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Review of Semiconductor

Physics, PN Junction Diodes

and Resistors
 Semiconductor fundamentals
 Doping
 Pn junction
 The Diode Equation
 Zener diode
 Resistors
What Is a Semiconductor?

•Many materials, such as most metals, allow electrical current to

flow through them
•These are known as conductors
•Materials that do not allow electrical current to flow through
them are called insulators
•Pure silicon, the base material of most transistors, is considered
a semiconductor because its conductivity can be modulated by
the introduction of impurities
 A material whose properties are such that it is not quite a
conductor, not quite an insulator
 Some common semiconductors
– elemental
» Si - Silicon (most common)
» Ge - Germanium
– compound
» GaAs - Gallium arsenide
» GaP - Gallium phosphide
» AlAs - Aluminum arsenide
» AlP - Aluminum phosphide
» InP - Indium Phosphide
Crystalline Solids

 In a crystalline solid, the periodic arrangement of atoms is

repeated over the entire crystal
 Silicon crystal has a diamond lattice
Crystalline Nature of Silicon
 Silicon as utilized in integrated circuits is crystalline in nature
 As with all crystalline material, silicon consists of a repeating
basic unit structure called a unit cell
 For silicon, the unit cell consists of an atom surrounded by four
equidistant nearest neighbors which lie at the corners of the
What’s so special about Silicon?
Cheap and abundant
Amazing mechanical, chemical and
electronic properties
The material is very well-known to
SiO2: sand, glass
Si is column IV of the
periodic table
Similar to the carbon
(C) and the
germanium (Ge)
Has 3s² and 3p²
valence electrons
Nature of Intrinsic Silicon
 Silicon that is free of doping impurities is called
 Silicon has a valence of 4 and forms covalent
bonds with four other neighboring silicon atoms
Semiconductor Crystalline Structure
 Semiconductors have a regular
crystalline structure
– for monocrystal, extends
through entire structure
– for polycrystal, structure is
interrupted at irregular
 Monocrystal has uniform 3-
dimensional structure
 Atoms occupy fixed positions
relative to one another, but
are in constant vibration about
Semiconductor Crystalline Structure
 Silicon atoms have 4
electrons in outer shell
– inner electrons are very
closely bound to atom
 These electrons are shared
with neighbor atoms on
both sides to “fill” the shell
– resulting structure is
very stable
– electrons are fairly
tightly bound
» no “loose” electrons
– at room temperature, if
battery applied, very
little electric current
Conduction in Crystal Lattices
 Semiconductors (Si and Ge) have 4 electrons in their outer shell
– 2 in the s subshell
– 2 in the p subshell
 As the distance between atoms decreases the discrete subshells
spread out into bands
 As the distance decreases further, the bands overlap and then
– the subshell model doesn’t hold anymore, and the electrons
can be thought of as being part of the crystal, not part of the
– 4 possible electrons in the lower band (valence band)
– 4 possible electrons in the upper band (conduction band)
Energy Bands in Semiconductors
 The space
between the
bands is the
energy gap, or
forbidden band
Insulators, Semiconductors, and Metals
 This separation of the valence and conduction bands determines
the electrical properties of the material
 Insulators have a large energy gap
– electrons can’t jump from valence to conduction bands
– no current flows
 Conductors (metals) have a very small (or nonexistent) energy gap
– electrons easily jump to conduction bands due to thermal
– current flows easily
 Semiconductors have a moderate energy gap
– only a few electrons can jump to the conduction band
» leaving “holes”
– only a little current can flow
Insulators, Semiconductors, and Metals



Conductor Semiconductor Insulator

Hole - Electron Pairs
 Sometimes thermal energy is enough to cause an electron to
jump from the valence band to the conduction band
– produces a hole - electron pair
 Electrons also “fall” back out of the conduction band into the
valence band, combining with a hole

pair elimination pair creation

hole electron
Improving Conduction by Doping
 To make semiconductors better conductors, add impurities
(dopants) to contribute extra electrons or extra holes
– elements with 5 outer electrons contribute an extra electron to
the lattice (donor dopant)
– elements with 3 outer electrons accept an electron from the
silicon (acceptor dopant)
Improving Conduction by Doping
 Phosphorus and arsenic are
donor dopants
– if phosphorus is
introduced into the silicon
lattice, there is an extra
electron “free” to move
around and contribute to
electric current
» very loosely bound to
atom and can easily jump
to conduction band
– produces n type silicon
» sometimes use + symbol
to indicate heavier
doping, so n+ silicon
– phosphorus becomes
positive ion after giving up
Improving Conduction by Doping
 Boron has 3 electrons in its outer
shell, so it contributes a hole if it
displaces a silicon atom
– boron is an acceptor dopant
– yields p type silicon
– boron becomes negative ion
after accepting an electron
Growth of
 Epitaxy grows silicon on top of
existing silicon
– uses chemical vapor
– new silicon has same
crystal structure as
 Silicon is placed in chamber at
high temperature
– 1200 o C (2150 o F)
 Appropriate gases are fed into
the chamber
– other gases add
impurities to the mix
 Can grow n type, then switch to
p type very quickly
Diffusion of Dopants
 It is also possible to introduce
dopants into silicon by heating top
them so they diffuse into the
– no new silicon is added
– high heat causes diffusion
 Can be done with constant
concentration in atmosphere
– close to straight line
concentration gradient
 Or with constant number of atoms
per unit area
– predeposition side
– bell-shaped gradient
 Diffusion causes spreading of
doped areas
Diffusion of Dopants (continued)

Concentration of dopant in
surrounding atmosphere kept Dopant deposited on
constant per unit volume surface - constant
amount per unit area
Ion Implantation of Dopants
 One way to reduce the spreading found with diffusion is to use ion
– also gives better uniformity of dopant
– yields faster devices
– lower temperature process
 Ions are accelerated from 5 Kev to 10 Mev and directed at silicon
– higher energy gives greater depth penetration
– total dose is measured by flux
» number of ions per cm2
» typically 1012 per cm2 - 1016 per cm2
 Flux is over entire surface of silicon
– use masks to cover areas where implantation is not wanted
 Heat afterward to work into crystal lattice
Hole and Electron Concentrations
 To produce reasonable levels of conduction doesn’t
require much doping
– silicon has about 5 x 1022 atoms/cm3
– typical dopant levels are about 1015 atoms/cm3
 In undoped (intrinsic) silicon, the number of holes and
number of free electrons is equal, and their product
equals a constant
– actually, ni increases with increasing temperature
np = ni2
 This equation holds true for doped silicon as well, so
increasing the number of free electrons decreases the
number of holes

At 0 Kelvin Silicon

density is 5*10²³ particles/cm³
Silicon has 4 valence
electrons, it covalently bonds
with four adjacent atoms in
Higher temperatures create the crystal lattice
free charge carriers.
A “hole” is created in the
absence of an electron.
At 23C there are 10¹º
particles/cm³ of free carriers
There are two types of doping
N-type and P-type.

The N in N-type stands for negative.

A column V ion is inserted.
The extra valence electron is free to
move about the lattice

The P in P-type stands for positive.

A column III ion is inserted.
Electrons from the surrounding
Silicon move to fill the “hole.”
Energy-band Diagram
 A very important concept in the study of semiconductors is the
energy-band diagram
 It is used to represent the range of energy a valence electron can
 For semiconductors the electrons can have any one value of a
continuous range of energy levels while they occupy the valence
shell of the atom
– That band of energy levels is called the valence band
 Within the same valence shell, but at a slightly higher energy
level, is yet another band of continuously variable, allowed energy
– This is the conduction band
Band Gap
 Between the valence and the conduction band is a range of energy
levels where there are no allowed states for an electron
 This is the band gap E G
 In silicon at room temperature [in electron volts]: E G  11
. eV
 Electron volt is an atomic measurement unit, 1 eV energy is
necessary to decrease of the potential of the electron with 1 V.

1eV  1.602  10 19 joule

 Silicon crystal in pure form is
good insulator - all electrons are
bonded to silicon atom
 Replacement of Si atoms can alter
electrical properties of
 Group number - indicates number
of electrons in valence level (Si -
Group IV)
 Replace Si atom in crystal with Group V atom
– substitution of 5 electrons for 4 electrons in outer shell
– extra electron not needed for crystal bonding structure
» can move to other areas of semiconductor
» current flows more easily - resistivity decreases
» many extra electrons --> “donor” or n-type material
 Replace Si atom with Group III atom
– substitution of 3 electrons for 4 electrons
– extra electron now needed for crystal bonding structure
» “hole” created (missing electron)
» hole can move to other areas of semiconductor if electrons continually
fill holes
» again, current flows more easily - resistivity decreases
» electrons needed --> “acceptor” or p-type material

Insert more than one

type of Ion
The extra electron and
the extra hole cancel out
n= number of free electrons
p=number of holes
ni=number of electrons in intrinsic silicon=10¹º/cm³
pi-number of holes in intrinsic silicon= 10¹º/cm³
Mobile negative charge = -1.6*10-19 Coulombs
Mobile positive charge = 1.6*10-19 Coulombs
At thermal equilibrium (no applied voltage) n*p=(ni)2
(room temperature approximation)
The substrate is called n-type when it has more than 10¹º free
electrons (similar for p-type)
P-N Junction

 Also known as a diode

 One of the basics of semiconductor technology -
 Created by placing n-type and p-type material in close
 Diffusion - mobile charges (holes) in p-type combine with
mobile charges (electrons) in n-type
P-N Junction
 Region of charges left behind (dopants fixed in crystal
– Group III in p-type (one less proton than Si- negative
– Group IV in n-type (one more proton than Si - positive
 Region is totally depleted of mobile charges - “depletion
– Electric field forms due to fixed charges in the depletion
– Depletion region has high resistance due to lack of mobile
The Junction

The “potential” or voltage across

the silicon changes in the depletion
region and goes from + in the n
region to – in the p region
Biasing the P-N Diode DIODE AS A

Forward Bias Reverse Bias

Applies - voltage Applies + voltage to
to the n region n region and –
and + voltage to voltage to p region
the p region
P-N Junction – Reverse Bias
 positive voltage placed on n-type material
 electrons in n-type move closer to positive terminal, holes
in p-type move closer to negative terminal
 width of depletion region increases
 allowed current is essentially zero (small “drift” current)
P-N Junction – Forward Bias
 positive voltage placed on p-type material
 holes in p-type move away from positive terminal, electrons in n-
type move further from negative terminal
 depletion region becomes smaller - resistance of device decreases
 voltage increased until critical voltage is reached, depletion region
disappears, current can flow freely
P-N Junction - V-I characteristics

Voltage-Current relationship for a p-n junction (diode)

Current-Voltage Characteristics


Positive voltage yields

finite current
Negative voltage yields REAL DIODE
zero current
The Ideal Diode Equation

  qV  
I  I 0  exp   1 ,
  kT  
I 0  diode current with reverse bias
q  1602
.  10 19 coulomb , the electronic ch arg e
5 eV
k  8.62  10 , Boltzmann' s cons tan t
Semiconductor diode - opened region
 The p-side is the cathode, the n-side is the anode
 The dropped voltage, VD is measured from the cathode
to the anode

 Opened: VD  VF:
ID = circuit limited, in our model the VD cannot exceed VF
Semiconductor diode - cut-off region

 Cut-off: 0 < VD < VF:

ID  0 mA
Semiconductor diode - closed region

 Closed: VF < VD  0:
– VD is determined by the circuit, ID = 0 mA
 Typical values of VF: 0.5 ¸ 0.7 V
Zener Effect
 Zener break down: VD <= VZ:
VD = VZ, ID is determined by the circuit.
 In case of standard diode the typical values of the break
down voltage VZ of the Zener effect -20 ... -100 V
 Zener diode
– Utilization of the Zener effect
– Typical break down values of VZ : -4.5 ... -15 V

 Light emitting diode, made from GaAs

– VF=1.6 V

– IF >= 6 mA
Resistor in an Integrated Circuit