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A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Semiconductors are the foundation of modern electronics. Semiconducting materials exist in two types - elemental materials and compound materials. [1] The modern understanding of the properties of a semiconductor relies on quantum physics to explain the movement of electrons and holes in a crystal lattice. [2] The unique arrangement of the crystal lattice makes silicon and germanium the most commonly used elements in the preparation of semiconducting materials. An increased knowledge of semiconductor materials and fabrication processes has made possible continuing increases in the complexity and speed of microprocessors and memory devices. Some of the information on this page may be outdated within a year, due to the fact that new discoveries are made in the field frequently. [2]

The electrical conductivity of a semiconductor material increases with increasing temperature, which is behaviour opposite to that of a metal. Semiconductor devices can display a range of useful properties such as passing current more easily in one direction than the other, showing variable resistance, and sensitivity to light or heat. Because the electrical properties of a semiconductor material can be modified by controlled addition of impurities, or by the application of electrical fields or light, devices made from semiconductors can be used for amplification, switching, and energy conversion.

Current conduction in a semiconductor occurs through the movement of free electrons and "holes", collectively known as charge carriers. Adding impurity atoms to a semiconducting material, known as "doping", greatly increases the number of charge carriers within it. When a doped semiconductor contains mostly free holes it is called "p-type", and when it contains mostly free electrons it is known as "n-type". The semiconductor materials used in electronic devices are doped under precise conditions to control the location and concentration of p- and n-type dopants. A single semiconductor crystal can have many p- and n-type regions; the p–n junctions between these regions are responsible for the useful electronic behaviour.

Some of the properties of semiconductor materials were observed throughout the mid 19th and first decades of the 20th century. Development of quantum physics in turn allowed the development of the transistor in 1947. [3] Although some pure elements and many compounds display semiconductor properties, silicon, germanium, and compounds of gallium are the most widely used in electronic devices. Elements near the so-called "metalloid staircase", where the metalloids are located on the periodic table, are usually used as semiconductors.

The nickname of the southern area of Northern California is dubbed Silicon Valley because of all the influential tech companies that have their headquarters there. An integral part of today’s technology is built upon semiconductors, which are made primarily of silicon. Some major companies includes Marvell Technology Group, National Semiconductor, and Advanced Micro Devices.[4]

 
 
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