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Semiconductor devices are electronic components that exploit the electronic properties of semiconductor material, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices (vacuum tubes) in most applications. They use electronic conduction in the solid state as opposed to the gaseous state or thermionic emission in a high vacuum.
An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.
Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. The identification of the electron in 1897, along with the invention of the vacuum tube, which could amplify and rectify small electrical signals, inaugurated the field of electronics and the electron age.
A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a metal, like copper, gold, etc. and an insulator, such as glass. Their resistance decreases as their temperature increases, which is behaviour opposite to that of a metal. Their conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by the deliberate, controlled introduction of impurities ("doping") into the crystal structure. Where two differently-doped regions exist in the same crystal, a semiconductor junction is created. The behavior of charge carriers which include electrons, ions and electron holes at these junctions is the basis of diodes, transistors and all modern electronics. Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide. After silicon, gallium arsenide is the second most common semiconductor used in laser diodes, solar cells, microwave frequency integrated circuits, and others. Silicon is a critical element for fabricating most electronic circuits.
Semiconductor devices are manufactured both as single discrete devices and as integrated circuits (ICs), which consist of a number – from a few (as low as two) to billions – of devices manufactured and interconnected on a single semiconductor substrate, or wafer.
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, cheaper, and faster than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.
A substrate is a solid substance onto which a layer of another substance is applied, and to which that second substance adheres. In solid-state electronics, this term refers to a thin slice of material such as silicon, silicon dioxide, aluminum oxide, sapphire, germanium, gallium arsenide (GaAs), an alloy of silicon and germanium, or indium phosphide (InP). These serve as the foundation upon which electronic devices such as transistors, diodes, and especially integrated circuits (ICs) are deposited.
A wafer, also called a slice or substrate, is a thin slice of semiconductor material, such as a crystalline silicon, used in electronics for the fabrication of integrated circuits and in photovoltaics for conventional, wafer-based solar cells. The wafer serves as the substrate for microelectronic devices built in and over the wafer and undergoes many microfabrication process steps such as doping or ion implantation, etching, deposition of various materials, and photolithographic patterning. Finally, the individual microcircuits are separated (dicing) and packaged.
Semiconductor materials are useful because their behavior can be easily manipulated by the addition of impurities, known as doping. Semiconductor conductivity can be controlled by the introduction of an electric or magnetic field, by exposure to light or heat, or by the mechanical deformation of a doped monocrystalline grid; thus, semiconductors can make excellent sensors. Current conduction in a semiconductor occurs via mobile or "free" electrons and holes , collectively known as charge carriers . Doping a semiconductor such as silicon with a small proportion of an atomic impurity, such as phosphorus or boron, greatly increases the number of free electrons or holes within the semiconductor. When a doped semiconductor contains excess holes it is called "p-type", and when it contains excess free electrons it is known as "n-type", where p (positive for holes) or n (negative for electrons) is the sign of the charge of the majority mobile charge carriers. The semiconductor material used in devices is doped under highly controlled conditions in a fabrication facility, or fab , to control precisely the location and concentration of p- and n-type dopants. The junctions which form where n-type and p-type semiconductors join together are called p–n junctions.
Light is electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The word usually refers to visible light, which is the visible spectrum that is visible to the human eye and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), or 4.00 × 10−7 to 7.00 × 10−7 m, between the infrared and the ultraviolet. This wavelength means a frequency range of roughly 430–750 terahertz (THz).
Monocrystalline silicon is the base material for silicon-based discrete components and integrated circuits used in virtually all modern electronic equipment. Mono-Si also serves as a photovoltaic, light-absorbing material in the manufacture of solar cells.
In physics, chemistry, and electronic engineering, an electron hole is the lack of an electron at a position where one could exist in an atom or atomic lattice. Since in a normal atom or crystal lattice the negative charge of the electrons is balanced by the positive charge of the atomic nuclei, the absence of an electron leaves a net positive charge at the hole's location. Holes are not actually particles, but rather quasiparticles; they are different from the positron, which is the antiparticle of the electron.
Semiconductor devices made per year have been growing by 9.1% on average since 1978, and shipments in 2018 are predicted for the first time to exceed 1 trillion,meaning that well over 7 trillion has been made to date, in just in the decade prior.
A semiconductor diode is a device typically made from a single p–n junction. At the junction of a p-type and an n-type semiconductor there forms a depletion region where current conduction is inhibited by the lack of mobile charge carriers. When the device is forward biased (connected with the p-side at higher electric potential than the n-side), this depletion region is diminished, allowing for significant conduction, while only very small current can be achieved when the diode is reverse biased and thus the depletion region expanded.
In semiconductor physics, the depletion region, also called depletion layer, depletion zone, junction region, space charge region or space charge layer, is an insulating region within a conductive, doped semiconductor material where the mobile charge carriers have been diffused away, or have been forced away by an electric field. The only elements left in the depletion region are ionized donor or acceptor impurities.
An electric potential is the amount of work needed to move a unit of positive charge from a reference point to a specific point inside the field without producing an acceleration. Typically, the reference point is the Earth or a point at infinity, although any point beyond the influence of the electric field charge can be used.
Exposing a semiconductor to light can generate electron–hole pairs, which increases the number of free carriers and thereby the conductivity. Diodes optimized to take advantage of this phenomenon are known as photodiodes . Compound semiconductor diodes can also be used to generate light, as in light-emitting diodes and laser diodes.
A photodiode is a semiconductor device that converts light into an electrical current. The current is generated when photons are absorbed in the photodiode. Photodiodes may contain optical filters, built-in lenses, and may have large or small surface areas. Photodiodes usually have a slower response time as their surface area increases. The common, traditional solar cell used to generate electric solar power is a large area photodiode.
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor light source that emits light when current flows through it. Electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence. The color of the light is determined by the energy required for electrons to cross the band gap of the semiconductor. White light is obtained by using multiple semiconductors or a layer of light-emitting phosphor on the semiconductor device.
A laser diode, (LD), injection laser diode (ILD), or diode laser is a semiconductor device similar to a light-emitting diode in which the laser beam is created at the diode's junction. Laser diodes can directly convert electrical energy into light. Driven by voltage, the doped p-n-transition allows for recombination of an electron with a hole. Due to the drop of the electron from a higher energy level to a lower one, radiation, in the form of an emitted photon is generated. This is spontaneous emission. Stimulated emission can be produced when the process is continued and further generate light with the same phase, coherence and wavelength.
Bipolar junction transistors are formed from two p–n junctions, in either n–p–n or p–n–p configuration. The middle, or base, region between the junctions is typically very narrow. The other regions, and their associated terminals, are known as the emitter and the collector. A small current injected through the junction between the base and the emitter changes the properties of the base-collector junction so that it can conduct current even though it is reverse biased. This creates a much larger current between the collector and emitter, controlled by the base-emitter current.
Another type of transistor, the field-effect transistor, operates on the principle that semiconductor conductivity can be increased or decreased by the presence of an electric field. An electric field can increase the number of free electrons and holes in a semiconductor, thereby changing its conductivity. The field may be applied by a reverse-biased p–n junction, forming a junction field-effect transistor (JFET) or by an electrode insulated from the bulk material by an oxide layer, forming a metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET).
The MOSFET, a solid-state device, is the most used semiconductor device today. The gate electrode is charged to produce an electric field that controls the conductivity of a "channel" between two terminals, called the source and drain. Depending on the type of carrier in the channel, the device may be an n-channel (for electrons) or a p-channel (for holes) MOSFET. Although the MOSFET is named in part for its "metal" gate, in modern devices polysilicon is typically used instead.
By far, silicon (Si) is the most widely used material in semiconductor devices. Its combination of low raw material cost, relatively simple processing, and a useful temperature range makes it currently the best compromise among the various competing materials. Silicon used in semiconductor device manufacturing is currently fabricated into boules that are large enough in diameter to allow the production of 300 mm (12 in.) wafers.
Germanium (Ge) was a widely used early semiconductor material but its thermal sensitivity makes it less useful than silicon. Today, germanium is often alloyed with silicon for use in very-high-speed SiGe devices; IBM is a major producer of such devices.
Gallium arsenide (GaAs) is also widely used in high-speed devices but so far, it has been difficult to form large-diameter boules of this material, limiting the wafer diameter to sizes significantly smaller than silicon wafers thus making mass production of GaAs devices significantly more expensive than silicon.
Other less common materials are also in use or under investigation.
Silicon carbide (SiC) has found some application as the raw material for blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and is being investigated for use in semiconductor devices that could withstand very high operating temperatures and environments with the presence of significant levels of ionizing radiation. IMPATT diodes have also been fabricated from SiC.
Various indium compounds (indium arsenide, indium antimonide, and indium phosphide) are also being used in LEDs and solid state laser diodes. Selenium sulfide is being studied in the manufacture of photovoltaic solar cells.
The most common use for organic semiconductors is organic light-emitting diodes.
All transistor types can be used as the building blocks of logic gates, which are fundamental in the design of digital circuits. In digital circuits like microprocessors, transistors act as on-off switches; in the MOSFET, for instance, the voltage applied to the gate determines whether the switch is on or off.
Transistors used for analog circuits do not act as on-off switches; rather, they respond to a continuous range of inputs with a continuous range of outputs. Common analog circuits include amplifiers and oscillators.
Circuits that interface or translate between digital circuits and analog circuits are known as mixed-signal circuits.
Power semiconductor devices are discrete devices or integrated circuits intended for high current or high voltage applications. Power integrated circuits combine IC technology with power semiconductor technology, these are sometimes referred to as "smart" power devices. Several companies specialize in manufacturing power semiconductors.
The type designators of semiconductor devices are often manufacturer specific. Nevertheless, there have been attempts at creating standards for type codes, and a subset of devices follow those. For discrete devices, for example, there are three standards: JEDEC JESD370B in United States, Pro Electron in Europe and Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) in Japan.
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Semiconductors had been used in the electronics field for some time before the invention of the transistor. Around the turn of the 20th century they were quite common as detectors in radios, used in a device called a "cat's whisker" developed by Jagadish Chandra Bose and others. These detectors were somewhat troublesome, however, requiring the operator to move a small tungsten filament (the whisker) around the surface of a galena (lead sulfide) or carborundum (silicon carbide) crystal until it suddenly started working.Then, over a period of a few hours or days, the cat's whisker would slowly stop working and the process would have to be repeated. At the time their operation was completely mysterious. After the introduction of the more reliable and amplified vacuum tube based radios, the cat's whisker systems quickly disappeared. The "cat's whisker" is a primitive example of a special type of diode still popular today, called a Schottky diode.
Another early type of semiconductor device is the metal rectifier in which the semiconductor is copper oxide or selenium. Westinghouse Electric (1886) was a major manufacturer of these rectifiers.
During World War II, radar research quickly pushed radar receivers to operate at ever higher frequencies and the traditional tube based radio receivers no longer worked well. The introduction of the cavity magnetron from Britain to the United States in 1940 during the Tizard Mission resulted in a pressing need for a practical high-frequency amplifier.[ citation needed ]
On a whim, Russell Ohl of Bell Laboratories decided to try a cat's whisker. By this point they had not been in use for a number of years, and no one at the labs had one. After hunting one down at a used radio store in Manhattan, he found that it worked much better than tube-based systems.
Ohl investigated why the cat's whisker functioned so well. He spent most of 1939 trying to grow more pure versions of the crystals. He soon found that with higher quality crystals their finicky behaviour went away, but so did their ability to operate as a radio detector. One day he found one of his purest crystals nevertheless worked well, and it had a clearly visible crack near the middle. However as he moved about the room trying to test it, the detector would mysteriously work, and then stop again. After some study he found that the behaviour was controlled by the light in the room – more light caused more conductance in the crystal. He invited several other people to see this crystal, and Walter Brattain immediately realized there was some sort of junction at the crack.
Further research cleared up the remaining mystery. The crystal had cracked because either side contained very slightly different amounts of the impurities Ohl could not remove – about 0.2%. One side of the crystal had impurities that added extra electrons (the carriers of electric current) and made it a "conductor". The other had impurities that wanted to bind to these electrons, making it (what he called) an "insulator". Because the two parts of the crystal were in contact with each other, the electrons could be pushed out of the conductive side which had extra electrons (soon to be known as the emitter) and replaced by new ones being provided (from a battery, for instance) where they would flow into the insulating portion and be collected by the whisker filament (named the collector). However, when the voltage was reversed the electrons being pushed into the collector would quickly fill up the "holes" (the electron-needy impurities), and conduction would stop almost instantly. This junction of the two crystals (or parts of one crystal) created a solid-state diode, and the concept soon became known as semiconduction. The mechanism of action when the diode is off has to do with the separation of charge carriers around the junction. This is called a "depletion region".
Armed with the knowledge of how these new diodes worked, a vigorous effort began to learn how to build them on demand. Teams at Purdue University, Bell Labs, MIT, and the University of Chicago all joined forces to build better crystals. Within a year germanium production had been perfected to the point where military-grade diodes were being used in most radar sets.
After the war, William Shockley decided to attempt the building of a triode-like semiconductor device. He secured funding and lab space, and went to work on the problem with Brattain and John Bardeen.
The key to the development of the transistor was the further understanding of the process of the electron mobility in a semiconductor. It was realized that if there were some way to control the flow of the electrons from the emitter to the collector of this newly discovered diode, an amplifier could be built. For instance, if contacts are placed on both sides of a single type of crystal, current will not flow between them through the crystal. However if a third contact could then "inject" electrons or holes into the material, current would flow.
Actually doing this appeared to be very difficult. If the crystal were of any reasonable size, the number of electrons (or holes) required to be injected would have to be very large, making it less than useful as an amplifier because it would require a large injection current to start with. That said, the whole idea of the crystal diode was that the crystal itself could provide the electrons over a very small distance, the depletion region. The key appeared to be to place the input and output contacts very close together on the surface of the crystal on either side of this region.
Brattain started working on building such a device, and tantalizing hints of amplification continued to appear as the team worked on the problem. Sometimes the system would work but then stop working unexpectedly. In one instance a non-working system started working when placed in water. Ohl and Brattain eventually developed a new branch of quantum mechanics, which became known as surface physics, to account for the behaviour. The electrons in any one piece of the crystal would migrate about due to nearby charges. Electrons in the emitters, or the "holes" in the collectors, would cluster at the surface of the crystal where they could find their opposite charge "floating around" in the air (or water). Yet they could be pushed away from the surface with the application of a small amount of charge from any other location on the crystal. Instead of needing a large supply of injected electrons, a very small number in the right place on the crystal would accomplish the same thing.
Their understanding solved the problem of needing a very small control area to some degree. Instead of needing two separate semiconductors connected by a common, but tiny, region, a single larger surface would serve. The electron-emitting and collecting leads would both be placed very close together on the top, with the control lead placed on the base of the crystal. When current flowed through this "base" lead, the electrons or holes would be pushed out, across the block of semiconductor, and collect on the far surface. As long as the emitter and collector were very close together, this should allow enough electrons or holes between them to allow conduction to start.
The Bell team made many attempts to build such a system with various tools, but generally failed. Setups where the contacts were close enough were invariably as fragile as the original cat's whisker detectors had been, and would work briefly, if at all. Eventually they had a practical breakthrough. A piece of gold foil was glued to the edge of a plastic wedge, and then the foil was sliced with a razor at the tip of the triangle. The result was two very closely spaced contacts of gold. When the wedge was pushed down onto the surface of a crystal and voltage applied to the other side (on the base of the crystal), current started to flow from one contact to the other as the base voltage pushed the electrons away from the base towards the other side near the contacts. The point-contact transistor had been invented.
While the device was constructed a week earlier, Brattain's notes describe the first demonstration to higher-ups at Bell Labs on the afternoon of 23 December 1947, often given as the birthdate of the transistor. What is now known as the "p–n–p point-contact germanium transistor" operated as a speech amplifier with a power gain of 18 in that trial. John Bardeen, Walter Houser Brattain, and William Bradford Shockley were awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
Bell Telephone Laboratories needed a generic name for their new invention: "Semiconductor Triode", "Solid Triode", "Surface States Triode"[ sic ], "Crystal Triode" and "Iotatron" were all considered, but "transistor", coined by John R. Pierce, won an internal ballot. The rationale for the name is described in the following extract from the company's Technical Memoranda (May 28, 1948)  calling for votes:
Transistor. This is an abbreviated combination of the words "transconductance" or "transfer", and "varistor". The device logically belongs in the varistor family, and has the transconductance or transfer impedance of a device having gain, so that this combination is descriptive.
Shockley was upset about the device being credited to Brattain and Bardeen, who he felt had built it "behind his back" to take the glory. Matters became worse when Bell Labs lawyers found that some of Shockley's own writings on the transistor were close enough to those of an earlier 1925 patent by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld that they thought it best that his name be left off the patent application.
Shockley was incensed, and decided to demonstrate who was the real brains of the operation.[ citation needed ] A few months later he invented an entirely new, considerably more robust, type of transistor with a layer or 'sandwich' structure. This structure went on to be used for the vast majority of all transistors into the 1960s, and evolved into the bipolar junction transistor.
With the fragility problems solved, a remaining problem was purity. Making germanium of the required purity was proving to be a serious problem, and limited the yield of transistors that actually worked from a given batch of material. Germanium's sensitivity to temperature also limited its usefulness. Scientists theorized that silicon would be easier to fabricate, but few investigated this possibility. Gordon K. Teal was the first to develop a working silicon transistor, and his company, the nascent Texas Instruments, profited from its technological edge. From the late 1960s most transistors were silicon-based. Within a few years transistor-based products, most notably easily portable radios, were appearing on the market.
The static induction transistor, the first high frequency transistor, was invented by Japanese engineers Jun-ichi Nishizawa and Y. Watanabe in 1950.It was the fastest transistor through to the 1980s.
A major improvement in manufacturing yield came when a chemist advised the companies fabricating semiconductors to use distilled rather than tap water: calcium ions present in tap water were the cause of the poor yields. "Zone melting", a technique using a band of molten material moving through the crystal, further increased crystal purity.
A diode is a two-terminal electronic component that conducts current primarily in one direction ; it has low resistance in one direction, and high resistance in the other. A diode vacuum tube or thermionic diode is a vacuum tube with two electrodes, a heated cathode and a plate, in which electrons can flow in only one direction, from cathode to plate. A semiconductor diode, the most common type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor material with a p–n junction connected to two electrical terminals. Semiconductor diodes were the first semiconductor electronic devices. The discovery of asymmetric electrical conduction across the contact between a crystalline mineral and a metal was made by German physicist Ferdinand Braun in 1874. Today, most diodes are made of silicon, but other materials such as gallium arsenide and germanium are used.
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.
A bipolar junction transistor is a type of transistor that uses both electron and hole charge carriers. In contrast, unipolar transistors, such as field-effect transistors, only use one kind of charge carrier. For their operation, BJTs use two junctions between two semiconductor types, n-type and p-type.
The Schottky diode, also known as Schottky barrier diode or hot-carrier diode, is a semiconductor diode formed by the junction of a semiconductor with a metal. It has a low forward voltage drop and a very fast switching action. The cat's-whisker detectors used in the early days of wireless and metal rectifiers used in early power applications can be considered primitive Schottky diodes.
Pro Electron or EECA is the European type designation and registration system for active components.
A tunnel diode or Esaki diode is a type of semiconductor diode that has negative resistance due to the quantum mechanical effect called tunneling. It was invented in August 1957 by Leo Esaki, Yuriko Kurose, and Takashi Suzuki when they were working at Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, now known as Sony. In 1973, Esaki received the Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Brian Josephson, for discovering the electron tunneling effect used in these diodes. Robert Noyce independently devised the idea of a tunnel diode while working for William Shockley, but was discouraged from pursuing it. Tunnel diodes were first manufactured by Sony in 1957, followed by General Electric and other companies from about 1960, and are still made in low volume today.
This article is about ionizing radiation detectors. For information about semiconductor detectors in radio, see Detector (radio), Crystal detector, Diode#Semiconductor diodes, and Rectifier.
A power semiconductor device is a semiconductor device used as a switch or rectifier in power electronics. Such a device is also called a power device or, when used in an integrated circuit, a power IC.
A High-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT), also known as heterostructure FET (HFET) or modulation-doped FET (MODFET), is a field-effect transistor incorporating a junction between two materials with different band gaps as the channel instead of a doped region. A commonly used material combination is GaAs with AlGaAs, though there is wide variation, dependent on the application of the device. Devices incorporating more indium generally show better high-frequency performance, while in recent years, gallium nitride HEMTs have attracted attention due to their high-power performance. Like other FETs, HEMTs are used in integrated circuits as digital on-off switches. FETs can also be used as amplifiers for large amounts of current using a small voltage as a control signal. Both of these uses are made possible by the FET’s unique current-voltage characteristics. HEMT transistors are able to operate at higher frequencies than ordinary transistors, up to millimeter wave frequencies, and are used in high-frequency products such as cell phones, satellite television receivers, voltage converters, and radar equipment. They are widely used in satellite receivers, in low power amplifiers and in the defense industry.
In semiconductor production, doping is the intentional introduction of impurities into an intrinsic semiconductor for the purpose of modulating its electrical, optical and structural properties. The doped material is referred to as an extrinsic semiconductor. A semiconductor doped to such high levels that it acts more like a conductor than a semiconductor is referred to as a degenerate semiconductor.
Russell Shoemaker Ohl was an American engineer who is generally recognized for patenting the modern solar cell . Ohl was a notable semiconductor researcher prior to the invention of the transistor. He was also known as R.S. Ohl.
The point-contact transistor was the first type of transistor to be successfully demonstrated. It was developed by research scientists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain at Bell Laboratories in December 1947. They worked in a group led by physicist William Shockley. The group had been working together on experiments and theories of electric field effects in solid state materials, with the aim of replacing vacuum tubes with a smaller device that consumed less power.
A crystal detector is an obsolete electronic component in some early 20th century radio receivers that used a piece of crystalline mineral as a detector (demodulator) to rectify the alternating current radio signal to extract the audio modulation which produced the sound in the earphones. It was the first type of semiconductor diode, and one of the first semiconductor electronic devices. The most common type was the so-called cat whisker detector, which consisted of a piece of crystalline mineral, usually galena, with a fine wire touching its surface. The "asymmetric conduction" of electric current across electrical contacts between a crystal and a metal was discovered in 1874 by Karl Ferdinand Braun. Crystals were first used as radio wave detectors in 1894 by Jagadish Chandra Bose in his microwave experiments. who first patented a crystal detector in 1901. The crystal detector was developed into a practical radio component mainly by G. W. Pickard, who began research on detector materials in 1902 and found hundreds of substances that could be used in forming rectifying junctions. The physical principles by which they worked were not understood at the time they were used, but subsequent research into these primitive point contact semiconductor junctions in the 1930s and 1940s led to the development of modern semiconductor electronics.
Capacitance–voltage profiling is a technique for characterizing semiconductor materials and devices. The applied voltage is varied, and the capacitance is measured and plotted as a function of voltage. The technique uses a metal–semiconductor junction or a p–n junction or a MOSFET to create a depletion region, a region which is empty of conducting electrons and holes, but may contain ionized donors and electrically active defects or traps. The depletion region with its ionized charges inside behaves like a capacitor. By varying the voltage applied to the junction it is possible to vary the depletion width. The dependence of the depletion width upon the applied voltage provides information on the semiconductor's internal characteristics, such as its doping profile and electrically active defect densities., Measurements may be done at DC, or using both DC and a small-signal AC signal, or using a large-signal transient voltage.
An extrinsic semiconductor is one that has been doped; during manufacture of the semiconductor crystal a trace element or chemical called a doping agent has been incorporated chemically into the crystal, for the purpose of giving it different electrical properties than the pure semiconductor crystal, which is called an intrinsic semiconductor. In an extrinsic semiconductor it is these foreign dopant atoms in the crystal lattice that mainly provide the charge carriers which carry electric current through the crystal. The doping agents used are of two types, resulting in two types of extrinsic semiconductor. An electron donor dopant is an atom which, when incorporated in the crystal, releases a mobile conduction electron into the crystal lattice. An extrinsic semiconductor which has been doped with electron donor atoms is called an n-type semiconductor, because the majority of charge carriers in the crystal are negative electrons. An electron acceptor dopant is an atom which accepts an electron from the lattice, creating a vacancy where an electron should be called a hole which can move through the crystal like a positively charged particle. An extrinsic semiconductor which has been doped with electron acceptor atoms is called a p-type semiconductor, because the majority of charge carriers in the crystal are positive holes.
A transistor is a semiconductor device with at least three terminals for connection to an electric circuit. The vacuum-tube triode, also called a (thermionic) valve, was the transistor's precursor, introduced in 1907.
In solid-state physics, a metal–semiconductor (M–S) junction is a type of junction in which a metal comes in close contact with a semiconductor material. It is the oldest practical semiconductor device. M–S junctions can either be rectifying or non-rectifying. The rectifying metal–semiconductor junction forms a Schottky barrier, making a device known as a Schottky diode, while the non-rectifying junction is called an ohmic contact.
William Gardner Pfann was an inventor and materials scientist with Bell Labs. Pfann is known for his development of zone melting which is essential to the semiconductor industry. As stated in an official history of Bell Labs, "Timely invention of zone refining by W.G.Pfann ... was a major contribution that helped bring the impurities in germanium and silicon under control."
The field-effect transistor (FET) is an electronic device which uses an electric field to control the flow of current. This is achieved by the application of a voltage to the gate terminal, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source terminals.
Annual semiconductor unit shipments (integrated circuits and opto-sensor-discretes, or O-S-D, devices) are expected to grow 9% [..] For 2018, semiconductor unit shipments are forecast to climb to 1,075.1 billion, which equates to 9% growth for the year. Starting in 1978 with 32.6 billion units and going through 2018, the compound annual growth rate for semiconductor units is forecast to be 9.1%, a solid growth figure over the 40 year span. [..] In 2018, O-S-D devices are forecast to account for 70% of total semiconductor units compared to 30% for ICs.