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Semiconductor Fundamentals Introduction to Semiconductors

Introduction to Semiconductors
UNIT OBJECTIVE
At the completion of this unit, you will be able to describe a semi-conductor, identify semiconductor
devices, and demonstrate their operation by using circuits on the SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit
board.

UNIT FUNDAMENTALS
Diodes, transistors, integrated circuits, and other so-called “solid state” devices are made from crystals
of a semiconductor material, usually silicon or germanium. At room temperature, the crystals of pure
silicon and germanium are neither good insulators nor good conductors. This is why they are called
semiconductors.

Introducing an impurity into a semiconductor crystal through doping reduces the electrical resistance.
Semiconductor material doped with impurities containing excess electrons is called N type material
(negative). If the impurity has too few valence ring electrons, the doped semiconductor is called P type
material (positive). Free electrons are the majority carriers in N type material, and positive charges,
called holes are the majority carriers in P type material.

Doping adjacent areas of a semiconductor crystal with N type and P type impurities, respectively, forms a
PN junction. In a region close to the junction, a few electrons migrate to the P material and a few positive
charges migrate to the N material. Because these migrated charges tend to neutralize each other, an
arrow depletion region is created.
The SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit board has eight circuit blocks. Each circuit block consists of
an arrangement of diodes and/or transistors that gives you an understanding of how a semiconductor
functions in a practical application. This unit introduces you to semiconductors and the functional circuit
blocks on the SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit board. Subsequent units are dedicated to each of the
eight circuit blocks and to troubleshooting semiconductor circuits.

NEW TERMS AND WORDS


diodes – semiconductor devices consisting of P type material and N type material.
transistors – devices consisting of NPN or PNP semiconductor layers. Transistors allow a small current
to control the flow of a larger current.

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Introduction to Semiconductors Semiconductor Fundamentals

semiconductor – a material, usually silicon or germanium, doped with impurities to create a compound
whose electrical resistance is greater than that of conductors but less than that offered by insulators.
doping – the deliberate introduction of a specific type of impurity into very pure base material. Doping is
accomplished by many different processes, but it is always carefully controlled to produce semiconductors
with specific properties.
N type material – pure semiconductor material which has been doped with an impurity that introduces
free electrons into the semiconductor. The atoms of the doping material, sometimes referred to as donor
material, usually have a valence ring that contains one electron more than those required to complete
covalent bonds with base material atoms.
valence ring – the outermost electrons surrounding the nucleus of any atom. These electrons interact
with the valence electrons of neighboring electrons and are the main influences on the electrical
characteristics of the element.
P type material – pure semiconductor material which has been doped with an impurity that introduces
apparent positive charges (holes) into the semiconductor. The atoms of the doping material, sometimes
called acceptor material, usually have a valence ring that lacks one electron from those necessary to
complete covalent bonds with base material atoms.
free electrons–- “extra” valence ring electrons that are not incorporated into covalent bonds. These
electrons result from doping pure base material with an N type impurity. They act as current carriers in N
type semiconductor material.
majority carriers – charges deliberately introduced into semiconductors to act as current carriers.
Electrons are the majority carriers in N type material; holes are considered to be the majority carriers in P
type material.
holes – positive charges in semiconductors resulting from incomplete covalent bonds. Holes occur when
pure base material is doped with a P type impurity.
anode – the diode region doped with P (positive) type material.
cathode – the diode region doped with N (negative) material.
Zener – a diode designed to maintain a relatively constant voltage drop over a range of current flows.
Zeners are supplied in the same packages as “ordinary” diodes, but they operate in a different way.
light-emitting diodes–- (LED) a diode constructed to release energy in the form of light when supplied
with an electric current. The materials used in the construction of an LED determine the color and
brightness of the light.
bipolar transistor – a three-layer transistor constructed by NPN or PNP doping; more commonly called
junction transistors. Bipolar refers to the use of N and P doping materials.
emitter – an end region of a transistor. The emitter is doped with the same type of impurity as the
collector.
base – the center region of a transistor, between the emitter and collector. The base is always doped with
a material opposite in polarity to the emitter and collector doping. It is usually very thin.
collector – an end region of a transistor. Physically, the collector area is usually the largest area of a
transistor because it is the region where most power is dissipated.
depletion region – an area very close to PN junction where a few charges from adjoining areas tend to
cross the border and neutralize each other.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED
FACET base unit
SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit board
Two-post connectors
Terminal posts

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Semiconductor Fundamentals Introduction to Semiconductors

Semiconductor Component Identification

EXERCISE OBJECTIVE
When you have completed this exercise, you will be able to identify various semiconductor devices. You
will verify your knowledge by locating diodes and transistors on the SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit
board.

DISCUSSION
• Diodes and transistors are the two classes of semiconductors covered in this exercise.
• Diodes are generally constructed of germanium or silicon and consist of only one PN junction.
• Diodes are constructed with an anode (positive, P-type material) and a cathode (negative, N-type
material).
• Schematic diagrams for common diodes, LEDs, and zener diodes are illustrated in the exercise.
Common types of diode packaging are shown, also.
• Diodes are usually identified on schematic diagrams by the letters CR followed by a number. For
example: CR12.
• Specialized diodes, designed for specific tasks, include the Zener diode, which can maintain a
constant voltage, and the Light Emitting Diode (LED), which emits light under specific circumstances.
• Transistors belong to two major families, Field-Effect Transistors (FET) and Junction Transistors (JT).
Only junction transistors, also called bipolar transistors, are discussed in this course.
• Transistors have two PN junctions; therefore, they have three regions. Each region consists of either
N-type or P-type material. The three regions can be formed two ways: as P-type material sandwiched
between N-type material (NPN) or by N-type material sandwiched between P-type material (PNP).
• Junction transistors have a terminal (lead) connected to each of the three regions. The center region
is designated the base. The outer regions are designated emitter and collector, respectively.
• Schematic diagrams for PNP and NPN type junction transistors are illustrated in the exercise.
Transistors are usually identified by the letter Q, followed by a number, on circuit diagrams. For
example: Q2.

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Introduction to Semiconductors Semiconductor Fundamentals

Circuit Location and Identification

EXERCISE OBJECTIVE
When you have completed this exercise, you will be familiar with the functional circuit blocks on the
SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit board. You will verify your circuit knowledge by identifying the circuit
blocks and operating a transistor circuit.

DISCUSSION
• The following eight circuit blocks are present on the SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES circuit board:
DIODES AND 1/2 WAVE RECTIFICATION circuit block
FULL-WAVE RECTIFICATION WITH POWER SUPPLY FILTERS circuit block
ZENER DIODE REGULATOR circuit block
DIODE WAVESHAPING circuit block
VOLTAGE DOUBLER circuit block
TRANSISTOR JUNCTION circuit block
PNP DC BIAS circuit block
TRANSISTOR LOAD LINES AND GAIN circuit block

• The first five circuit blocks contain diode circuits only. Each block demonstrates the following diode
functions:
Block 1. diode polarity, voltage drop required for a diode to conduct, and how a diode circuit functions
as a half-wave rectifier.
Block 2. full-wave bridge rectification with and without filtering
Block 3. voltage drop characteristics of a zener diode
Block 4. clipping and clamping circuits
Block 5. ac to dc rectification resulting in an output voltage which is twice the input voltage (peak
voltage)

• The last three blocks demonstrate the following:


Block 6. forward and reverse biasing of transistors, as well as a comparison of diode and transistor
junctions
Block 7. transistors as switches
Block 8. transistor characteristics such as base-emitter voltage, base current, collector current, and
dc load lines

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Semiconductor Fundamentals Introduction to Semiconductors

NOTES

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