You are on page 1of 8

Introduction to

Semiconductor Fundamentals
Semiconductors have a band gap energy of about 1 eV
– Silicon 1.10 eV
– GaAs 1.43 eV
– Ge 0.66 eV
– InP 1.33 eV
– GaP 2.10 eV
• An electron that has sufficient energy and is adjacent to an
empty state may move into the empty state, leaving an empty
state behind.
• Moving empty states can give the appearance that positive
charges move through the material.
• This moving empty state is modeled as a positively charged
particle called a hole.
• In semiconductors, two types of “particles” contribute to the
current: positively charged holes and negatively charged
Intrinsic Semiconductors
• Definition – An intrinsic semiconductor is a single crystal
semiconductor with no other types of atoms in the crystal.
– Pure silicon
– Pure germanium

• In an intrinsic semiconductor, the number of holes and free

electrons are the same because they are thermally generated.

• If an electron breaks its covalent bond we have one free

electron and one hole.

• In an intrinsic semiconductor, the concentration of holes

and free electrons are the same.
Extrinsic Semiconductors
Extrinsic Semiconductors
• Since the concentrations of free electrons and holes is small
in an intrinsic semiconductor, only small currents are possible.
• Impurities can be added to the semiconductor to increase
the concentration of free electrons and holes
• An impurity would have one less or one more electron in
the valance shell than silicon.
• Impurities for group 4 type atoms (silicon) would come from
group 3 or group 5 elements.
• The most common group 5 elements are phosphorous and
• The group 5 atom is called a donor impurity since
it donates a free electron.
• A semiconductor doped with donor impurities
has excess free electron and is called an n-type
Extrinsic Semiconductor
• The most common group 3 impurity is boron which has 3
valence electrons.
• Since boron has only 3 valence electrons, the boron atom
can only bond with three of its neighbors leaving one open
bond position.
• Since boron accepts a valence electron, it is called an
acceptor impurity.
• Acceptor impurities create excess holes but do not create
free electrons.
• A semiconductor doped with an acceptor impurity has
extra holes and is called a p-type semiconductor.
Compound Semiconductors
• Compound semiconductors are elements of different group
from periodic table.
• Attractive feature of the binary compounds is that they can
be combined or alloyed to from ternary or quaternary
• By choosing different binary compounds, it is possible to
select different bandgap.
Indium gallium arsenide InGaAs 0.36–1.43

Indium gallium phosphide InGaP 1.35–2.26

Aluminium gallium indium phosphide AlGaInP

Aluminium gallium arsenide phosphide AlGaAsP

Compound Semiconductors
Material Direct / Indirect Bandgap Band Gap Energy at
300 K (eV)

Elements C (diamond) Indirect 5.47

Ge Indirect 0.66
Si Indirect 1.12
Sn (grey) Direct 0.08
Groups III-V GaAs Direct 1.42
compounds InAs Direct 0.36
InSb Direct 0.17
GaP Indirect 2.26
GaN Direct 3.36
InN Direct 0.70
Groups IV-IV α-SiC Indirect 2.99
Groups II-VI ZnO Direct 3.35
compounds CdSe Direct 1.70
ZnS Direct 3.68