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 Page 1


14.1  INTRODUCTION
Devices in which a controlled flow of electrons can be obtained are the
basic building blocks of all the electronic circuits. Before the discovery of
transistor in 1948, such devices were mostly vacuum tubes (also called
valves) like the vacuum diode which has two electrodes, viz., anode (often
called plate) and cathode; triode which has three electrodes – cathode,
plate and grid; tetrode and pentode (respectively with 4 and 5 electrodes).
In a vacuum tube, the electrons are supplied by a heated cathode and
the controlled flow of these electrons in vacuum is obtained by varying
the voltage between its different electrodes. Vacuum is required in the
inter-electrode space; otherwise the moving electrons may lose their
energy on collision with the air molecules in their path. In these devices
the electrons can flow only from the cathode to the anode (i.e., only in one
direction). Therefore, such devices are generally referred to as valves.
These vacuum tube devices are bulky, consume high power, operate
generally at high voltages (~100 V) and have limited life and low reliability.
The seed of the development of modern solid-state semiconductor
electronics goes back to 1930’s when it was realised that some solid-
state semiconductors and their junctions offer the possibility of controlling
the number and the direction of flow of charge carriers through them.
Simple excitations like light, heat or small applied voltage can change
the number of mobile charges in a semiconductor. Note that the supply
Chapter Fourteen
SEMICONDUCTOR
ELECTRONICS:
MATERIALS, DEVICES
AND SIMPLE CIRCUITS
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 2


14.1  INTRODUCTION
Devices in which a controlled flow of electrons can be obtained are the
basic building blocks of all the electronic circuits. Before the discovery of
transistor in 1948, such devices were mostly vacuum tubes (also called
valves) like the vacuum diode which has two electrodes, viz., anode (often
called plate) and cathode; triode which has three electrodes – cathode,
plate and grid; tetrode and pentode (respectively with 4 and 5 electrodes).
In a vacuum tube, the electrons are supplied by a heated cathode and
the controlled flow of these electrons in vacuum is obtained by varying
the voltage between its different electrodes. Vacuum is required in the
inter-electrode space; otherwise the moving electrons may lose their
energy on collision with the air molecules in their path. In these devices
the electrons can flow only from the cathode to the anode (i.e., only in one
direction). Therefore, such devices are generally referred to as valves.
These vacuum tube devices are bulky, consume high power, operate
generally at high voltages (~100 V) and have limited life and low reliability.
The seed of the development of modern solid-state semiconductor
electronics goes back to 1930’s when it was realised that some solid-
state semiconductors and their junctions offer the possibility of controlling
the number and the direction of flow of charge carriers through them.
Simple excitations like light, heat or small applied voltage can change
the number of mobile charges in a semiconductor. Note that the supply
Chapter Fourteen
SEMICONDUCTOR
ELECTRONICS:
MATERIALS, DEVICES
AND SIMPLE CIRCUITS
Rationalised 2023-24
Physics
324
and flow of charge carriers in the semiconductor devices are within the
solid itself, while in the earlier vacuum tubes/valves, the mobile electrons
were obtained from a heated cathode and they were made to flow in an
evacuated space or vacuum. No external heating or large evacuated space
is required by the semiconductor devices. They are small in size, consume
low power, operate at low voltages and have long life and high reliability.
Even the Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) used in television and computer
monitors which work on the principle of vacuum tubes are being replaced
by Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors with supporting solid state
electronics. Much before the full implications of the semiconductor devices
was formally understood, a naturally occurring crystal of galena (Lead
sulphide, PbS) with a metal point contact attached to it was used as
detector of radio waves.
In the following sections, we will introduce the basic concepts of
semiconductor physics and discuss some semiconductor devices like
junction diodes (a 2-electrode device) and bipolar junction transistor (a
3-electrode device). A few circuits illustrating their applications will also
be described.
14.2 CLASSIFICATION OF METALS, CONDUCTORS AND
SEMICONDUCTORS
On the basis of conductivity
On the basis of the relative values of electrical conductivity (s ) or resistivity
( r = 1/s ), the solids are broadly classified as:
(i) Metals: They possess very low resistivity (or high conductivity).
r ~ 10
–2
 – 10
–8
 W m
s ~ 10
2
 – 10
8
 S m
–1
(ii) Semiconductors: They have resistivity or conductivity intermediate
to metals and insulators.
r ~ 10
–5
 – 10
6
 W m
s ~ 10
5
 – 10
–6
 S m
–1
(iii)Insulators: They have high resistivity (or low conductivity).
r ~ 10
11
 – 10
19
 W m
s ~ 10
–11
 – 10
–19
 S m
–1
The values of r and s given above are indicative of magnitude and
could well go outside the ranges as well. Relative values of the resistivity
are not the only criteria for distinguishing metals, insulators and
semiconductors from each other. There are some other differences, which
will become clear as we go along in this chapter.
Our interest in this chapter is in the study of semiconductors which
could be:
(i) Elemental semiconductors: Si and Ge
(ii) Compound semiconductors: Examples are:
· Inorganic: CdS, GaAs, CdSe, InP, etc.
· Organic: anthracene, doped pthalocyanines, etc.
· Organic polymers:  polypyrrole, polyaniline, polythiophene, etc.
Most of the currently available semiconductor devices are based on
elemental semiconductors Si or Ge and compound inorganic
semiconductors. However, after 1990, a few semiconductor devices using
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 3


14.1  INTRODUCTION
Devices in which a controlled flow of electrons can be obtained are the
basic building blocks of all the electronic circuits. Before the discovery of
transistor in 1948, such devices were mostly vacuum tubes (also called
valves) like the vacuum diode which has two electrodes, viz., anode (often
called plate) and cathode; triode which has three electrodes – cathode,
plate and grid; tetrode and pentode (respectively with 4 and 5 electrodes).
In a vacuum tube, the electrons are supplied by a heated cathode and
the controlled flow of these electrons in vacuum is obtained by varying
the voltage between its different electrodes. Vacuum is required in the
inter-electrode space; otherwise the moving electrons may lose their
energy on collision with the air molecules in their path. In these devices
the electrons can flow only from the cathode to the anode (i.e., only in one
direction). Therefore, such devices are generally referred to as valves.
These vacuum tube devices are bulky, consume high power, operate
generally at high voltages (~100 V) and have limited life and low reliability.
The seed of the development of modern solid-state semiconductor
electronics goes back to 1930’s when it was realised that some solid-
state semiconductors and their junctions offer the possibility of controlling
the number and the direction of flow of charge carriers through them.
Simple excitations like light, heat or small applied voltage can change
the number of mobile charges in a semiconductor. Note that the supply
Chapter Fourteen
SEMICONDUCTOR
ELECTRONICS:
MATERIALS, DEVICES
AND SIMPLE CIRCUITS
Rationalised 2023-24
Physics
324
and flow of charge carriers in the semiconductor devices are within the
solid itself, while in the earlier vacuum tubes/valves, the mobile electrons
were obtained from a heated cathode and they were made to flow in an
evacuated space or vacuum. No external heating or large evacuated space
is required by the semiconductor devices. They are small in size, consume
low power, operate at low voltages and have long life and high reliability.
Even the Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) used in television and computer
monitors which work on the principle of vacuum tubes are being replaced
by Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors with supporting solid state
electronics. Much before the full implications of the semiconductor devices
was formally understood, a naturally occurring crystal of galena (Lead
sulphide, PbS) with a metal point contact attached to it was used as
detector of radio waves.
In the following sections, we will introduce the basic concepts of
semiconductor physics and discuss some semiconductor devices like
junction diodes (a 2-electrode device) and bipolar junction transistor (a
3-electrode device). A few circuits illustrating their applications will also
be described.
14.2 CLASSIFICATION OF METALS, CONDUCTORS AND
SEMICONDUCTORS
On the basis of conductivity
On the basis of the relative values of electrical conductivity (s ) or resistivity
( r = 1/s ), the solids are broadly classified as:
(i) Metals: They possess very low resistivity (or high conductivity).
r ~ 10
–2
 – 10
–8
 W m
s ~ 10
2
 – 10
8
 S m
–1
(ii) Semiconductors: They have resistivity or conductivity intermediate
to metals and insulators.
r ~ 10
–5
 – 10
6
 W m
s ~ 10
5
 – 10
–6
 S m
–1
(iii)Insulators: They have high resistivity (or low conductivity).
r ~ 10
11
 – 10
19
 W m
s ~ 10
–11
 – 10
–19
 S m
–1
The values of r and s given above are indicative of magnitude and
could well go outside the ranges as well. Relative values of the resistivity
are not the only criteria for distinguishing metals, insulators and
semiconductors from each other. There are some other differences, which
will become clear as we go along in this chapter.
Our interest in this chapter is in the study of semiconductors which
could be:
(i) Elemental semiconductors: Si and Ge
(ii) Compound semiconductors: Examples are:
· Inorganic: CdS, GaAs, CdSe, InP, etc.
· Organic: anthracene, doped pthalocyanines, etc.
· Organic polymers:  polypyrrole, polyaniline, polythiophene, etc.
Most of the currently available semiconductor devices are based on
elemental semiconductors Si or Ge and compound inorganic
semiconductors. However, after 1990, a few semiconductor devices using
Rationalised 2023-24
325
Semiconductor Electronics:
Materials, Devices and
Simple Circuits
organic semiconductors and semiconducting polymers have been
developed signalling the birth of a futuristic technology of polymer-
electronics and molecular-electronics. In this chapter, we will restrict
ourselves to the study of inorganic semiconductors, particularly
elemental semiconductors Si and Ge. The general concepts introduced
here for discussing the elemental semiconductors, by-and-large, apply
to most of the compound semiconductors as well.
On the basis of energy bands
According to the Bohr atomic model, in an isolated atom the energy of
any of its electrons is decided by the orbit in which it revolves. But when
the atoms come together to form a solid they are close to each other. So
the outer orbits of electrons from neighbouring atoms would come very
close or could even overlap. This would make the nature of electron motion
in a solid very different from that in an isolated atom.
Inside the crystal each electron has a unique position and no two
electrons see exactly the same pattern of surrounding charges. Because
of this, each electron will have a different energy level. These different
energy levels with continuous energy variation form what are called
energy bands.  The energy band which includes the energy levels of the
valence electrons is called the valence band. The energy band above the
valence band is called the conduction band. With no external energy, all
the valence electrons will reside in the valence band. If the lowest level in
the conduction band happens to be lower than the highest level of the
valence band, the electrons from the valence band can easily move into
the conduction band. Normally the conduction band is empty. But when
it overlaps on the valence band electrons can move freely into it. This is
the case with metallic conductors.
If there is some gap between the conduction band and the valence
band, electrons in the valence band all remain bound and no free electrons
are available in the conduction band. This makes the material an
insulator. But some of the electrons from the valence band may gain
external energy to cross the gap between the conduction band and the
valence band. Then these electrons will move into the conduction band.
At the same time they will create vacant energy levels in the valence band
where other valence electrons can move. Thus the process creates the
possibility of conduction due to electrons in conduction band as well as
due to vacancies in the valence band.
Let us consider what happens in the case of Si or Ge crystal containing
N atoms. For Si, the outermost orbit is the third orbit (n = 3), while for Ge
it is the fourth orbit (n = 4). The number of electrons in the outermost
orbit is 4 (2s and 2p electrons). Hence, the total number of outer electrons
in the crystal is 4N. The maximum possible number of electrons in the
outer orbit is 8 (2s + 6p electrons). So, for the 4N valence electrons there
are 8N available energy states. These 8N discrete energy levels can either
form a continuous band or they may be grouped in different bands
depending upon the distance between the atoms in the crystal (see box
on Band Theory of Solids).
At the distance between the atoms in the crystal lattices of Si and Ge,
the energy band of these 8N states is split apart into two which are
separated by an energy gap E
g
 (Fig. 14.1). The lower band which is
completely occupied by the 4N valence electrons at temperature of absolute
zero is the valence band.  The other band consisting of 4N energy states,
called the conduction band, is completely empty at absolute zero.
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 4


14.1  INTRODUCTION
Devices in which a controlled flow of electrons can be obtained are the
basic building blocks of all the electronic circuits. Before the discovery of
transistor in 1948, such devices were mostly vacuum tubes (also called
valves) like the vacuum diode which has two electrodes, viz., anode (often
called plate) and cathode; triode which has three electrodes – cathode,
plate and grid; tetrode and pentode (respectively with 4 and 5 electrodes).
In a vacuum tube, the electrons are supplied by a heated cathode and
the controlled flow of these electrons in vacuum is obtained by varying
the voltage between its different electrodes. Vacuum is required in the
inter-electrode space; otherwise the moving electrons may lose their
energy on collision with the air molecules in their path. In these devices
the electrons can flow only from the cathode to the anode (i.e., only in one
direction). Therefore, such devices are generally referred to as valves.
These vacuum tube devices are bulky, consume high power, operate
generally at high voltages (~100 V) and have limited life and low reliability.
The seed of the development of modern solid-state semiconductor
electronics goes back to 1930’s when it was realised that some solid-
state semiconductors and their junctions offer the possibility of controlling
the number and the direction of flow of charge carriers through them.
Simple excitations like light, heat or small applied voltage can change
the number of mobile charges in a semiconductor. Note that the supply
Chapter Fourteen
SEMICONDUCTOR
ELECTRONICS:
MATERIALS, DEVICES
AND SIMPLE CIRCUITS
Rationalised 2023-24
Physics
324
and flow of charge carriers in the semiconductor devices are within the
solid itself, while in the earlier vacuum tubes/valves, the mobile electrons
were obtained from a heated cathode and they were made to flow in an
evacuated space or vacuum. No external heating or large evacuated space
is required by the semiconductor devices. They are small in size, consume
low power, operate at low voltages and have long life and high reliability.
Even the Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) used in television and computer
monitors which work on the principle of vacuum tubes are being replaced
by Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors with supporting solid state
electronics. Much before the full implications of the semiconductor devices
was formally understood, a naturally occurring crystal of galena (Lead
sulphide, PbS) with a metal point contact attached to it was used as
detector of radio waves.
In the following sections, we will introduce the basic concepts of
semiconductor physics and discuss some semiconductor devices like
junction diodes (a 2-electrode device) and bipolar junction transistor (a
3-electrode device). A few circuits illustrating their applications will also
be described.
14.2 CLASSIFICATION OF METALS, CONDUCTORS AND
SEMICONDUCTORS
On the basis of conductivity
On the basis of the relative values of electrical conductivity (s ) or resistivity
( r = 1/s ), the solids are broadly classified as:
(i) Metals: They possess very low resistivity (or high conductivity).
r ~ 10
–2
 – 10
–8
 W m
s ~ 10
2
 – 10
8
 S m
–1
(ii) Semiconductors: They have resistivity or conductivity intermediate
to metals and insulators.
r ~ 10
–5
 – 10
6
 W m
s ~ 10
5
 – 10
–6
 S m
–1
(iii)Insulators: They have high resistivity (or low conductivity).
r ~ 10
11
 – 10
19
 W m
s ~ 10
–11
 – 10
–19
 S m
–1
The values of r and s given above are indicative of magnitude and
could well go outside the ranges as well. Relative values of the resistivity
are not the only criteria for distinguishing metals, insulators and
semiconductors from each other. There are some other differences, which
will become clear as we go along in this chapter.
Our interest in this chapter is in the study of semiconductors which
could be:
(i) Elemental semiconductors: Si and Ge
(ii) Compound semiconductors: Examples are:
· Inorganic: CdS, GaAs, CdSe, InP, etc.
· Organic: anthracene, doped pthalocyanines, etc.
· Organic polymers:  polypyrrole, polyaniline, polythiophene, etc.
Most of the currently available semiconductor devices are based on
elemental semiconductors Si or Ge and compound inorganic
semiconductors. However, after 1990, a few semiconductor devices using
Rationalised 2023-24
325
Semiconductor Electronics:
Materials, Devices and
Simple Circuits
organic semiconductors and semiconducting polymers have been
developed signalling the birth of a futuristic technology of polymer-
electronics and molecular-electronics. In this chapter, we will restrict
ourselves to the study of inorganic semiconductors, particularly
elemental semiconductors Si and Ge. The general concepts introduced
here for discussing the elemental semiconductors, by-and-large, apply
to most of the compound semiconductors as well.
On the basis of energy bands
According to the Bohr atomic model, in an isolated atom the energy of
any of its electrons is decided by the orbit in which it revolves. But when
the atoms come together to form a solid they are close to each other. So
the outer orbits of electrons from neighbouring atoms would come very
close or could even overlap. This would make the nature of electron motion
in a solid very different from that in an isolated atom.
Inside the crystal each electron has a unique position and no two
electrons see exactly the same pattern of surrounding charges. Because
of this, each electron will have a different energy level. These different
energy levels with continuous energy variation form what are called
energy bands.  The energy band which includes the energy levels of the
valence electrons is called the valence band. The energy band above the
valence band is called the conduction band. With no external energy, all
the valence electrons will reside in the valence band. If the lowest level in
the conduction band happens to be lower than the highest level of the
valence band, the electrons from the valence band can easily move into
the conduction band. Normally the conduction band is empty. But when
it overlaps on the valence band electrons can move freely into it. This is
the case with metallic conductors.
If there is some gap between the conduction band and the valence
band, electrons in the valence band all remain bound and no free electrons
are available in the conduction band. This makes the material an
insulator. But some of the electrons from the valence band may gain
external energy to cross the gap between the conduction band and the
valence band. Then these electrons will move into the conduction band.
At the same time they will create vacant energy levels in the valence band
where other valence electrons can move. Thus the process creates the
possibility of conduction due to electrons in conduction band as well as
due to vacancies in the valence band.
Let us consider what happens in the case of Si or Ge crystal containing
N atoms. For Si, the outermost orbit is the third orbit (n = 3), while for Ge
it is the fourth orbit (n = 4). The number of electrons in the outermost
orbit is 4 (2s and 2p electrons). Hence, the total number of outer electrons
in the crystal is 4N. The maximum possible number of electrons in the
outer orbit is 8 (2s + 6p electrons). So, for the 4N valence electrons there
are 8N available energy states. These 8N discrete energy levels can either
form a continuous band or they may be grouped in different bands
depending upon the distance between the atoms in the crystal (see box
on Band Theory of Solids).
At the distance between the atoms in the crystal lattices of Si and Ge,
the energy band of these 8N states is split apart into two which are
separated by an energy gap E
g
 (Fig. 14.1). The lower band which is
completely occupied by the 4N valence electrons at temperature of absolute
zero is the valence band.  The other band consisting of 4N energy states,
called the conduction band, is completely empty at absolute zero.
Rationalised 2023-24
Physics
326
The lowest energy level in the
conduction band is shown as E
C
 and
highest energy level in the valence band
is shown as E
V
. Above E
C
 and below E
V
there are a large number of closely spaced
energy levels, as shown in Fig. 14.1.
The gap between the top of the  valence
band and bottom of the conduction band
is called the energy band gap (Energy gap
E
g
). It may be large, small, or zero,
depending upon the material. These
different situations, are depicted in Fig.
14.2 and discussed below:
Case I: This refers to a situation, as
shown in Fig. 14.2(a). One can have a
metal either when the conduction band
is partially filled and the balanced band
is partially empty or when the conduction
and valance bands overlap. When there
is overlap electrons from valence band can
easily move into the conduction band.
This situation makes a  large number of
electrons available for electrical conduction. When the valence band is
partially empty, electrons from its lower level can move to higher level
making conduction possible. Therefore, the resistance of such materials
is low or the conductivity is high.
FIGURE 14.2 Difference between energy bands of (a) metals,
(b) insulators and (c) semiconductors.
FIGURE 14.1 The energy band positions in a
semiconductor at 0 K. The upper band, called the
conduction band, consists of infinitely large number
of closely spaced energy states. The lower band,
called the valence band, consists of closely spaced
completely filled energy states.
Rationalised 2023-24
Page 5


14.1  INTRODUCTION
Devices in which a controlled flow of electrons can be obtained are the
basic building blocks of all the electronic circuits. Before the discovery of
transistor in 1948, such devices were mostly vacuum tubes (also called
valves) like the vacuum diode which has two electrodes, viz., anode (often
called plate) and cathode; triode which has three electrodes – cathode,
plate and grid; tetrode and pentode (respectively with 4 and 5 electrodes).
In a vacuum tube, the electrons are supplied by a heated cathode and
the controlled flow of these electrons in vacuum is obtained by varying
the voltage between its different electrodes. Vacuum is required in the
inter-electrode space; otherwise the moving electrons may lose their
energy on collision with the air molecules in their path. In these devices
the electrons can flow only from the cathode to the anode (i.e., only in one
direction). Therefore, such devices are generally referred to as valves.
These vacuum tube devices are bulky, consume high power, operate
generally at high voltages (~100 V) and have limited life and low reliability.
The seed of the development of modern solid-state semiconductor
electronics goes back to 1930’s when it was realised that some solid-
state semiconductors and their junctions offer the possibility of controlling
the number and the direction of flow of charge carriers through them.
Simple excitations like light, heat or small applied voltage can change
the number of mobile charges in a semiconductor. Note that the supply
Chapter Fourteen
SEMICONDUCTOR
ELECTRONICS:
MATERIALS, DEVICES
AND SIMPLE CIRCUITS
Rationalised 2023-24
Physics
324
and flow of charge carriers in the semiconductor devices are within the
solid itself, while in the earlier vacuum tubes/valves, the mobile electrons
were obtained from a heated cathode and they were made to flow in an
evacuated space or vacuum. No external heating or large evacuated space
is required by the semiconductor devices. They are small in size, consume
low power, operate at low voltages and have long life and high reliability.
Even the Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) used in television and computer
monitors which work on the principle of vacuum tubes are being replaced
by Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) monitors with supporting solid state
electronics. Much before the full implications of the semiconductor devices
was formally understood, a naturally occurring crystal of galena (Lead
sulphide, PbS) with a metal point contact attached to it was used as
detector of radio waves.
In the following sections, we will introduce the basic concepts of
semiconductor physics and discuss some semiconductor devices like
junction diodes (a 2-electrode device) and bipolar junction transistor (a
3-electrode device). A few circuits illustrating their applications will also
be described.
14.2 CLASSIFICATION OF METALS, CONDUCTORS AND
SEMICONDUCTORS
On the basis of conductivity
On the basis of the relative values of electrical conductivity (s ) or resistivity
( r = 1/s ), the solids are broadly classified as:
(i) Metals: They possess very low resistivity (or high conductivity).
r ~ 10
–2
 – 10
–8
 W m
s ~ 10
2
 – 10
8
 S m
–1
(ii) Semiconductors: They have resistivity or conductivity intermediate
to metals and insulators.
r ~ 10
–5
 – 10
6
 W m
s ~ 10
5
 – 10
–6
 S m
–1
(iii)Insulators: They have high resistivity (or low conductivity).
r ~ 10
11
 – 10
19
 W m
s ~ 10
–11
 – 10
–19
 S m
–1
The values of r and s given above are indicative of magnitude and
could well go outside the ranges as well. Relative values of the resistivity
are not the only criteria for distinguishing metals, insulators and
semiconductors from each other. There are some other differences, which
will become clear as we go along in this chapter.
Our interest in this chapter is in the study of semiconductors which
could be:
(i) Elemental semiconductors: Si and Ge
(ii) Compound semiconductors: Examples are:
· Inorganic: CdS, GaAs, CdSe, InP, etc.
· Organic: anthracene, doped pthalocyanines, etc.
· Organic polymers:  polypyrrole, polyaniline, polythiophene, etc.
Most of the currently available semiconductor devices are based on
elemental semiconductors Si or Ge and compound inorganic
semiconductors. However, after 1990, a few semiconductor devices using
Rationalised 2023-24
325
Semiconductor Electronics:
Materials, Devices and
Simple Circuits
organic semiconductors and semiconducting polymers have been
developed signalling the birth of a futuristic technology of polymer-
electronics and molecular-electronics. In this chapter, we will restrict
ourselves to the study of inorganic semiconductors, particularly
elemental semiconductors Si and Ge. The general concepts introduced
here for discussing the elemental semiconductors, by-and-large, apply
to most of the compound semiconductors as well.
On the basis of energy bands
According to the Bohr atomic model, in an isolated atom the energy of
any of its electrons is decided by the orbit in which it revolves. But when
the atoms come together to form a solid they are close to each other. So
the outer orbits of electrons from neighbouring atoms would come very
close or could even overlap. This would make the nature of electron motion
in a solid very different from that in an isolated atom.
Inside the crystal each electron has a unique position and no two
electrons see exactly the same pattern of surrounding charges. Because
of this, each electron will have a different energy level. These different
energy levels with continuous energy variation form what are called
energy bands.  The energy band which includes the energy levels of the
valence electrons is called the valence band. The energy band above the
valence band is called the conduction band. With no external energy, all
the valence electrons will reside in the valence band. If the lowest level in
the conduction band happens to be lower than the highest level of the
valence band, the electrons from the valence band can easily move into
the conduction band. Normally the conduction band is empty. But when
it overlaps on the valence band electrons can move freely into it. This is
the case with metallic conductors.
If there is some gap between the conduction band and the valence
band, electrons in the valence band all remain bound and no free electrons
are available in the conduction band. This makes the material an
insulator. But some of the electrons from the valence band may gain
external energy to cross the gap between the conduction band and the
valence band. Then these electrons will move into the conduction band.
At the same time they will create vacant energy levels in the valence band
where other valence electrons can move. Thus the process creates the
possibility of conduction due to electrons in conduction band as well as
due to vacancies in the valence band.
Let us consider what happens in the case of Si or Ge crystal containing
N atoms. For Si, the outermost orbit is the third orbit (n = 3), while for Ge
it is the fourth orbit (n = 4). The number of electrons in the outermost
orbit is 4 (2s and 2p electrons). Hence, the total number of outer electrons
in the crystal is 4N. The maximum possible number of electrons in the
outer orbit is 8 (2s + 6p electrons). So, for the 4N valence electrons there
are 8N available energy states. These 8N discrete energy levels can either
form a continuous band or they may be grouped in different bands
depending upon the distance between the atoms in the crystal (see box
on Band Theory of Solids).
At the distance between the atoms in the crystal lattices of Si and Ge,
the energy band of these 8N states is split apart into two which are
separated by an energy gap E
g
 (Fig. 14.1). The lower band which is
completely occupied by the 4N valence electrons at temperature of absolute
zero is the valence band.  The other band consisting of 4N energy states,
called the conduction band, is completely empty at absolute zero.
Rationalised 2023-24
Physics
326
The lowest energy level in the
conduction band is shown as E
C
 and
highest energy level in the valence band
is shown as E
V
. Above E
C
 and below E
V
there are a large number of closely spaced
energy levels, as shown in Fig. 14.1.
The gap between the top of the  valence
band and bottom of the conduction band
is called the energy band gap (Energy gap
E
g
). It may be large, small, or zero,
depending upon the material. These
different situations, are depicted in Fig.
14.2 and discussed below:
Case I: This refers to a situation, as
shown in Fig. 14.2(a). One can have a
metal either when the conduction band
is partially filled and the balanced band
is partially empty or when the conduction
and valance bands overlap. When there
is overlap electrons from valence band can
easily move into the conduction band.
This situation makes a  large number of
electrons available for electrical conduction. When the valence band is
partially empty, electrons from its lower level can move to higher level
making conduction possible. Therefore, the resistance of such materials
is low or the conductivity is high.
FIGURE 14.2 Difference between energy bands of (a) metals,
(b) insulators and (c) semiconductors.
FIGURE 14.1 The energy band positions in a
semiconductor at 0 K. The upper band, called the
conduction band, consists of infinitely large number
of closely spaced energy states. The lower band,
called the valence band, consists of closely spaced
completely filled energy states.
Rationalised 2023-24
327
Semiconductor Electronics:
Materials, Devices and
Simple Circuits
Case II: In this case, as shown in Fig. 14.2(b), a large band gap E
g
 exists
(E
g
 > 3 eV). There are no electrons in the conduction band, and therefore
no electrical conduction is possible. Note that the energy gap is so large
that electrons cannot be excited from the valence band  to the conduction
band by thermal excitation. This is the case of insulators.
Case III: This situation is shown in Fig. 14.2(c). Here a finite but small
band gap (E
g
 < 3 eV) exists. Because of the small band gap, at room
temperature some electrons from valence band can acquire enough
energy to cross the energy gap and enter the  conduction band. These
electrons (though small in numbers) can move in the conduction band.
Hence, the resistance of semiconductors is not as high as that of the
insulators.
In this section we have made a broad classification of metals,
conductors and semiconductors. In the section which follows you will
learn the conduction process in semiconductors.
14.3  INTRINSIC SEMICONDUCTOR
We shall take the most common case of Ge and Si whose
lattice structure is shown in Fig. 14.3. These structures
are called the  diamond-like structures. Each atom is
surrounded by four nearest neighbours. We know that
Si and Ge have four valence electrons. In its crystalline
structure, every Si or Ge atom tends to share one of its
four valence electrons with each of its four nearest
neighbour atoms, and also to take share of one electron
from each such neighbour. These shared electron pairs
are referred to as forming a  covalent bond or simply a
valence bond. The two shared electrons can be assumed
to shuttle back-and-forth between the associated atoms
holding them together strongly. Figure 14.4 schematically
shows the 2-dimensional representation of Si or Ge
structure shown in Fig. 14.3 which overemphasises the
covalent bond. It shows an idealised picture in which no
bonds are broken (all bonds are intact). Such a situation
arises at low temperatures. As the temperature increases,
more thermal energy becomes available to these electrons and some of
these electrons may break–away (becoming free electrons contributing to
conduction). The thermal energy effectively ionises only a few atoms in the
crystalline lattice and creates a vacancy in the bond as shown in Fig. 14.5(a).
The neighbourhood, from which the free electron (with charge –q) has come
out leaves a vacancy with an effective charge (+q). This vacancy with the
effective positive electronic charge is called a hole. The hole behaves as an
apparent free particle with effective positive charge.
In intrinsic semiconductors, the number of free electrons, n
e 
is equal to
the number of holes, n
h
.  That is
n
e
 = n
h
 = n
i
(14.1)
where n
i
 is called intrinsic carrier concentration.
Semiconductors posses the unique property in which, apart from
electrons, the holes also move. Suppose there is a hole at site 1 as shown
FIGURE 14.3 Three-dimensional dia-
mond-like crystal structure for Carbon,
Silicon or Germanium with
respective lattice spacing a equal
to 3.56, 5.43 and 5.66 Å.
Rationalised 2023-24
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FAQs on NCERT Textbook: Semiconductor Electronics - Physics Class 12 - NEET

1. What are semiconductors and how do they work?
Ans. Semiconductors are materials that have electrical conductivity between that of conductors and insulators. They are typically made of elements such as silicon or germanium. Semiconductors work by controlling the flow of electric current through their structure. They contain impurities or dopants that introduce extra electrons (n-type) or holes (p-type) into the material, creating a conductive path. By manipulating the concentration of these impurities, the conductivity of the semiconductor can be controlled.
2. What are the applications of semiconductor electronics?
Ans. Semiconductor electronics find applications in various fields. Some common applications include: - Transistors: These are the building blocks of modern electronic devices, such as computers and smartphones. They amplify and switch electronic signals. - Diodes: Diodes allow current to flow in one direction and are used in rectifiers, voltage regulators, and various electronic circuits. - Integrated Circuits (ICs): These miniaturized circuits consist of thousands or millions of transistors and other electronic components. They are used in microprocessors, memory chips, and other digital circuits. - Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs): LEDs are used as indicators, displays, and in lighting applications due to their energy efficiency and long lifespan. - Solar Cells: Semiconductor-based solar cells convert sunlight into electrical energy and are used in solar panels.
3. What is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors?
Ans. Intrinsic semiconductors are pure semiconducting materials, such as silicon or germanium, with no intentional impurities. They have a balanced number of free electrons and holes at room temperature. Extrinsic semiconductors, on the other hand, are doped with impurities to modify their electrical properties. They can be of two types: - n-type semiconductor: Doped with impurities that introduce extra electrons, creating an excess of negative charge carriers. - p-type semiconductor: Doped with impurities that introduce extra holes, creating an excess of positive charge carriers. The doping process allows the conductivity of the semiconductor to be controlled and tailored for specific applications.
4. What is the working principle of a transistor?
Ans. A transistor is a three-layer semiconductor device with two pn-junctions. It operates based on the principle of amplification and switching of electrical signals. The three layers are called the emitter, base, and collector. In an npn transistor, for example, the base region is very thin compared to the other two layers. When a small current flows from the base-emitter junction, it controls a larger current flowing from the collector-emitter junction. This current amplification is achieved by the control of majority charge carriers (electrons in the case of npn transistor) through the base region. Transistors can be used as amplifiers to increase the strength of weak signals or as switches to control the flow of current in electronic circuits.
5. How are semiconductors used in solar cells?
Ans. Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, are devices that convert sunlight into electrical energy. They are made using semiconductor materials, typically silicon. The process involves creating a pn-junction within the semiconductor material. When sunlight (photons) strikes the solar cell, it generates electron-hole pairs within the semiconductor. The pn-junction separates the electrons and holes, creating a voltage difference. This voltage difference can be used to generate an electric current. The efficiency of solar cells depends on the ability of the semiconductor material to absorb sunlight and convert it into electrical energy. Different types of semiconductors, such as monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and thin-film materials, are used in solar cells to optimize their performance and cost-effectiveness.
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