Introduction Semiconductor is a solid substance that has conductivity between that of an insulator and that of most metals, either due to the addition of an impurity or because of temperature effects. Devices made of semiconductors, notably silicon, are essential components of most electronic circuits. Examples: Silicon, Germanium, Carbon Intrinsic & Extrinsic Semiconductor Semiconductors are mainly classified into two categories: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. An intrinsic semiconductor material is chemically very pure and possesses poor conductivity. It has equal numbers of negative carriers (electrons) and positive carriers (holes). Where as an extrinsic semiconductor is an improved intrinsic semiconductor with a small amount of impurities added. The Doping of Semiconductors The addition of a small percentage of foreign atoms in the regular crystal lattice of silicon or germanium produces dramatic changes in their electrical properties, producing n-type and p-type semiconductors. Pentavalent impurities Impurity atoms with 5 valence electrons produce n-type semiconductors by contributing extra electrons. Trivalent impurities Impurity atoms with 3 valence electrons produce p-type semiconductors by producing a "hole" or electron deficiency. N-Type Semiconductor The addition of pentavalent impurities such as antimony, arsenic or phosphorous contributes free electrons, greatly increasing the conductivity of the intrinsic semiconductor. Phosphorous may be added by diffusion of phosphine gas (PH3). P-Type Semiconductor The addition of trivalent impurities such as boron, aluminum or gallium to an intrinsic semiconductor creates deficiencies of valence electrons,called "holes". It is typical to use B2H6 diborane gas to diffuse boron into the silicon material. Diodes A device that blocks current in one direction while letting current flow in another direction is called a diode. Diodes can be used in a number of ways. For example, a device that uses batteries often contains a diode that protects the device if you insert the batteries backward. The diode simply blocks any current from leaving the battery if it is reversed -- this protects the sensitive electronics in the device.