n-type and p-type Semiconductor

In general, there are two types of dopant atoms resulting in two types of extrinsic semiconductors. These dopants that produce the desired controlled changes are classified as either electron acceptors or donors and the corresponding doped semiconductors are known as:

  • n-type Semiconductors.
  • p-type Semiconductors.

Extrinsic semiconductors are components of many common electrical devices, as well of many detectors of ionizing radiation. For these purpose, a semiconductor diode (devices that allow current in only one direction) usually consists of p-type and n-type semiconductors placed in junction with one another.

n-type Semiconductors

extrinsic - doped semiconductor - n-type - donorAn extrinsic semiconductor which has been doped with electron donor atoms is called an n-type semiconductor, because the majority of charge carriers in the crystal are negative electrons. Since silicon is a tetravalent element, the normal crystal structure contains 4 covalent bonds from four valence electrons. In silicon, the most common dopants are group III and group V elements. Group V elements (pentavalent) have five valence electrons, which allows them to act as a donor. That means, the addition of these pentavalent impurities such as arsenic, antimony or phosphorus contributes free electrons, greatly increasing the conductivity of the intrinsic semiconductor. For example, a silicon crystal doped with boron (group III) creates a p-type semiconductor whereas a crystal doped with phosphorus (group V) results in an n-type semiconductor.

The conduction electrons are completely dominated by the number of donor electrons. Therefore:

The total number of conduction electrons is approximately equal to the number of donor sites, n≈ND.

Charge neutrality of semiconductor material is maintained because excited donor sites balance the conduction electrons. The net result is that the number of conduction electrons is increased, while the number of holes is reduced. The imbalance of the carrier concentration in the respective bands is expressed by the different absolute number of electrons and holes. Electrons are majority carriers, while holes are minority carriers in n-type material.

p-type Semiconductors

extrinsic - doped semiconductor - p-type - acceptorAn extrinsic semiconductor which has been doped with electron acceptor atoms is called a p-type semiconductor, because the majority of charge carriers in the crystal are electron holes (positive charge carriers). The pure semiconductor silicon is a tetravalent element, the normal crystal structure contains 4 covalent bonds from four valence electrons. In silicon, the most common dopants are group III and group V elements. Group III elements (trivalent) all contain three valence electrons, causing them to function as acceptors when used to dope silicon. When an acceptor atom replaces a tetravalent silicon atom in the crystal, a vacant state (an electron hole) is created. An electron hole (often simply called a hole) is the lack of an electron at a position where one could exist in an atom or atomic lattice. It is one of the two types of charge carriers that are responsible for creating electric current in semiconducting materials. These positively charged holes can move from atom to atom in semiconducting materials as electrons leave their positions. The addition of trivalent impurities such as boron, aluminum or gallium to an intrinsic semiconductor creates these positive electron holes in the structure.  For example, a silicon crystal doped with boron (group III) creates a p-type semiconductor whereas a crystal doped with phosphorus (group V) results in an n-type semiconductor.

The number of electron holes are completely dominated by the number of acceptor sites. Therefore:

The total number of holes is approximately equal to the number of donor sites, p ≈ NA.

Charge neutrality of this semiconductor material is also maintained. The net result is that the number of electron holes is increased, while the number of conduction electrons is reduced. The imbalance of the carrier concentration in the respective bands is expressed by the different absolute number of electrons and holes. Electron holes are majority carriers, while electrons are minority carriers in p-type material.

References:

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See above:

Types of Semiconductors