Semiconductors are substances that possess the electrical properties between conductors and insulators. It plays an important role in almost every industry. From consumer electronics goods to home automation, that supports our day-to-day life. The semiconductor is also used in the health care sector in different forms such as glucometers, BP monitors, or advanced laser treatment.
Increasing digitalization demands upgraded electronic devices which require advanced semiconductor chips for functioning. Moreover, developments in semiconductors have proven to be more efficient with advancements such as size reduction, energy efficiency, and fast processing systems.
Furthermore, applications of IOT-based things and artificial intelligence in different sectors such as automobiles or small electronic devices have increased. This requires memory chips that process large volumes of data in a very short time, which is accomplished using semiconductors.
What Is Semiconductor?
A semiconductor is a solid chemical substance that conducts electricity under certain conditions only. Conductors are substances that conduct electricity and insulators are substances that do not conduct electricity. Semiconductor materials are used in manufacturing different devices known as semiconductor devices such as diodes, integrated circuits (IC), and transistors which sit perfectly between conductors and insulators possessing specific or limited conductivity.
Semiconductors with their intermediate electrical conductivity have a wide range of current and voltage handling capabilities. Moreover, it can be easily integrated into complex but readily manufacturable microelectronic circuits which is further used in motherboards of consumer electronics devices.
There is a wide range of semiconductor materials available in the market. Some of the most used materials are arsenic, boron, carbon, silicon, germanium, selenium, and others. Some of the common semiconductor compounds include gallium arsenide, indium antimonide, and oxides of some metals. The selection of materials depends on many factors as such price, availability, and its electrical properties.
How does Semiconductor Work?
The functioning of semiconductors depends on the basic structure of atoms and how electrons arrange themselves within atoms; semiconductors usually have four electrons in their valence shell. Whenever the nearby atom is of the same valence, electrons in the outermost shell bond with other atoms creating a crystal structure atom arrangement.
Most semiconductors are made up of such crystals, mainly silicon crystals. It provides a controlled flow of electricity. Thus, its basic function is to switch on and off the flow of current as and when required. The conductance of the semiconductor depends on several factors including current and voltage applied to the control electrode or intensity of irradiation from infrared or UV rays
Depending on the current carriers, semiconductors are categorized as N-type and P-type semiconductors. An N-type semiconductor, it carries current in the form of negatively charged electrons. In P-type semiconductors, the current is carried by holes, where a hole has a positive electric charge equal to and opposite to the charge on an electron.
Type of Semiconductors
There are basically two types of semiconductors based on manufacturing, i.e. intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors. Intrinsic semiconductors are made using only one kind of material and are in pure form. It does not have any added impurities. On the other hand, extrinsic semiconductors are impure and contain intrinsic semiconductor with other additional substances to change their properties.
Based on its application there are many types of semiconductors and some of them are as listed below.
- Semiconductor chip
Semiconductor controls and manages the flow of electric current in electronic devices and it is used in electronic chips made for computing components and other electronic equipment such as solid-state storage.
- RF Semiconductor
Radio Frequency (RF) Semiconductors are used to switch on or rectify power in electronic devices. It usually deals with a radio frequency spectrum of about 3KHz up to 300GHz.
- Semiconductor Optical Amplifier
Semiconductor Optical Amplifier (SOA) is an element of a semiconductor that amplifies light. It is widely used in optical transceivers to initiate communication between data centers.
In addition to these, other mostly used semiconductor devices include light emitting diode(LED), Laser diode, photocell, and solar cell, and different transistors such as bipolar and field effect transistors. Semiconductor offers key elements or a majority of consumer electronic devices which is fast-paced communication, signal processing, data transfer, and computing. It is also utilized in controlling home appliances and industrial machines.
Such high demand is thriving in the research and development sector to work on new better technologies and accomplish consumer requirements from all over the globe.