The "p" (positive) side contains an
excess of holes, while the "n" (negative) side contains
an excess of electrons. The p-n junction is created
by doping, for example by ion implantation,
diffusion of dopants , or by epitaxy (growing a
layer of crystal
doped with one type of dopant on top of a
layer of crystal doped with another type of
dopant).
A p–n junction circuit symbol is
shown: the triangle corresponds
to the p side.

If an external potential is applied to the


terminals of PN junction, it will alter the
potential between the P and N-regions. This
potential difference can alter the flow of
majority carriers, so that the PN junction can
be used as an opportunity for the diffusion of
electrons and holes.
If the voltage applied decreases the width of
the depletion layer, then the diode is assumed
to be in forward bias and if the applied voltage
increases the depletion layer width then the
diode is assumed to be in reverse bias. If the
width of depletion layer do not alters then it is
in the zero bias state.
 Forward Bias: External voltage
decreases the built-in potential
barrier.
 Reverse Bias: External voltage
increases the built-in potential
barrier.
 Zero/No Bias: No external voltage is
applied.

PN Junction Diode When No


External Voltage is applied
In zero bias or thermal equilibrium state junction potential provides higher
potential energy to the holes on the P-side than the N-side. If the terminals
of junction diode are shorted, few majority charge carriers (holes) in the P
side with sufficient energy to surmount the potential barrier travel across
the depletion region.

Therefore, with the help of holes, current starts to flow in the diode and it
is referred to as forward current. In the similar manner, holes in the N side
move across the depletion region in reverse direction and the current
generated in this fashion is referred to as reverse current.

Potential barrier opposes the migration of electrons and holes across the
junction and allow the minority charge carriers to drift across the PN
junction. As a result of it, a state of equilibrium is established when the
majority charge carriers are equal in concentration on either side of the
junction and when minority charge carriers are moving in opposite
directions.
A net zero current flows in the circuit and the junction is said to be in
dynamic equilibrium. By increasing the temperature of semiconductors,
minority charge carriers have been continuously generated and thereby
leakage current starts to rise. In general no conduction of electric current
takes place because no external source is connected to the PN junction.

Forward Biased Diode


With the externally applied voltage, a potential difference is altered
between the P and N regions.When positive terminal of the source is
connected to the P side and the negative terminal is connected to N side
then the junction diode is said to be connected in forward bias condition.
Forward bias lowers the potential across the PN junction.

The majority charge carriers in N and P regions are attracted towards the
PN junction and the width of the depletion layer decreases with diffusion of
the majority charge carriers. The external biasing causes a departure from
the state of equilibrium and a misalignment of Fermi levels in the P and N
regions, and also in the depletion layer.

So an electric field is induced in a direction converse to that of the


incorporated field. The presence of two different Fermi levels in the
depletion layer represents a state of quasi-equilibrium. The amount of
charge Q stored in the diode is proportional to the current I flowing in the
diode.
With the increase in forward bias greater than the built in potential, at a
particular value the depletion region becomes very much thinner so that a
large number of majority charge carriers can cross the PN junction and
conducts an electric current. The current flowing up to built in potential is
called as ZERO current or KNEE current.

Forward Biased Diode


Characteristics
With the increase in applied external forward bias, the width of the
depletion layer becomes thin and forward current in a PN junction diode
starts to increase abruptly after the KNEE point of forward I-V
characteristic curve.

Firstly, a small amount of current called as reverse saturation current


exists due to the presence of the contact potential and the related electric
field. While the electrons and holes are freely crossing the junction and
causes diffusion current that flows in the opposite direction to the reverse
saturation current.

The net result of applying forward bias is to reduce the height of the potential
barrier by an amount of eV. The majority carrier current in the PN junction
diode increases by an exponential factor of eV/kT. As result the total amount
of current becomes I = Is * exp(eV/kT), where Is is constant.

The excess free majority charge carrier holes and electrons that enter the
N and P regions respectively, acts as a minority carriers and recombine
with the local majority carriers in N and P regions. This concentration
consequently decreases with the distance from the PN junction and this
process is named as minority carrier injection.
The forward characteristic of a PN junction diode is non linear, i.e., not a
straight line. This type of forward characteristic shows that resistance is not
constant during the operation of the PN junction. The slope of the forward
characteristic of a PN junction diode will become very steep quickly.

This shows that resistance is very low in forward bias of the junction
diode. The value of forward current is directly proportional to the external
power supply and inversely proportional to the internal resistance of the
junction diode.

Applying forward bias to the PN junction diode causes a low impedance


path for the junction diode, allows for conducting a large amount of current
known as infinite current. This large amount current starts to flow above the
KNEE point in the forward characteristic with the application of a small
amount of external potential.

The potential difference across the junction or at the two N and P regions is
maintained constant by the action of depletion layer. The maximum amount
of current to be conducted is kept limited by the load resistor, because
when the diode conducts more current than the usual specifications of the
diode, the excess current results in the dissipation of heat and also leads
to severe damage of the device.
Reverse Biased Diode
When positive terminal of the source is connected to the N side and the
negative terminal is connected to P side, then the junction diode is said to
be connected in reverse bias condition. In this type of connection majority
charge carriers are attracted away from the depletion layer by their
respective battery terminals connected to PN junction.

The Fermi level on N side is lower than the Fermi level on P side. Positive
terminal attracts the electrons away from the junction in N side and
negative terminal attracts the holes away from the junction in P side. As a
result of it, the width of the potential barrier increases that impedes the flow
of majority carriers in N side and P side.

The width of the free space charge layer increases, thereby electric field at
the PN junction increases and the PN junction diode acts as a resistor. But
the time of diode acting as a resistor is very low. There will be no
recombination of majority carriers taken place at the PN junction; thus, no
conduction of electric current.

The current that flows in a PN junction diode is the small leakage current,
due to minority carriers generated at the depletion layer or minority
carriers which drift across the PN junction. Finally, the result is that the
growth in the width of the depletion layer presents a high impedance path
which acts as an insulator.
In reverse bias condition, no current flows through the PN junction diode
with increase in the amount of applied external voltage. However,
leakage current due to minority charge carriers flows in the PN junction
diode that can be measured in micro amperes.

As the reverse bias potential to the PN junction diode increases ultimately


leads to PN junction reverse voltage breakdown and the diode current is
controlled by external circuit. Reverse breakdown depends on the doping
levels of the P and N regions.

With the increase in reverse bias further, PN junction diode become short
circuited due to overheat in the circuit and maximum circuit current flows
in the PN junction diode.
Reverse Biased Diode Characteristics:

V-I Characteristics of PN Junction Diode

In the current–voltage characteristics of junction diode, from the first


quadrant in the figure current in the forward bias is incredibly low if the
input voltage applied to the diode is lower than the threshold voltage (Vr).
The threshold voltage is additionally referred to as cut-in voltage.
Once the forward bias input voltage surpasses the cut-in voltage (0.3 V
for germanium diode, 0.6-0.7 V for silicon diode), the current spectacularly
increases, as a result the diode functions as short-circuit.

The reverse bias characteristic curve of diode is shown in the fourth


quadrant of the figure above. The current in the reverse bias is low till
breakdown is reached and therefore the diode looks like as open circuit.
When the reverse bias input voltage has reached the breakdown voltage,
reverse current increases spectacularly.
PN Diode Ideal and Real Characteristics

For ideal characteristics, the total current in the PN junction diode is


constant throughout the entire junction diode. The individual electron and
hole currents are continuous functions and are constant throughout the
junction diode.

The real characteristics of PN Junction diode varies with the applied


external potential to the junction that changes the properties of junction
diode. The junction diode acts as short circuit in forward bias and acts as
open circuit in reverse bias.