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Semiconductors

Basic Properties

Band Structure
Eg = energy gap Silicon ~ 1.17 eV Ge ~ 0.66 eV

Intrinsic Semiconductors
Pure Si, Ge are intrinsic semiconductors. Some electrons elevated to conduction band

by thermal energy.

Fermi-Dirac Distribution

The probability that a particular energy state is filled

is just the F-D distribution. For intrinsic conductors at room temperature the chemical potential, , is approximately equal to the Fermi Energy, EF. The Fermi Energy is in the middle of the band gap.

Conduction Electrons
If - EF >> kT then

If we measure from the top of the valence band

and remember that EF lies in the middle of the band gap then

Conduction Electrons
A full analysis taking into account the

number of states per energy (density of states) gives an estimate for the fraction of electrons in the conduction band of

Electrons and Holes


When an electron in the valence band is

excited into the conduction band it leaves behind a hole.

Holes
The holes act like positive charge carriers in

the valence band.


Electric Field

Holes
In terms of energy level electrons tend to

fall into lower energy states which means that the holes tends to rise to the top of the valence band.

Photon Excitations
Photons can excite electrons into the

conduction band as well as thermal fluctuations

Impurity Semiconductors
An impurity is introduced into a

semiconductor (doping) to change its electronic properties. n-type have impurities with one more valence electron than the semiconductor. p-type have impurities with one fewer valence electron than the semiconductor.

Impurities
For silicon n-type is pentavalent: As, P p-type is trivalent: Al, Ga, B

Impurity Semiconductors
n-type

Impurity Semiconductors
p-type

Band Structure of N-type


Conduction band
Fermi Energy Donor impurity levels

Valence band

For Si(As): Econduction - Edonor = 0.049 eV

T = 0K

Band Structure of N-type


Conduction band
Fermi Energy Donor impurity levels

Valence band

For Si(As): Econduction - Edonor = 0.049 eV

T = 300 K

Remember kT = 0.025 eV

Band Structure of P-type


Conduction band
Acceptor impurity levels Fermi Energy For Si(Ga): Eacceptor - Edvalence = 0.065 eV

Valence band

T=0K

Band Structure of P-type


Conduction band
Acceptor impurity levels Fermi Energy For Si(Ga): Eacceptor - Edvalence = 0.065 eV

Valence band

T = 300 K

Remember kT = 0.025 eV

The pn junction

Forming a pn junction
p-type and n-type semiconductors are placed in contact. electrons in the conduction band in the n-type diffuse across

the junction into the p-type.


Conduction band Conduction band

p
Valence band Valence band

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Forming a pn junction
p-type and n-type semiconductors are placed in contact electrons in the conduction band in the n-type diffuse across

the junction into the p-type.


Conduction band Conduction band

p
Valence band Valence band

Forming a pn junction

once in the p-type they can drop down into the valence band and to fill up one of the hole states.

Conduction band

Conduction band

p
Valence band Valence band

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Forming a pn junction

once in the p-type they can drop down into the valence band and to fill up one of the hole states.

Conduction band

Conduction band

p
Valence band Valence band

Forming a pn junction
Electrons continue to diffuse across the junction. The area of the p-type near the junction becomes more

negative due to the excess electrons while the n-type becomes more positive due to the excess of holes (or deficit of electrons). This creates an electric field in the region of the junction that eventually prevents any further significant diffusion of electrons. This region is essentially free of mobile charge carriers and is called the depletion region.

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Depletion Region
The depletion region is free of mobile charge carriers. The typical thickness of the depletion region is about

1 micron or 10-4 cm.


---------

+++ +++ +++ +++

Depletion region: Mobile holes and electrons have combined leaving charged ions.

Formation of the depletion region


1 2

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Depletion Region Characteristics


The fixed charges in the depletion region create an electric

field that points from the n-type to the p-type. This field tends to sweep any mobile electrons in the region back to the n-type and any mobile holes back to the p-type.
Depletion region

= mobile hole

+ +

+ + + +

+ + + +

+ + + +

+ + + +

= mobile electron

Ed +
+

= fixed ionized donor atom = fixed ionized acceptor atom

Energy Diagram for pn junction

In equilibrium the Fermi energy must be the same everywhere, otherwise electrons could reduce the energy of the system by flowing to unoccupied states in a region of lower Fermi energy.
Electron Energy Conduction band

EF

+ + + +

Valence band

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Energy Diagram for pn junction


The potential energy difference between the two sides of the

junction is given by electric field in the depletion region.


Conduction band

Electron Energy

EF

+ + + +

Valence band

Equilibrium Currents for pn junction


In equilibrium there are still small currents flowing across

the junction though there is no net electron current.


Thermal Current Recombination Current Conduction band Electron Energy

EF

+ + + +

Valence band

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Thermal Current

Electrons in the valence band of the p-type can acquire enough thermal energy to jump into the conduction band. They diffuse into the depletion region and are swept into n-type by the E-field.
Electron Energy Conduction band

EF

+ + + +

Valence band

Recombination Current

Electrons in the conduction band of the n-type can acquire enough thermal energy to rise higher in the conduction band. They can then diffuse across the depletion region to the p-type and drop into the valence band filling a hole.
Electron Energy Conduction band

EF

+ + + +

Valence band

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Currents in equilibrium pn junctions


The thermal current cancels out the recombination

current in the equilibrium state. The thermal current is dependent on the width of the energy gap in the semiconductor and the temperature. The recombination current is dependent on E, the size of energy difference between the p-type and n-type bands and the temperature.

Biasing pn junctions
Apply a voltage across a pn junction:

p +

p +

V Forward Bias

V Reverse Bias

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Reverse bias
A negative voltage is applied to the p-region. The

energy of the electrons in the p-region will increase. The potential energy difference between the two regions will increase by (-e)(-V) = eV This will reduce the recombination current which depends on the potential difference but leave the thermal current unchanged. A small net electron current will flow from p to n.

Reverse bias
The increase in the potential energy difference reduces the

recombination current.

Electron Energy

Thermal current

Conduction band

EF

Recombination current + + + +

E + eV

Valence band

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Forward bias
A positive voltage is applied to the p-region. The

energy of the electrons in the p-region will decrease. The potential energy difference between the two regions will be reduced: (-e)(V) = -eV This will greatly increase the recombination current which depends on the potential difference but leave the thermal current unchanged. A large net electron current will flow from n to p.

Forward bias
The increase in the potential energy difference greatly

increases the recombination current.


Thermal current

Electron Energy

Recombination current
Conduction band

EF


Valence band

+ + + +

E - eV

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Biased pn junction
In terms of positive current the current vs.

voltage graph for a biased pn junction:

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