Intrinsic And Extrinsic Semiconductors   Basic Electronics Concept    Intermediate Electronics
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Home > Intermediate Electronics > Junction Transistor > Intrinsic And Extrinsic Semiconductors
Intrinsic And Extrinsic Semiconductors

An intrinsic semiconductor is one, which is pure enough that impurities do not appreciably affect its electrical behavior. In this case, all carriers are created due to thermally or optically excited electrons from the full valence band into the empty conduction band. Thus equal numbers of electrons and holes are present in an intrinsic semiconductor. Electrons and holes flow in opposite directions in an electric field, though they contribute to current in the same direction since they are oppositely charged. Hole current and electron current are not necessarily equal in an intrinsic semiconductor, however, because electrons and holes have different effective masses (crystalline analogues to free inertial masses).

The concentration of carriers is strongly dependent on the temperature. At low temperatures, the valence band is completely full making the material an insulator. Increasing the temperature leads to an increase in the number of carriers and a corresponding increase in conductivity. This characteristic shown by intrinsic semiconductor is different from the behavior of most metals, which tend to become less conductive at higher temperatures due to increased phonon scattering.

An extrinsic semiconductor is one that has been doped with impurities to modify the number and type of free charge carriers.

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