A semiconductor is a material with a conductivity that falls between conductors (usually metals) and nonconductors or insulators (like most ceramics). Semiconductors encompass a wide range of materials, including pure elements like silicon and germanium, as well as compounds like gallium arsenide or cadmium selenide. Through a process known as doping, pure semiconductors are enhanced by incorporating minute amounts of impurities. This results in significant alterations to the material’s conductivity.
Among these elements and compounds, silicon is prominent in electronic circuitry manufacturing, while gallium arsenide is applied in solar cells, laser diodes, and various other electronic components.
These are also termed semis or chips. They find widespread applications across many products, including but not limited to computers, smartphones, household appliances, gaming hardware, and medical equipment.
Application of Semiconductors
Semiconductors find applications across various sectors of electronics:
1. Consumer Electronics: Mobile phones, laptops, game consoles, microwaves, and refrigerators rely on semiconductor components like integrated chips, diodes, and transistors. The soaring demand for these devices contributes to the current extended waiting times for many consumer electronics.
2. Thermal Conductivity: Certain semiconductors possess high thermal conductivity, making them suitable as cooling agents in specific thermoelectric applications.
3. Embedded Systems: Embedded systems, small computers integrated into larger machines, control devices, and enable user interaction. Examples include central heating systems, digital watches, GPS systems, fitness trackers, televisions, and engine management systems in vehicles.
4. Lighting and LED Displays: Liquid or amorphous semiconductors, often used as thin-coated films, can generate light and find use in LEDs and OLEDs.
5. Solar Cells: Silicon stands as the most widely employed semiconductor in the production of solar panel cells.
Must Read: What is an N-Type Semiconductor?