Activation Energy of Semiconductors: The Role of Temperature and Its Effects

Activation Energy of Semiconductors- The Role of Temperature and Its Effects _ H

Semiconductors are the revolutionizing agent of modern technology. It created a wave that has continued to shape how the world uses electronic devices. Semiconductors, as the name implies, can act as both electrical insulators and conductors at certain temperatures and conditions. Among many of the characteristics, one critical characteristic is the activation energy of the semiconductor material. 

In this blog article, we will talk about the role of temperature in aiding the activation energy of semiconductor materials, and also the effects on their electrical properties. Also, we will be introducing to you the two band theories that are affected by the temperature of a semiconductor. We will also discuss how actual temperature can affect semiconductors and their conductivity, how doping of the semiconductors reacts to a particular temperature, and some practical applications of this knowledge in the field of semiconductor devices. So, let us get started,

What Is the Activation Energy in a Semiconductor?

Image of a semiconductor chip

Semiconductors are special materials that are not as good at conducting electricity as metals but not as bad as insulators like ceramics. This property makes them very useful for building electronic devices because they can control the flow of electricity in a very precise way. Engineers use them to make many devices, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), field-effect transistors (FETs), and solar cells. The topic of activation energies arises whenever we talk about semiconductors. As you know, semiconductors function due to their activation energy.

In recent years, there has been a lot of enthusiasm for developing electronic equipment using semiconductors. To do this, we need to understand the fundamental physics of the activation energy of semiconductors and how accurately model charge moves through them. The charge-carrier mobility is one important factor that affects the performance of these devices. Mobility is the ability of charge carriers to move through a material under the influence of an electric field.

The activation energy is the energy required to move a charge carrier electron from one energy level to another. In semiconductors, which are made of compounds such as Gallium arsenide or pure elements, such as Germanium or Silicon, the activation energy is the energy difference between the transport level and the Fermi energy level or the energy difference between the trap state and the conduction band gap.

The activation energy required is one factor that influences how charge carriers move through the material. Other factors include the distance that the carriers have to travel to the adjacent polymer chain and the energy levels of the hopping sites that the carriers have enough energy to hop to. 

In semiconductors, the electron temperature is much higher than the device temperature due to the energy acquired by the electrons from the applied electric field. This excess energy reduces the effective activation energy by the electrons, which is the effective energy difference between the transport level and the Fermi energy level.

So, understanding how semiconductors work and how charge carriers move through them, means the activation level of semiconductors is crucial for developing new and better electronic devices as well as the levels of transport and fermi energy. By optimizing temperature and developing new materials, we can improve charge-carrier mobility and design organic circuits to realize flexible electronics.

How Does Temperature Affect Semiconductors?

Heating a metal

If it starts from the roots, you know that electrical conductivity refers to a substance’s ability to conduct electricity. A substance that conducts electricity is called a conductor, while one that does not is known as an insulator. Copper is an excellent conductor, while rubber is a good insulator. Semiconductors, on the other hand, are materials that are somewhere between the two. The most commonly used semiconductor today is silicon.

To determine a substance’s electrical properties, we measure its resistivity, also known as electrical resistivity. Conductors have low resistance, which allows them to conduct electricity easily. In contrast, insulators have high resistance, making it challenging for electricity to pass through them. Semiconductors, which contain few impurities, conduct very little electricity.

However, when we add elements to semiconductors, electricity can pass through them more easily. When the absolute temperature of a semiconductor is increased, the activation energy decreases, and so does the resistance, which increases its conductivity.

In conductors, an increase in absolute temperature causes an increase in resistance. This means that as the temperature of a conductor increases, it becomes harder for electricity to pass through it. In contrast, the resistance of semiconductors decreases with an increase in temperature. This means that it becomes easier for electricity to pass through them as the temperature is increased.

Semiconductors like Germanium and Silicon have a negative temperature coefficient of resistance. This means that as the temperature of these materials increases, the number of free electrons in the valence band increases. The breaking of the covalent bond at higher temperatures enables more electrons to reach the conduction band, resulting in a decrease in the resistance of the semiconductor material.

To understand this better, we can think of what happens to the atoms and electrons in a semiconductor when increasing temperature. When the temperature of a semiconductor is increased, both the atoms and the electrons gain more energy. 

This causes the atoms to vibrate more, increasing the scattering of electrons. In both regular metal conductors and semiconductors, an increase in temperature causes more electrons to jump from the valence band to the conduction band. This results in greater free movement between the two bands, which leads to an increase in conductivity.

So, the relationship between conductivity and temperature in semiconductors is essential. In short, the conductivity of a semiconductor increases as the temperature increases, making it a vital property for the functioning of many electronic devices, such as computers and smartphones. Semiconductors are used in electronic devices because they can be controlled to switch between conductive and non-conductive states. By changing the temperature of a semiconductor, we can regulate its conductivity and use it to create electronic devices that are more efficient and effective.

Now you understand that the relationship between conductivity and temperature in semiconductors is crucial for the development of modern technology. 

What Are Valence and Conduction Bands?

Valence and conduction bands of an atom

Semiconductors have two different band models that account for the complete process of activation energy: the valence band which is full of electrons, and the conduction band which has no electrons. These are the components that face chemical reactions when the Arrhenius equation and mechanism happen inside a semiconductor. The intrinsic semiconductor is the number of electrons in the conduction band or the number of holes in the valence band in the intrinsic material.

Valence Band

Think of an atom as a house with different floors. The outermost floor is called the valence band, and it is where electrons like to hang out. When they get really excited, they can jump from the valence band to another floor called the conduction band. Once they are on the conduction band, they can move around and create an electrical current. 

Conduction Band

For example, a conduction band is like a busy highway where electrons can move around and conduct electricity. Electrons can jump onto this highway from the valence band when they become excited. Once they are on the highway, they are free to move around inside the material. When lots of electrons move around like this, they create something called an electrical current, which is like the flow of water in a river. This is why the conduction band is really important for making things work.

Applications and Implications of Temperature Dependence in Semiconductor Technology

Temperature dependence is an important concept in semiconductor technology because it affects how well semiconductors work under different conditions.

Illustration of the electronic world

One of the applications of temperature dependence is in thermistors, which are electronic devices that can measure temperature. Thermistors use the temperature dependence of resistance in semiconductors to measure temperature changes. As the temperature changes, the resistance of the semiconductor changes, and this change can be measured and used to determine the temperature.

Another application is in temperature compensation circuits, which are used to maintain a constant output voltage or current despite temperature changes. Temperature compensation circuits use semiconductors that have a predictable temperature dependence to adjust the output voltage or current as temperature changes.

On the other hand, temperature dependence can also have negative implications in semiconductor technology. For example, if a semiconductor device is designed without considering its temperature dependence, it may not work properly under certain conditions. This can lead to failures or reduced performance, which can be costly and dangerous in some cases.

Therefore, understanding temperature dependence in semiconductor technology is crucial for developing reliable and efficient electronic devices.

Applications and Implications of Temperature Dependence in Semiconductor Technology

Today’s Technology Runs on Semiconductors

As you see, semiconductors have revolutionized the way we live and work by enabling the development of advanced technologies that we rely on every day. From smartphones to computers to solar panels, semiconductors are essential parts of modern electronics. As technology continues to grow, the field of semiconductor technology will also expand. People around the world are researching and developing new materials and devices that will drive the next generation of technological innovations. If this is so, we can say that semiconductors will continue to be a huge part of our world in the years to come.

If you want to know more about semiconductors and all their aspects of them you can visit our Inquivix blog to gain more knowledge on the semiconductor industry. Also, we provide all the customized facilities related to semiconductors for clients from automotive, aerospace, transportation, telecommunication, healthcare, etc. Based in South Korea, we specialize in the field of semiconductors and technology as the pioneer among other semiconductor companies in the region. If you are interested in sourcing the highest quality semiconductor components from South Korea and Asia, visit Inquivix Technologies.


How Do You Find the Activation Energy of a Semiconductor?

According to the leading and independent science references that have expressed their opinions on activation energy, it can be calculated as this:(Notice that when the Arrhenius equation is rearranged as it is a linear equation with the form) y = mx + b; y is ln(k), x is 1/T, and m is -Ea/R. The activation energy for the reaction can be determined by finding the slope of the line. E_act=Ec-F-TdF/dT, where F is the Fermi energy. In the intrinsic semiconductor at T=0 E_act=1/2Eg. for the n-type and T=0, E_act=1/2(Ec-Ed), Ed is the donor level, Ec-conduction band energy. 

What Is the Difference between a Chip and a Semiconductor?

Chips is a generally used term for products using semiconductor components. They are the carriers used in integrated circuits. A semiconductor is a material that shows both electrical conduction and insulation properties depending on the temperature and other factors.

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