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The conduction band quantifies the range of energy required to free an electron from its bond to an atom. Once freed from this bond, the electron becomes a 'delocalized electron', moving freely within the atomic lattice of the material to which the atom belongs. Various materials may be classified by their band gap: this is defined as the difference between the valence and conduction bands.
- In insulators, the conduction band is much higher in energy than the valence band and it takes large energies to delocalize their valence electrons. Insulating materials have wide band gaps.
- In semiconductors, the band gap is small. This explains why it takes a little energy (in the form of heat or light) to make semiconductors' electrons delocalize and conduct electricity, hence the name, semiconductor.
- In metals, the Fermi level is inside at least one band. These Fermi-level-crossing bands may be called conduction band, valence band, or something else depending on circumstance.
Semiconductor band structure
See electrical conduction and semiconductor for a more detailed description of band structure.
- Band theory
- Electrical conduction for more information about conduction in solids, and another description of band structure.
- Fermi sea
- Semiconductor for a full explanation of the band structure of materials.
- Valence band
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