Semiconductors are the basic components of electronic equipment. The more commonly used semiconductors are the diode (used to rectify),
the transistor (used to amplify), and the integrated circuit (used to switch or amplify). The primary function of semiconductor Fundamentals and devices is to control voltage or current for some desired result.
Advantages of semiconductors include the following:
- Small size and weight
- Low power consumption at low voltages
- High efficiency
- Great reliability
- Ability to operate in hazardous environments
- Instant operation when power is applied
- Economic mass production Disadvantages of semiconductors include these:
- Great susceptibility to changes in temperature
- Extra components required for stabilization
- Easily damaged (by exceeding power limits or reversing polarity of operating voltage, and by excess heat when soldering into a circuit)
SEMICONDUCTION IN GERMANIUM AND SILICON
Semiconductor materials have characteristics that fall between those of insulators and conductors. Three pure semiconductor elements are carbon (C), germanium (Ge), and silicon (Si). Those suitable for electronic applications are germanium and silicon.
Germanium is a brittle, grayish-white element discovered in 1886. A powder, germanium dioxide, is recovered from the ashes of certain types of coal. The powder is then reduced to the solid form of pure germanium.
Silicon was discovered in 1823. It is found extensively in the earth’s crust as a white or sometimes colorless compound, silicon dioxide. Silicon dioxide (silica) can be found abundantly in sand, quartz, agate, and flint. It is then chemically reduced to pure silicon in a solid form. Silicon is the most commonly used semiconductor material.