Silicon Essay

1356 words - 5 pages

Whipped this out in a matter of hours for the english teacher well writtenSilicon is the raw material most often used in integrated circuit (IC)fabrication. It is the second most abundant substance on the earth. It isextracted from rocks and common beach sand and put through an exhaustivepurification process. In this form, silicon is the purist industrialsubstance that man produces, with impurities comprising less than one part ina billion. That is the equivalent of one tennis ball in a string of golfballs stretching from the earth to the moon.Semiconductors are usually materials which have energy-band gaps smallerthan 2eV. An important property of semiconductors is the ability to changetheir resistivity over several orders of magnitude by doping. Semiconductorshave electrical resistivities between 10-5 and 107 ohms.Semiconductors can be crystalline or amorphous. Elemental semiconductorsare simple-element semiconductor materials such as silicon or germanium.Silicon is the most common semiconductor material used today. It isused for diodes, transistors, integrated circuits, memories, infrareddetection and lenses, light-emitting diodes (LED), photosensors, straingages, solar cells, charge transfer devices, radiation detectors and avariety of other devices. Silicon belongs to the group IV in the periodictable. It is a grey brittle material with a diamond cubic structure.Silicon is conventionally doped with Phosphorus, Arsenic and Antimony andBoron, Aluminum, and Gallium acceptors. The energy gap of silicon is 1.1eV. This value permits the operation of silicon semiconductors devices athigher temperatures than germanium.Now I will give you some brief history of the evolution of electronicswhich will help you understand more about semiconductors and the siliconchip. In the early 1900's before integrated circuits and silicon chipswere invented, computers and radios were made with vacuum tubes. Thevacuum tube was invented in 1906 by Dr.Lee DeForest. Throughout the firsthalf of the 20th century, vacuum tubes were used to conduct, modulate andamplify electrical signals. They made possible a variety of new productsincluding the radio and the computer. However vacuum tubes had someinherent problems. They were bulky, delicate and expensive, consumed agreat deal of power, took time to warm up, got very hot, and eventuallyburned out. The first digital computer contained 18,000 vacuum tubes,weighed 50 tins, and required 140 kilowatts of power.By the 1930's, researchers at the Bell Telephone Laboratories werelooking for a replacement for the vacuum tube. They began studying theelectrical properties of semiconductors which are non-metallic substances,such as silicon, that are neither conductors of electricity, like metal,nor insulators like wood, but whose electrical properties lie between theseextremes. By 1947 the transistor was invented. The Bell Labs researchteam sought a way of directly altering the electrical properties ofsemiconductor material. They learned...

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