Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Structure and principle of operation of pn junction

A p-n junction consists of two semiconductor regions with opposite doping type as shown in Figure below. The region on the left is p-type with an acceptor density Na, while the region on the right is n-type with a donor density Nd. The dopants are assumed to be shallow, so that the electron (hole) density in the n-type (p-type) region is approximately equal to the donor (acceptor) density. We will assume, unless stated otherwise, that the doped regions are uniformly doped and that the transition between the two regions is abrupt. We will refer to this structure as an abrupt p-n junction. Frequently we will deal with p-n junctions in which one side is distinctly higher-doped than the other. We will find that in such a case only the low-doped region needs to be considered, since it primarily determines the device characteristics. We will refer to such a structure as a one-sided abrupt p-n junction. The junction is biased with a voltage Va as shown in Figure above. We will call the junction forward-biased if a positive voltage is applied to the p-doped region and reversed-biased if a negative voltage is applied to the p-doped region. The contact to the p-type region is also called the anode, while the contact to the n-type region is called the cathode, in reference to the anions or positive carriers and cations or negative carriers in each of these regions.


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