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REVIEW OF INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC SEMICONDUCTORS
An intrinsic semiconductor is one, which is pure enough that impurities do not appreciably affect its electrical behaviour. In this case, all carriers are created due to thermally or optically excited electrons from the full valence band into the empty conduction band. Thus equal numbers of electrons and holes are present in an intrinsic semiconductor. Electrons and holes flow in opposite directions in an electric field, though they contribute to current in the same direction since they are oppositely charged. Hole current and electron current are not necessarily equal in an intrinsic semiconductor, however, because electrons and holes have different effective masses (crystalline analogues to free inertial masses).
The concentration of carriers is strongly dependent on the temperature. At low temperatures, the valence band is completely full making the material an insulator. Increasing the temperature leads to an increase in the number of carriers and a corresponding increase in conductivity. This characteristic shown by intrinsic semiconductor is different from the behaviour of most metals, which tend to become less conductive at higher temperatures due to increased phonon scattering.
Both silicon and germanium are tetravalent, i.e. each has four electrons (valence electrons) in their outermost shell. Both elements crystallize with a diamond-like structure, i.e. in such a way that each atom in the crystal is inside a tetrahedron formed by the four atoms which are closest to it. Each atom shares its four valence electrons with its four immediate neighbours, so that each atom is involved in four covalent bonds.
An extrinsic semiconductor is one that has been doped with impurities to modify the number and type of free charge carriers. An extrinsic semiconductor is a semiconductor that has been doped, that is, into which a doping agent has been introduced, giving it different electrical properties than the intrinsic (pure) semiconductor.
Doping involves adding doping atoms to an intrinsic semiconductor, which changes the electron and hole carrier concentrations of the semiconductor at thermal equilibrium. Dominant carrier concentrations in an extrinsic semiconductor classify it as either an n-type or p-type semiconductor.
A pure or intrinsic conductor has thermally generated holes and electrons. However these are relatively few in number. An enormous increase in the number of charge carriers can by achieved by introducing impurities into the semiconductor in a controlled manner. The result is the formation of an extrinsic semiconductor. This process is referred to as doping. There are basically two types of impurities: donor impurities and acceptor impurities. Donor impurities are made up of atoms (arsenic for example) which have five valence electrons. Acceptor impurities are made up of atoms (gallium for example) which have three valence electrons.
The two types of extrinsic semiconductor are
Extrinsic semiconductors with a larger electron concentration than hole concentration are known as n-type semiconductors. The phrase 'n-type' comes from the negative charge of the electron. In n-type semiconductors, electrons are the majority carriers and holes are the minority carriers. N-type semiconductors are created by doping an intrinsic semiconductor with donor impurities.
In an n-type semiconductor, the Fermi energy level is greater than that of the intrinsic semiconductor and lies closer to the conduction band than the valence band. Arsenic has 5 valence electrons, however, only 4 of them form part of covalent bonds. The 5th electron is then free to take part in conduction. The electrons are said to be the majority carriers and the holes are said to be the minority carriers.
As opposed to n-type semiconductors, p-type semiconductors have a larger hole concentration than electron concentration. The phrase 'p-type' refers to the positive charge of the hole. In p-type semiconductors, holes are the majority carriers and electrons are the minority carriers. P-type semiconductors are created by doping an intrinsic semiconductor with acceptor impurities. P-type semiconductors have Fermi energy levels below the intrinsic Fermi energy level.
The Fermi energy level lies closer to the valence band than the conduction band in a p- type semiconductor. Gallium has 3 valence electrons, however, there are 4 covalent bonds to fill. The 4th bond therefore remains vacant producing a hole. The holes are said to be the majority carriers and the electrons are said to be the minority carriers.
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