Semiconductors are something you don’t really think about. However, did you know they play a pivotal role in all of our modern electronics? Everything from integrated circuits and microchips to active components and sensors, use semiconductor materials within their design. They are literally everywhere, but few of us know exactly what they do or even what they are.
So, what exactly is a semiconductor and how do they work? Below, you’ll discover everything you need to know.
What is a semiconductor?
A semiconductor is a type of material that’s used to partly conduct electrical currents. They are most commonly crystals made from silicon, though can also be made up of germanium or gallium arsenide.
When they are being made, engineers can manipulate their electrical properties. Through a manufacturing process referred to as doping, engineers can add small impurities into the semiconductor to produce different effects.
Different types of semiconductors
When you’re looking for semiconductors, you’ll find they come in several types. You can find them at RS Components, but what are the different types available?
Semiconductors are separated into two main groups. These include N-Type and P-Type semiconductors. The N-Type carry electron charges, made with an excess number of electrons. The P-Type has a lesser number of electrons, resulting in holes which act like a positive charge.
How do they work?
Now you know what a semiconductor is and the different types available, the question is how do they work?
This will ultimately depend upon the type of semiconductor used. However, generally speaking semiconductors have a few similar characteristics. The silicon-based semiconductors become unstable during the doping process.
Once this occurs, the electrons are free to move around which causes an imbalance between them. This imbalance then generates a charge. The N-Type produce a negative charge, while the P-Type produce a positive charge.
When a voltage is applied, it produces a current flow. The negative current pushes the electrons, while the positive current pulls them. This causes the random hole and electron movement to become more organised and running just one way to create a good electrical current.
As you can see, semiconductors are important for a wide range of electronics. The way in which they work is fascinating. If you need to use semiconductors in your business, make sure you’re purchasing high-quality variations. No two semiconductors are created the same so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best quality.
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