Exploring New Semiconductor Materials

Semiconductors play a major role in many advanced electronic devices we use daily. They are used to conduct currents and are made up of crystals. Silicon is the most prevalent material used due to the low cost of it in raw form, the simple processing required, and its many useful functions.

Semiconductors are used to conduct electricity while doubling as an insulator. There are two main types of semiconductors: N-type and P-type.

N-type semiconductors typically use phosphorus in the crystals, which is referred to as a dopant. Phosphorus atoms have five electrons in their valence, or outer ring. They are able to bind with four silicon atoms that are adjacent to them. The fifth electron has nothing it can bond to and is free to move around. This allows the atoms to behave as if they are single valence electrons in a typical conductor, such as copper.

P-type semiconductors occur when a dopant has just three electrons in its valence shell, such as boron. When boron is added to the crystal, three electrons bond but there is one silicon atom left, leaving a hole. The hole acts like a positive charge. The holes can move around inside of the crystal as electrons repeatedly try to fill them.

As new semiconductors are discovered the functionality of electronic devices will likely continue to improve. Take for example hafnium diselenide and zirconium diselenide. Electrical engineers at Stanford University have found these two semiconductors to have properties more desirable than silicon.

The two newer semiconductors are able to rust in a beneficial way which gives them an added insulation, something other semiconductors aren’t able to do. These semiconductors are also able to take up less space and they have the energy necessary to switch transistors on in the correct range. Although more research is necessary, these two semiconductors look to improve our electronics greatly once they can be incorporated into new electronic devices.

Here at Red River Precision Manufacturing, we’re a full service manufacturer of custom metal prototypes and products. Our capabilities include shearing, punching, water jet cutting, forming, sawing, drilling, and welding. We pride ourselves on keeping up to date with all the latest advancements in our industry, including those in semiconductors.

Want to know more about how Red River Precision supports the semiconductor industry? Give us a call at 512-244-1508 to learn more.

How the IoT is Boosting the Semiconductor Industry

Everyone seems to be talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) these days – it’s a big, buzzy concept that many cite as the future of connectivity, affecting numerous facets of everyday life. For many though, the IoT is a bit of an abstract idea.

The IoT is about inter-networking “things” – everything from vehicles, to appliances, to building systems and much more – so that they can be better integrated. This allows for reduced human intervention while improving efficiency and accuracy. With the integration of sensors and actuators, the usage is expanded even further.

In the industrial sector, this could have an immense impact when it comes to equipment management, manufacturing process control, and asset and situation management. This can allow for dynamic response to production needs, real-time optimization of the manufacturing process, and much more. One area where it has seen major progress is in monitoring machines to predict and prevent potential failures.

The Center for Intelligent Maintenance Systems, comprised of professionals as well as cutting-edge institutions, has developed methods to assess the degradation of industrial machines through sensors and cloud-based monitoring, and continues to develop more thorough systems for the future. By having computers and machines communicating, the aim is to achieve near-zero breakdown performance, and sustain it through self-maintenance capabilities.

For instance, a sensor could track the movements of a band saw blade, and when it detects it is at a certain point where it will need replacing, it could signal an ordering system to order the part for arrival just prior to the time the blade needs to be replaced. The user could then swap out the blade and continue working right away, with limited human interaction in the chain of actions.

This is driving an increase in demand that has not been seen before, presenting the semiconductor sector with steady growth and plenty of opportunity. In 2016, it was reported that global semiconductor sales were up 12.3% over the previous year, with the total sales of $338.9 billion being a record high for the industry.

Just recently, Intel announced their intent to invest over $7 billion in capital for a research and development location. Expected to be completed in three to four years, the factory in Arizona is expected to provide 3,000 full-time jobs to the area. Intel is only one of many companies investing in the future of the semiconductor industry – particularly in Southeast Asia and China, there is active investing in semiconductor production, including state-backed investments.

Here at Red River Precision, we are experienced in fabricating high-quality components for the semiconductor industry, as well as components for the medical industry, automotive industry, oil and gas industry, and many more industries. We produce custom projects to customers specifications, and pride ourselves in high-level, on-time performance. For more information, contact us online, and make sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest news and projects.