Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thermal equilibrium for pn junctions

To reach thermal equilibrium, electrons/holes close to the metallurgical junction diffuse across the junction into the p-type/n-type region where hardly any electrons/holes are present. This process leaves the ionized donors (acceptors) behind, creating a region around the junction, which is depleted of mobile carriers. We call this region the depletion region, extending from x = -xp to x = xn. The charge due to the ionized donors and acceptors causes an electric field, which in turn causes a drift of carriers in the opposite direction. The diffusion of carriers continues until the drift current balances the diffusion current, thereby reaching thermal equilibrium as indicated by a constant Fermi energy. This situation is shown in Figure below While in thermal equilibrium no external voltage is applied between the n-type and p-type material, there is an internal potential, fi, which is caused by the workfunction difference between the n-type and p-type semiconductors. This potential equals the built-in potential, which will be further discussed in the next section


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