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Semiconductors: The Building Blocks of Modern Technology

Updated: Jun 26


Semiconductors
Semiconductors

The Silicon Revolution: How Semiconductors Shaped Our World


Introduction


Semiconductors are the foundation of modern electronics. They are materials with electrical conductivity between that of conductors and insulators. Semiconductors have revolutionized our world by enabling the creation of advanced computing devices, communication systems, renewable energy sources, and more.


History of Semiconductors


  • The discovery of semiconductor can be traced back to the early 1800s when researchers discovered that some materials could conduct electricity better than others. However, it wasn't until the 1940s that the first practical semiconductor device, the point-contact transistor, was invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley at Bell Labs.


  • The point-contact transistor was the beginning of the semiconductor revolution, leading to the development of the integrated circuit, which is the foundation of modern computing.


How Semiconductors Work


  • Semiconductors have unique electrical properties that make them ideal for use in electronic devices. The most important of these properties is the bandgap, which is the energy difference between the valence band (where electrons are tightly bound to atoms) and the conduction band (where electrons can move freely).


  • In an insulator, the bandgap is too large for electrons to be excited into the conduction band, while in a conductor, the bandgap is too small, and electrons can move freely between atoms. In a semiconductor, the bandgap is small enough that electrons can be excited into the conduction band with the right amount of energy.


  • This property allows semiconductors to be used as switches and amplifiers. When a voltage is applied to a semiconductor material, it can cause electrons to move from the valence band to the conduction band, allowing current to flow through the material. By controlling the voltage applied, we can control the flow of current, allowing us to create logic gates and other electronic components.


Types of Semiconductors


There are two main types of semiconductors: Intrinsic and Extrinsic


  • Intrinsic semiconductors are pure materials, such as silicon or germanium, with no impurities. These materials have a small number of free electrons in their valence band that can be excited into the conduction band, allowing them to conduct electricity.


  • Extrinsic semiconductors are materials that have been doped with impurities to increase their electrical conductivity. This process involves adding small amounts of atoms of another element, such as boron or phosphorus, to the semiconductor material. This changes the number of electrons in the valence band and the conduction band, altering the material's electrical properties.



Process of making semiconductors


The process of creating a semiconductor chip involves several steps, including lithography, doping, and etching.


  • Lithography involves using light to transfer a pattern onto the semiconductor material.


  • Doping involves adding impurities to create regions of differing conductivity.


  • Etching involves removing parts of the semiconductor material to create the desired pattern.


Applications of Semiconductors


Semiconductors are used in a wide range of electronic devices, from smartphones to computers to solar panels.


Some of the most common applications of semiconductors include:


  1. Computer processors: The integrated circuit, made up of millions of transistors, is the basis of modern computing.

  2. Solar panels: Solar cells use semiconductors to convert sunlight into electricity.

  3. LED lighting: Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are made from semiconductors and are used in energy-efficient lighting.

  4. Communication systems: Semiconductors are used in radio and television receivers and transmitters, as well as in cell phones and other wireless devices.

  5. Medical devices: Semiconductors are used in a wide range of medical devices, including pacemakers and X-ray machines.


Process of making Semiconductors & How it is used
Printed Circuit Board

Conclusion | Semiconductors


Semiconductors are a crucial component of modern electronics, enabling the creation of advanced computing devices, communication systems, renewable energy sources, and more. As technology continues to advance, semiconductors will play an increasingly important role in shaping our world.


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Semiconductor, Integrated Circuit (IC), Microchips, Technology, Processors, LED, PCB, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Semiconductor, Intrinsic Semiconductor, Fintech Shield



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