Do you know what semiconductors are? If not, then this article is for you. Semiconductors are a crucial part of our everyday lives. Without them, we would not be able to use cell phones, computers, or other electronic devices. This article will discuss semiconductors, how they work, and the available types. We will also discuss some applications used and how they have changed our world. Let’s get started.
What are Semiconductors?
A semiconductor is a material that can connect and conduct electricity and heat. They are made of materials like carbon, silicon, germanium, and silicon-germanium, just to name a few. They are in computer chips, solar energy cells, and LED lights, with different uses. For instance, Laser Diodes are semiconductors that emit light when an electric current is run through them and are used in CD and DVD players. They help store, process, and transmit information. They are also used in solar energy cells to help create electricity from the sun’s rays.
Semiconductors are made of materials from Group 14 on the periodic table. These materials have 4 valence electrons in their outermost energy level. When they lose or gain electrons, they become electrically charged. This allows them to conduct electricity.
How do Semiconductors Work?
Semiconductors work by allowing electrons to flow freely through them when they are turned on. When they are turned off, the semiconductor does not allow the electrons to flow. This is because the semiconductor has been doped with other materials with 5 or 3 valence electrons. An electric field allows the electrons to flow through the semiconductor when turned on.
In layman’s terms, adding impurities to the semiconductor crystal can create an electric field. This electric field can then move electrons around inside the semiconductor crystal. The most important thing to remember is that a semiconductor only allows a certain amount of current. Too much current will destroy the semiconductor and the device it is powering.
Differences Between Semiconductors and Insulators
Now that we know how semiconductors work let’s discuss the differences between semiconductors and insulators.
Semiconductors are materials that can connect and conduct electricity and heat. They are made of materials like carbon, silicon, germanium, and silicon-germanium. Insulators are materials that do not allow electricity to flow through them easily. They are made of materials like glass, air, and rubber.
The main difference between semiconductors and insulators is that semiconductors are made of materials that can connect and conduct electricity. In contrast, insulators are made of materials that do not allow electricity to flow through them easily.
However, there are also related in some ways, for example:
- Semiconductors and insulators are made of materials with electrons in their outermost energy level.
- When semiconductors or insulators gain or lose electrons, they become electrically charged.
- Semiconductors can be turned into insulators by adding impurities to them.
What are the Different Types of Semiconductors?
There are two main types of conductors; intrinsic and extrinsic.
The intrinsic type is a pure semiconductor with no impurities added. They are not very good conductors of electricity but are used as insulators.
The extrinsic type is a semiconductor with impurities added. They are better conductors of electricity than intrinsic semiconductors. The two main types of extrinsic semiconductors are N-type and P-type.
N-type semiconductors have been doped with materials from Group 15 of the periodic table. These materials have 5 valence electrons in their outermost energy level. When they are added to the semiconductor, they create more free electrons. This makes the N-type a better conductor than the intrinsic type.
P-type semiconductors have been doped with materials from Group 13 of the periodic table. These materials have 3 valence electrons in their outermost energy level. When they are added to the semiconductor, they create more holes. This makes the P-type a better conductor than the intrinsic type.
What are Semiconductor Applications?
There are many applications for semiconductors, and we couldn’t possibly list them all. However, here are some of the most important and notable applications:
- Computers: Semiconductors are used in computer chips, which are the brains of the computer. Their function is to store, process, and transmit information. They are also used to create the computer’s memory.
- Solar energy cells: Solar energy cells are used to convert sunlight into electricity. They are made of semiconductors; the silicon solar cell is the most common type. Here, the semiconductors are doped with impurities to create an electric field. When the sun shines on the solar cell, the electric field allows electrons to flow and generates an electrical current.
- LED lights: LED lights are semiconductors that emit light when an electric current is passed through them. They are used in various applications, including flashlights, car headlights, and traffic lights.
Other uses of semiconductors: Semiconductors are also used in making transistors, diodes, and integrated circuits. They are used in various electronic devices such as radios, televisions, cell phones, and calculators.
While some devices use only one type of semiconductor, most use a combination of both N-type and P-type semiconductors. This is because they complement each other; the N-type provides the electrons, and the P-type provides the holes. When used together, they create a flow of electrical current.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Semiconductor
When choosing a semiconductor for your project, there are several factors you need to consider:
- Type of device: The device you are making will determine the type of semiconductor you need. For example, if you are making a solar cell, you will need a silicon solar cell.
- Cost: Semiconductors can be expensive, so you need to consider the cost when choosing one for your project.
- Availability: Some semiconductors are more readily available than others. You need to make sure that the one you choose is readily available so you can get it when you need it.
- Suitability: You must ensure that your chosen semiconductor is suitable for your project. For example, if you make a solar cell, you must ensure that the semiconductor you choose can absorb sunlight and convert it into electricity.
Semiconductors are an essential part of many electronic devices and their vast applications. This article has explained in detail what they are, how they work, and their different types. With this knowledge, you can choose the right semiconductor for your project. When choosing a semiconductor for your project, you need to consider the type of device you are making, the cost, availability, and suitability. With so many factors to consider, it is important to do your research to ensure you choose the right one for your project.