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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 non-conductors, commonly known as insulators, the conduction band is higher than that of the valence band, so it takes infeasibly high energies to delocalize their valence electrons. They are said to have a non-zero band gap.
- 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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