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Semiconductors and Their Uses

4/24/2012 6:19:58 PM


Semiconductors are materials that have electrical conductivity between conductors such as most metals and nonconductors or insulators like ceramics. How much electricity a semiconductor can conduct depends on the material and its mixture content. Semiconductors can be insulators at low temperatures and conductors at high temperatures. As they are used in the fabrication of electronic devices, semiconductors play an important role in our lives.


These materials are the foundation of modern day electronics such as radio, computers and mobile phones. Semiconductor material is used in the manufacturing of electrical components and used in electronic devices such as transistors and diodes. They can be classified into mainly two categories known as intrinsic semiconductors and extrinsic semiconductors. An intrinsic semiconductor material is very pure and possesses poor conductivity. It is a single element not mixed with anything else. On the other hand, extrinsic is a semiconductor material to which small amounts of impurities are added in a process called doping which cause changes in the conductivity of this material. The doping process produces two groups of semiconductors which are known as the negative charge conductor known as n-type and the positive charge conductor known as p-type. The materials selected to be added to an intrinsic depend on the atomic properties of both the material being added and the material to be doped.


Semiconductors are especially important as varying conditions like temperature and impurity content can easily change their conductivity. The combination of various semiconductor types together generates devices with special electrical properties, which allow control of electrical signals. Imagine a world without electronics if these materials were not discovered. Despite the fact that vacuum tubes can be used to replace them, using semiconductors has made electronics faster, reliable and a lot smaller in size. Also, they have allowed for creation of electrical devices with special capabilities which can be used for various purposes.

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