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What is a semiconductor? Describe the two main types of semiconductors and contrast their conduction mechanism.

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Substance whose conductance likes in between that of metals (conductors) and insulators are called semiconductors.
There are two main types of semiconductors :
(i) n-type semiconductors
(ii) p-type semiconductors
(i) n-type semiconductors
Silicon and germanium belong to group 14 of the periodic table and have four valence electrons each.In their crystals each atom forms four covalent bonds with its neighbours.When doped with a group 15 element like p or as which contains five valence electrons,they occupy some of the lattice sites in silicon or germanium crystal.Four out of five electrons are used in the formation of four covalent bonds with the four neighbouring silicon atoms.The fifth electrons in extra and becomes delocalised.
These delocalised electrons increase the conductivity of doped silicon (or germanium).Here the increase in conductivity is due to the negatively charged electron,hence silicon doped with electron with impurity is called n-type semiconductor
(ii) p-type semiconductors:
Silicon or germanium can also be doped with a group 13 elements like B,Al or Ga which contains only three valence electrons.The place where the fourth valence electron is missing is called electron hole or electron vacancy.An electron from a neighbouring atom can come and fill the electron hole,but in doing so it would leave an electron hole at its original position.If it happens it would appear as if the electron hole has moved in the direction opposite to that of the electron that filled it under the influence of electric field,electrons would move towards the positively charged plate through electronic holes,but it would appear as if electron holes are positively charged and are moving towards negatively charged plate.This type of semiconductors are calles p-type semiconductors.
answered Jul 30, 2014 by sreemathi.v

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