Question
Thu August 09, 2012 By: Pramesha Biswas
 

Silicon is an insulator but silicon doped with phosphorous acts as a semiconductor.Give reason.

Expert Reply
Fri August 10, 2012
Semiconductors materials such as silicon (Si), germanium (Ge) and gallium arsenide (GaAs), have electrical properties somewhere in the middle, between those of a "conductor" and an "insulator". They are not good conductors nor good insulators (hence their name "semi"-conductors). They have very few "fee electrons" because their atoms are closely grouped together in a crystalline pattern called a "crystal lattice". However, their ability to conduct electricity can be greatly improved by adding certain "impurities" to this crystalline structure thereby, producing more free electrons than holes or vice versa. 
 
 
Silicon has four valence electrons in its outermost shell which it shares with its neighbouring silicon atoms to form full orbital's of eight electrons. The structure of the bond between the two silicon atoms is such that each atom shares one electron with its neighbour making the bond very stable. Substituting a phosphorus atom (with five valence electrons) for a silicon atom in a silicon crystal leaves an extra, unbonded electron that is relatively free to move around the crystal.
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