Review of Semiconductor Physics
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Review of Semiconductor Physics. Energy bands. Bonding types – classroom discussion The bond picture vs. the band picture. Bonding and antibonding Conduction band and valence band. The band picture – Bloch’s Theorem. Notice it’s a theorem, not a law. Mathematically derived. The theorem:.

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Review of Semiconductor Physics

Energy bands

  • Bonding types – classroom discussion

  • The bond picture vs. the band picture

Bonding and antibonding

Conduction band and valence band

Notice it’s a theorem, not a law. Mathematically derived.

The theorem:

The eigenstates (r) of the one-electron Hamiltonian

where V(r + R) = V(r) for all R in a Bravais lattice, can be chosen to have the form of a plane wave times a function with the periodicity of the Bravais lattice:

where un,k(r + R) = un,k(r) .


Physical picture

- Wave function

Indirect gap

- Band structure

1D case

3D case

Limitations of the band theory

Static lattice: Will introduce phonons

Perfect lattice: Will introduce defects

One-electron Shrödinger Eq: We in this class will live with this

Justification: the effect of other electrons can be regarded as a kind of background.

Semi-classic theory

Free electron

Block electron

ħkis the momentum.

ħk is the crystal momentum, which is not a momentum, but is treated as momentum in the semiclassical theory.

n is the band index.

En(k) = En(k+K)





un,k(r + R) = un,k(r)

The Bloch (i.e. semiclassic) electron behaves as a particle following Newton’s laws.

(We are back in the familiar territory.)

  • With a mass m*

  • Emerging from the other side of the first Brillouin zone upon hitting a boundary

Newton’s 1st law: the Bloch electron moves forever – No resistance?

Newton’s 2nd law:

F = dp/dt = ħdk/dt

Oscillation in dc field. So far not observed yet.

Real crystals are not perfect. Defects scatter electrons. following Newton’s laws.

On average, the electron is scattered once every time period . Upon scattering, the electron forgets its previous velocity, and is “thermalized.”


Values of following Newton’s laws.k

Discrete but quasi-continuous

k = 2n/L, n = 1, 2, 3, …, N

L = Na

Run the extra mile:

Show the above by using the “periodic boundary” condition.


A vacancy in a band, i.e. a k-state missing the electron, behaves like a particle with charge +q.

Run the extra mile:

Show the above.

Review of Semiconductor Physics following Newton’s laws.

Carrier Statistics

  • Fermi-Dirac distribution

Nature prefers low energy.

Lower energy states (levels) are filled first.

Imaging filling a container w/ sands, or rice, or balls, or whatever

  • Each particle is still T = 0 K

  • Each has some energy, keeping bouncing around T > 0 K

  • Density of States

How many states are there in the energy interval dE at E?


1D case derived in class.

The take-home message: D(E)  E1/2

2D case following Newton’s laws.

Run the extra mile

Derive D(E) in 2D.

Hint: count number of k’s in 2D.

The answer:

Or, for unit area

D(E) = constant

The take-home message:

3D case

Run the extra mile

Derive D(E) in 3D.

Hint: count number of k’s in 2D.

For unit area,

The take-home message: D(E)  E1/2

Things we have ignored so far: degeneracies following Newton’s laws.

Spin degeneracy: 2

Valley degeneracy: Mc

Mc = 6 for Si

Total number of carriers per volume (carrier density, carrier concentration)

Run the extra mile

Derive the electron density n.

Hint: Fermi-Dirac distribution approximated by Boltzmann distribution.

Results for n and p are given.

p is the total number of states NOT occupied.


One way to manipulate carrier density is doping.

Doping shifts the Fermi level.

np = ni2

One small thing to keep in mind: carrier concentration)

Subtle difference in jargons used by EEs and physicists

We use the EE terminology, of course.

Fermi level

EF = EF(T)

Same concept



Chemical potential

EF = (0)

Fermi energy

We already used  for mobility.

Before we talk about device, what are semiconductors anyway? carrier concentration)

Classroom discussion

Why can we modulate their properties by orders of magnitude?

Classroom discussion

We have mentioned defect scattering: carrier concentration)

Real crystals are not perfect. Defects scatter electrons.

On average, the electron is scattered once every time period . Upon scattering, the electron forgets its previous velocity, and is “thermalized.”


Any deviation from perfect periodicity is a defect. A perfect surface is a defect.

Phonons carrier concentration)

Static lattice approximation

Atoms vibrate

Harmonic approximation

Vibration quantized

Each quantum is a phonon.

Similar to the photon:

E = ħ, p = ħk

Phonons scatter carriers, too.

The higher the temperature, the worse phonon scattering.

You can use the temperature dependence of conductivity or mobility to determine the contributions of various scattering mechanisms.

Phonons carrier concentration)

 = vk

Sound wave in continuous media

Microscopically, the solid is discrete.

Phonon dispersion

Wave vector folding, first Brillouin zone.

Watch video at

Recall that

Crystal structure = Bravais lattice + basis

If there are more than 1 atom in the basis, optical phonons

Phonons in the 3D world -- Si carrier concentration)

In 3D, there are transverse and longitudinal waves.

E = h = ħ

62 meV

15 THz

When electron energy is low, the electron only interacts with acoustic phonons,

v carrier concentration)d



Optical phonons and transport

At low fields,

= 38 meV

vth = 2.3 × 107 cm/s

For Si,

At high fields, vd comparable to vth

Electrons get energy from the field, hotter than the lattice – hot electrons

When the energy of hot electrons becomes comparable to that of optical phonons, energy is transferred to the lattice via optical phonons.

Velocity saturation

For Si, vsat ~ 107 cm/s

Alloys carrier concentration)

Compounds, alloys, heterostructures

InP, GaAs, …, SiC

InxGa1-xAsyP1-y, …, SixGe1-x


Band structure of alloys

  • Topics carrier concentration)

  • Review of Semiconductor physics

    • Crystal structure, band structures, band structure modification by alloys, heterostructurs, and strain

    • Carrier statistics

    • Scattering, defects, phonons, mobility, transport in heterostructures

  • Device concepts


    • Heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBT)

    • Semiconductor processing

    • Photodiodes, LEDs, semiconductor lasers

    • (optional) resonant tunneling devices, quantum interference devices, single electron transistors, quantum dot computing, ...

    • Introduction to nanoelectronics

We will discuss heterostructures in the context of devices.

More discussions on semiconductor physics will be embedded in the device context.