Questions tagged [semiconductor-physics]

Semiconductor physics is the branch of solid state physics that focuses on specific properties of semiconductors. It studies dynamics of different perturbations (mainly electrons and holes) in the semiconductor crystal and the ways to harness it in electrical circuits.

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Understanding the Fermi level and the Fermi-Dirac distribution [duplicate]

I'm confused about why the Fermi level is located inside the band gap in semiconductors because it's defined to be the energy level where an electron has a 50% chance to be, but there can't be ...
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What are "electron holes" in semiconductors?

I'm tutoring senior high school students. So far I've explained them the concepts of atomic structure (Bohr's model & Quantum mechanical model) very clearly. Now the next topic to be taught is ...
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Why doesn't current flow in reverse biased diode?

Consider this reverse biased diode : I read that no or very small current flows in reverse biased diode as depletion layers get widened and huge resistance is offered so no electrons can cross it. ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Pn junction voltage drop?

This image from wikipedia, explains that there occurs a potential drop across a pn semiconductor junction, and an electric field confined to the depletion region. I already know the reason for the ...
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21 votes
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What does Fermi level in the band gap mean?

What does it mean that the Fermi level for some semiconductors lie in the band gap? Is Fermi level definition different from what is know as usual? We define the Fermi level as the highest level of ...
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What determines the forward voltage drop for a diode?

I have always had the idea that the forward voltage drop in a semiconductor diode was related in a simple way to the bandgap energies in the semiconductor. However this is apparently not the case: ...
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Band gaps: are they at the centre or at the edge of the Brillouin zone?

Reading about electronic band structures, I came across the following: Band gaps open at the edges of the Brillouin zone (BZ), since that is where the Bragg scattering occurs. I am slightly ...
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Why isn't there a potential difference across a disconnected diode?

I know this question sounds silly, as if there was a potential difference a current would be created when the terminals are connected together and this would mean energy has come from somewhere. The ...
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22 votes
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What is it about the "conduction band" of a material that is distinct from the valence band?

I'm taking a course in nanotech and we're discussing nanoelectronics. This has led to a discussion of conductors, semiconductors, and insulators. I have a number of lovely diagrams explaining the fact ...
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The concept of Fermi level

I have read and used the concept of Fermi level previously and this is simply an attempt on my side to better my understanding of it by asking myself various questions. I understand that the fermi ...
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Why do $p$-orbitals correspond to the valence band in semiconductors?

Silicon is industry's most famous semiconductor. Its electron configuration is the following: It means that the highest energy orbitals are the 3p orbitals (which are only partially filled). Now, ...
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Reverse bias P-N junction [duplicate]

I am not able to understand why the PN junction does not conduct when reverse biased. Can't electrons travel from the N side through the power supply to the P side where they can jump from one hole to ...
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What does the Fermi Energy really signify in a Semiconductor?

In understanding the behavior of semiconductors, I'm coming across a description of the Fermi Energy here and at Wikipedia's page (Fermi Energy, Fermi Level). If I understand correctly, the Fermi ...
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Why absence of electron is called hole?

I am having hard time in understanding the concept of holes: If there is no electron than how can it be a hole? For a moment lets assume absence of electron is termed as hole but how can this absent ...
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What are the phenomena responsible for irreversible increase in entropy?

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20140416-times-arrow-traced-to-quantum-source This article says that entanglement drives the arrow of time of increasing entropy towards thermodynamic equilibrium: ...
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How do electron holes have spin, and how do they interact with "real" particles / vice versa?

So, I thought I had an uneasy truce with quantum mechanics but I read something today which made spotted combat flare up in my mind again. In solid state semiconductor free electrons certainly have ...
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1 answer
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Effect of doping on the width of depletion layer of PN-junction diode

I've read that if there is very low doping in a pn-junction diode, the depletion region will be large because a large volume of depleted semiconductor is needed to generate enough electric field to ...
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3 answers
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Electrical conduction using band theory

The often told cause of conductor conducting electricity is their valence band and conduction band overlap and when an electric field is applied the electrons jumps into conduction band and ...
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1 answer
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Difference between steady state and equilibrium?

In semiconductor physics, what is the difference between steady state and equilibrium. How analysis of devices varies in these processes?
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Why can solar cells be made of indirect and direct semiconductors? (Comparison between some pn-junction devices)

Various textbooks mention, but not go into detail, how semiconductor devices are optimized for their particular function. E-k space is trascendental to understand this, given that it depends on the ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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How does current flow from the emitter, through the base and to the collector in a NPN transistor?

So, I understand that for a NPN transistor to work the emitter-base junction needs to be forward biased and the collector-base junction needs to be reverse biased. I understand how current flows from ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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In the diode equation, why the exponential $\exp$ and the ideality factor $n$ are there? What do they represent & what is their significance?

In the Shockley diode equation, why the exponential $\exp$ and the ideality factor $n$ are there? What do they represent & what is their significance? I have to work on Solar Photovoltaics, and ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Why do we have heavy and light hole bands in semiconductors?

On the topic of the valence band of a semiconductor (in this example GaAS), it is the case that the valence band has some structure to it. As shown in the illustration below, we see that at the $\...
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14 votes
3 answers
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Measuring the effective mass

Intro: To avoid any terminology confusion, this is asked in the context of Solid State Physics and semiconductors. The canonical definition given for the effective mass is that it is related to the ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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Tunneling v. Hopping

Can someone explain the difference between hopping and tunneling? The context I'm considering is conduction in semiconductors, specifically between impurity states within the bandgap. It's always ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Why are laser pulses Sech Squared in temporal shape?

Ultrashort pulses from mode-locked lasers often have a temporal shape which can be described with a squared hyperbolic secant ($\mathrm{sech}^2$) function: $$ P(t)=P_0 \mathrm{sech}^2 \left( \frac{t}{...
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6 votes
4 answers
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Working of a p-n junction diode when forward biased

If p-type semiconductor and n-type semiconductor of a diode are equally doped, and if the diode is forward biased, then holes will move toward the n-type semiconductor and electrons will move toward ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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What's the purpose of capacitors in parallel

In my school textbook it is written that the capacitor acts as a filter, that is, it decreases the fluctuations in the potential difference across the load. But since all the components are ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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Temperature dependence of the relaxation time in Boltzmann equation for impurity scattering in metals

Is there any temperature dependence of relaxation time in impurity scattering of conducting electrons? It seems to me that there is none. But, some people claim that there is. So if you could explain,...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Conduction band confusion

What actually is conduction band?I have just started learning semiconductors and this is the very first concept I am troubled with.Is this continuous energy level of all the free electrons or ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Does the Fermi level change under change of temperature, voltage or other conditions?

From a previous post with similar title, (What's the difference between Fermi Energy and Fermi Level?) I think it is safe to assume that In a block of material, Fermi energy is the level, up to ...
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2 answers
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How holes conduct current?

I had questions about holes in semiconductor, when i checked the net it is said holes are said to be equivalent positive charge and they say because the hole moves from one place to another when it is ...
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1 answer
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Charge density in depletion layer for pn-junction

I just came across this Wikipedia article on pn-junctions: pn junction What I don't get is why the negative charge density is narrower/smaller than the positive one in Figure A. I'm guessing the ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Are electrons in a p n junction delocalized across the junction?

When discussing p n junctions, it is usually said that electrons diffuse from the n side to the p side, hence creating a separation of charges. However, we know that electrons in a lattice are ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Why dopant energy levels differ from one material to another?

Dopant levels in Si, Ge and GaAs are very different from each other. Even "similar" materials such as Si and Ge exhibit different dopant energy levels. (source: Pierret, Advanced Semiconductor ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Are holes electrons moving in the same direction of the electric field?

Holes are electrons, but with negative mass. That's said, so by applying electric field, electrons (n) move in the opposite direction of the field, while holes (other electrons) move in the same ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why n+ contact of p type Ge is 700um thick compared to p+ contact of n type Ge only 0.3um?

Whether the reason is as follows? Predominantly HPGe is p type. So compensation of large p type impurity requires more n+ contact. (700um) But n type Ge is made by doping of excess addition of n type ...
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1 vote
2 answers
175 views

Semi conductors (holes and electrons)

The following relation is mentioned in my text book for semiconductors in thermal equilibrium. $$n_e ×n_h = n_i^2$$ $n_e$ stands for the number of electrons. $n_h$ stands for the number of holes. ...
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0 votes
1 answer
120 views

Saturated BJT Transistors. V CE < V BE : AKA - Things that make you go “Hmmmm”

At the risk of being blasted for cross-posting, I am posting this question again here in the Physics department. It is a duplicate of this post in the EE forum. However, I would like to get some ...
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Widening of depletion region

Why does the width of the depletion region of a p-n junction diode increase when it's reverse biased by connecting it to an external voltage source?
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57 votes
3 answers
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Is there a physical limit to data transfer rate?

Is there a physical limit to data transfer rate (e.g. for USB $3.0$, this rate can be a few Gbit per second)? I am wondering if there is a physical law giving a fundamental limit to data transfer rate,...
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23 votes
3 answers
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Why are band maxima / minima often (always?) at high-symmetry points?

(inspired by this question.) In every semiconductor that I can think of, the valence band maximum and conduction band minimum are at a high-symmetry point in the Brillouin Zone (BZ). Often the BZ ...
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23 votes
5 answers
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Why don't free electrons escape from a conductor?

The thermal velocity of the free electron in a metallic conductor varies from $10^5\ \mathrm{m/s}$ to $10^6\ \mathrm{m/s}$. In spite of high velocity, free electrons fail to escape from the metallic ...
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6 votes
3 answers
3k views

Would HgTe be a topological insulator?

In "Quantum Spin Hall Insulator State in HgTe Quantum Wells", researchers observed a 2D topological insulator by sandwiching HgTe between CdTe. Is the CdTe really necessary? Would Vacuum/HgTe/Vacuum ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Why are there direct bandgaps?

This Question has been bugging me for sometime. Some semiconductors have direct bandgaps and indirect bandgaps. So what causes a direct bandgap to occur? The physics behind ,why there are direct ...
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4 votes
5 answers
27k views

Current through the reverse biased junction in transistor [closed]

A transistor is a three terminal device. One terminal is called emitter, one collector and in between them is base. Now, during biasing the junction between emitter and base is made forward biased and ...
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6 votes
4 answers
286 views

PN junction: not sure to understand why reverse-biais lead to negligible current

My question is very highly related to Why doesn't current flow in reverse biased diode? Basically, I would like to understand in more depth John Rennie answer. At $t=0$, I consider a PN junction ...
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4 votes
4 answers
9k views

Why does a semiconductor hole have a mass?

I have read that holes in semiconductor are nothing but vacancies created by electrons. But how can this vacancy i.e. hole has a mass?
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3 votes
3 answers
365 views

Domain of validity for semiconductor equations

If I understand correctly, the distinction between semiconductors and insulators is a matter of convention? A semiconductor is basically an insulator with an (enough) narrow band gap, usually around $...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Which is the best DFT functional for band gap calculation?

Density Functional Theory (DFT) does not predict the correct band gap (E$_{g})$ of the materials. Which exchange and correlation functional predicts the E$_{g}$ value exactly? What about the HOMO-...
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