A semiconductor is a material that holds the ability to conduct low amounts of electrical current, placing its conductivity in between conductors and insulators. Semiconductors may provide multiple functions, including impeding current in a single direction while allowing easy passage in the other, enacting variable resistance, and may be sensitive to both light and heat. Semiconductors play a role in various electronic applications, serving as switches, amplifiers, and energy converters for integrated circuits and other basic electronic components. In this blog, we will discuss the properties of semiconductors, how they are made, and how they function across various types and applications.
When manufacturing a semiconductor, one of the most important considerations made is the materials used to achieve semiconducting properties. Typically, crystalline solids are used as the semiconductor material, though liquid and amorphous semiconducting materials may be used as well. The most common materials that are used include silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide. As a semiconducting material, conductivity must be present, but not as great as those seen in highly conductive materials, hence the name “semiconductor”.
Semiconducting properties can be manipulated in a chosen material, and this process is called “doping”. When a material undergoes doping, impurities may be added to the crystal lattice, acting as acceptor or donor atoms to change the conductivity of the semiconductor material. Acceptors, or p-type dopants, may include boron, aluminum, gallium, and indium. Donors, or n-type dopants, may include phosphorus, arsenic, antimony, bismuth, and lithium.
The process of manufacturing semiconductors requires a great amount of chemistry & physics knowledge and experience due to the complexity of its steps. First, the electric circuit and mask for the semiconductor and integrated circuit is designed, based on the decided application and functionality of the semiconductor. Then, the pattern of the circuit is produced, the silicon wafer for integrated circuits is created, and insulation layers are formed. After these steps have been completed, transistors or other such devices are used to establish an electric circuit. To finalize the manufacturing process, the chips are assembled, tested, and then finalized with packaging by the electronic component manufacturers.
The functionality of a semiconductor device may depend on the application, such as for a diode or transistor. A diode is a simplistic semiconductor device, permitting the flow of current in one direction while impeding flow in the other. An example of the use of a diode within common applications is a battery. Within a battery the diode separates the N and P-type silicon from each other, preventing electrons from flowing across from the negative side to the positive side, or vice versa. As the electrons are attracted to each other, the diode forces the current to flow in a direction that allows it to produce powering capabilities on a circuit before reaching the other side.
Transistors are similar to diodes, though they add complexity with having three layers rather than two, such as having two N-type silicon layers and one P-type, or two P-type layers and one N-type. When a current is applied to the center layer of transistors, voltage can be amplified or switched. While this functionality may seem simple, a single device may contain a multitude of semiconductors, diodes, and transistors to create complex operations and capabilities. For example, one smartphone may contain upwards of 100 billion transistors, providing for the functionality of the graphics processing unit, RAM, storage devices, CPU, and other peripherals across all components.
Semiconductors are an indispensable component of countless electronics, devices, and instruments that we use daily. When it comes time to begin sourcing the semiconductor modules and memory accessories part type components that you need for your next project or operation, ASAP Logistic Solutions has you covered with everything you are searching for.
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