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.