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Essay about Physics of Semiconductors

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Semiconductors were being studied in laboratories as early as the 1830's. The materials were usually poor conductors if heated and often carried photoelectric properties. (Electrical production by shining light on the material.) Soon, this property of changing conductivity would become of vital importance to the world of electronics and communications. (Micron) Common semiconductors include silicon, zinc and germanium; however, silicon is by far the most widely implemented due to its abundance. Also, its reasonable speed, simple processing, and useful temperature range make it a good choice among other semiconductors. (Wikipedia - Semiconductor Device) This element has been used to make cast iron, bricks, and pottery, and glass, but it found a new technological purpose. Silicon is extracted from sand and altered using small amounts of impurities (more on that later) so the electrical current across the silicon can be regulated depending on the polarity of the electrical charge applied to it. Before semiconductors (1600's to 1800's), the vacuum tube dominated electronics. Radios, and even computers used vacuum tubes in their circuits. However, semiconductors in the form of transistors, replaced vacuum tubes because they were smaller, lighter, less power consuming, more durable, more reliable, and generated less heat. (Xiao) Semiconductors are now used in almost any electronic component imaginable.

Most materials fall into two categories: conductors and insulators. These materials conduct or do not conduct electricity, respectively. Now, how well this electricity can flow through a conductor is a measure known as resistance. Electricity flows by raising electrons from a lower energy level to a higher energy level in the atoms of ...


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...switching devices for the electric power industry, electric vehicles, etc.; and control electronics for the nuclear power industry.(NMAB)

Works Cited

"Britney Spears guide to Semiconductor physics, Edge Emmiting Lasers and VCSELs".
http://britneyspears.ac/lasers.htm

"History of Semiconductor". Hong Xiao
http://www.austincc.edu/HongXiao/overview/history-semi/

"History of Semiconductors".
http://www.micron.com/k12/semiconductors/history.html

"How Semiconductors Work". Brain, Marshall
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/diode.htm

"Semiconductor". Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiconductor

"Semiconductor Device". Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiconductor_device

Materials for High-Temperature Semiconductor Devices. National Materials Advisory Board
National Academy Press. Washington, DC. 1995.


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