Semiconductors: What You Need To Know


Most people have heard of semiconductors but that doesn’t mean they know about them. Lets start with an introduction to the topic that will help you understand everything about the subject.

Definition of semiconductors

The term semiconductor refers to an item designed to control the flow of current in all electrical gadgets and equipment. It works by either allowing electric current to flow freely or by stopping it completely. A semiconductor is usually found between a conductor and an insulator especially in the processing of electric chips and computer devices. It is made with pure elements such as germanium and silicon which are mixed with impurities to create the semiconductor. The impurities then determine the conductance or inductance of the element used.

There are two major types of semiconductors namely the n-type and p-type. The former is applicable in cases where there are many free electrons creating high “conductance” while the latter is applicable when there are less free electrons resulting in higher inductance.  Common examples of things built with semiconductors are transistors, integrated circuits, computer memory, and diodes.

Elements involved in creating semiconductors

One of the main elements used in making semiconductors is silicon which is also the most “abundant” element in this planet. Its weight covers 25% of earth’s crust but it’s not available as a free element. It is available in the form of oxides and silicates such as Jasper, Flint, citrine, quartz, and sand among others. The metal comes as a result of a reaction between carbon minerals and silicon dioxides such as coal and wood chips. Silicon for wafers has many suppliers in different parts of the world with the majority of the product believed o come from China. Europe and the United States also produce a large quantity of silicon.

The second most commonly used element in the creation of silicone is germanium which has reactive properties and is not available as a free element either. Although it can be removed from copper ores and fly ash coal, it can also be gotten from sphalerite zinc ores. Its high cost and thermal sensitivity make its use less popular than silicon, especially in high-speed devices.

New semiconductors

Due to their value, most companies usually try out new ways of creating semiconductors with the search starting at the periodic table.
The IVA column at the periodic table offers guidance and it shows that both silicon and germanium cannot exchange electricity with light. Since each element forms bonds by sharing their elements with four of their neighbors, the strongest group of elements including those that can be used as semiconductors.

Boosting semiconductor productivity

Producing semiconductors is known to be very profitable and for this reason, it is a priority in China. it is reported that China integrated circuit industry investment fund would provide funds to help improve the design and manufacture of advanced processors. The exact amount of the fund remains unclear but it was reported that it wasn’t less than $19billion.

How it would improve the design and manufacture of advanced microprocessors
In order to supply the huge electronics market, China has increased the efforts to create a local semiconductor industry and is willing to spend$151 billion in the coming years to see it through.  The ongoing trade disputes with the US has driven chin to rush this local semiconductor production.

The offer to buy more semiconductors from the US

Due to the dispute, China also offered to purchase more semiconductors from the US to help their trade surplus with the United States. China is also in a hurry to complete new regulations meant to give room to foreign entities to acquire big stakes in security companies.

More tension

A lawsuit involving a former Huawei employee and the US is threatening to intensify the tension that already exists between China and the US. It involves allegations of the theft of a semiconductor technology and the judgment will be determined by a federal court in Texas.

Metal-air transistors

This is a new technology that has the potential to replace semiconductors. Instead of using silicon transistors, this technology will use a metal-based field emission air channel transistor thereby eliminating the need for semiconductors. It uses two in-plane symmetric metals as electrodes which are then separated by a gap, and a bottom metal which aids with the field transmission.


Like other areas of technology, the sector of semiconductors are also changing. This technology will, therefore, be completely new in a few years regardless of whether it’s a result of two countries or just new innovations.


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