List of semiconductor materials

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Semiconductor materials are nominally small band gap insulators. The defining property of a semiconductor material is that it can be doped with impurities that alter its electronic properties in a controllable way.[citation needed]

Because of their application in the computer and photovoltaic industry—in devices such as transistors, lasers and solar cells—the search for new semiconductor materials and the improvement of existing materials is an important field of study in materials science.

Most commonly used semiconductor materials are crystalline inorganic solids. These materials are classified according to the periodic table groups of their constituent atoms.

Different semiconductor materials differ in their properties. Thus, in comparison with silicon, compound semiconductors have both advantages and disadvantages. For example, gallium arsenide (GaAs) has six times higher electron mobility than silicon, which allows faster operation; wider band gap, which allows operation of power devices at higher temperatures, and gives lower thermal noise to low power devices at room temperature; its direct band gap gives it more favorable optoelectronic properties than the indirect band gap of silicon; it can be alloyed to ternary and quaternary compositions, with adjustable band gap width, allowing light emission at chosen wavelengths, and allowing e.g. matching to wavelengths with lowest losses in optical fibers. GaAs can be also grown in a semi-insulating form, which is suitable as a lattice-matching insulating substrate for GaAs devices. Conversely, silicon is robust, cheap, and easy to process, whereas GaAs is brittle and expensive, and insulation layers can not be created by just growing an oxide layer; GaAs is therefore used only where silicon is not sufficient.[1]

By alloying multiple compounds, some semiconductor materials are tunable, e.g., in band gap or lattice constant. The result is ternary, quaternary, or even quinary compositions. Ternary compositions allow adjusting the band gap within the range of the involved binary compounds; however, in case of combination of direct and indirect band gap materials there is a ratio where indirect band gap prevails, limiting the range usable for optoelectronics; e.g. AlGaAs LEDs are limited to 660 nm by this. Lattice constants of the compounds also tend to be different, and the lattice mismatch against the substrate, dependent on the mixing ratio, causes defects in amounts dependent on the mismatch magnitude; this influences the ratio of achievable radiative/nonradiative recombinations and determines the luminous efficiency of the device. Quaternary and higher compositions allow adjusting simultaneously the band gap and the lattice constant, allowing increasing radiant efficiency at wider range of wavelengths; for example AlGaInP is used for LEDs . Materials transparent to the generated wavelength of light are advantageous, as this allows more efficient extraction of photons from the bulk of the material. That is, in such transparent materials, light production is not limited to just the surface. Index of refraction is also composition-dependent and influences the extraction efficiency of photons from the material.[2]

Types of semiconductor materials[edit]

Table of semiconductor materials[edit]

Group Elem. Material Formula Band gap (eV) Gap type Description
IV 1 Diamond C 5.47[3][4] indirect Excellent thermal conductivity. Superior mechanical and optical properties. Extremely high mechanical quality factor.[5]
IV 1 Silicon Si 1.12[3][4] indirect Used in conventional crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells, and in its amorphous form as amorphous silicon (a-Si) in thin film solar cells. Most common semiconductor material in photovoltaics; dominates worldwide PV market; easy to fabricate; good electrical and mechanical properties. Forms high quality thermal oxide for insulation purposes.
IV 1 Germanium Ge 0.67[3][4] indirect Used in early radar detection diodes and first transistors; requires lower purity than silicon. A substrate for high-efficiency multijunction photovoltaic cells. Very similar lattice constant to gallium arsenide. High-purity crystals used for gamma spectroscopy. May grow whiskers, which impair reliability of some devices.
IV 1 Gray tin, α-Sn Sn 0.00,[6] 0.08[7] indirect Low temperature allotrope (diamond cubic lattice).
IV 2 Silicon carbide, 3C-SiC SiC 2.3[3] indirect used for early yellow LEDs
IV 2 Silicon carbide, 4H-SiC SiC 3.3[3] indirect
IV 2 Silicon carbide, 6H-SiC SiC 3.0[3] indirect used for early blue LEDs
VI 1 Sulfur, α-S S8 2.6[8]
VI 1 Gray selenium Se 1.74 Used in selenium rectifiers.
VI 1 Tellurium Te 0.33
III-V 2 Boron nitride, cubic BN 6.36[9] indirect potentially useful for ultraviolet LEDs
III-V 2 Boron nitride, hexagonal BN 5.96[9] quasi-direct potentially useful for ultraviolet LEDs
III-V 2 Boron nitride nanotube BN ~5.5
III-V 2 Boron phosphide BP 2 indirect
III-V 2 Boron arsenide BAs 1.5 indirect Resistant to radiation damage, possible applications in betavoltaics.
III-V 2 Boron arsenide B12As2 3.47 indirect Resistant to radiation damage, possible applications in betavoltaics.
III-V 2 Aluminium nitride AlN 6.28[3] direct Piezoelectric. Not used on its own as a semiconductor; AlN-close GaAlN possibly usable for ultraviolet LEDs. Inefficient emission at 210 nm was achieved on AlN.
III-V 2 Aluminium phosphide AlP 2.45[4] indirect
III-V 2 Aluminium arsenide AlAs 2.16[4] indirect
III-V 2 Aluminium antimonide AlSb 1.6/2.2[4] indirect/direct
III-V 2 Gallium nitride GaN 3.44[3][4] direct problematic to be doped to p-type, p-doping with Mg and annealing allowed first high-efficiency blue LEDs[2] and blue lasers. Very sensitive to ESD. Insensitive to ionizing radiation, suitable for spacecraft solar panels. GaN transistors can operate at higher voltages and higher temperatures than GaAs, used in microwave power amplifiers. When doped with e.g. manganese, becomes a magnetic semiconductor.
III-V 2 Gallium phosphide GaP 2.26[3][4] indirect Used in early low to medium brightness cheap red/orange/green LEDs. Used standalone or with GaAsP. Transparent for yellow and red light, used as substrate for GaAsP red/yellow LEDs. Doped with S or Te for n-type, with Zn for p-type. Pure GaP emits green, nitrogen-doped GaP emits yellow-green, ZnO-doped GaP emits red.
III-V 2 Gallium arsenide GaAs 1.43[3][4] direct second most common in use after silicon, commonly used as substrate for other III-V semiconductors, e.g. InGaAs and GaInNAs. Brittle. Lower hole mobility than Si, P-type CMOS transistors unfeasible. High impurity density, difficult to fabricate small structures. Used for near-IR LEDs, fast electronics, and high-efficiency solar cells. Very similar lattice constant to germanium, can be grown on germanium substrates.
III-V 2 Gallium antimonide GaSb 0.726[3][4] direct Used for infrared detectors and LEDs and thermophotovoltaics. Doped n with Te, p with Zn.
III-V 2 Indium nitride InN 0.7[3] direct Possible use in solar cells, but p-type doping difficult. Used frequently as alloys.
III-V 2 Indium phosphide InP 1.35[3] direct Commonly used as substrate for epitaxial InGaAs. Superior electron velocity, used in high-power and high-frequency applications. Used in optoelectronics.
III-V 2 Indium arsenide InAs 0.36[3] direct Used for infrared detectors for 1–3.8 µm, cooled or uncooled. High electron mobility. InAs dots in InGaAs matrix can serve as quantum dots. Quantum dots may be formed from a monolayer of InAs on InP or GaAs. Strong photo-Dember emitter, used as a terahertz radiation source.
III-V 2 Indium antimonide InSb 0.17[3] direct Used in infrared detectors and thermal imaging sensors, high quantum efficiency, low stability, require cooling, used in military long-range thermal imager systems. AlInSb-InSb-AlInSb structure used as quantum well. Very high electron mobility, electron velocity and ballistic length. Transistors can operate below 0.5V and above 200 GHz. Terahertz frequencies maybe achievable.
II-VI 2 Cadmium selenide CdSe 1.74[4] direct Nanoparticles used as quantum dots. Intrinsic n-type, difficult to dope p-type, but can be p-type doped with nitrogen. Possible use in optoelectronics. Tested for high-efficiency solar cells.
II-VI 2 Cadmium sulfide CdS 2.42[4] direct Used in photoresistors and solar cells; CdS/Cu2S was the first efficient solar cell. Used in solar cells with CdTe. Common as quantum dots. Crystals can act as solid-state lasers. Electroluminescent. When doped, can act as a phosphor.
II-VI 2 Cadmium telluride CdTe 1.49[4] Used in solar cells with CdS. Used in thin film solar cells and other cadmium telluride photovoltaics; less efficient than crystalline silicon but cheaper. High electro-optic effect, used in electro-optic modulators. Fluorescent at 790 nm. Nanoparticles usable as quantum dots.
II-VI, oxide 2 Zinc oxide ZnO 3.37[4] direct Photocatalytic. Bandwidth tunable from 3 to 4 eV by alloying with magnesium oxide and cadmium oxide. Intrinsic n-type, p-type doping is difficult. Heavy aluminium, indium, or gallium doping yields transparent conductive coatings; ZnO:Al is used as window coatings transparent in visible and reflective in infrared region and as conductive films in LCD displays and solar panels as a replacement of indium tin oxide. Resistant to radiation damage. Possible use in LEDs and laser diodes. Possible use in random lasers.
II-VI 2 Zinc selenide ZnSe 2.7[4] direct Used for blue lasers and LEDs. Easy to n-type doping, p-type doping is difficult but can be done with e.g. nitrogen. Common optical material in infrared optics.
II-VI 2 Zinc sulfide ZnS 3.54/3.91[4] direct Band gap 3.54 eV (cubic), 3.91 (hexagonal). Can be doped both n-type and p-type. Common scintillator/phosphor when suitably doped.
II-VI 2 Zinc telluride ZnTe 2.25[4] direct Can be grown on AlSb, GaSb, InAs, and PbSe. Used in solar cells, compoments of microwave generators, blue LEDs and lasers. Used in electrooptics. Together with lithium niobate used to generate terahertz radiation.
I-VII 2 Cuprous chloride CuCl 3.4[10] direct
I-VI 2 Copper sulfide Cu2S 1.2 direct p-type, Cu2S/CdS was the first efficient thin film solar cell
IV-VI 2 Lead selenide PbSe 0.27 direct Used in infrared detectors for thermal imaging. Nanocrystals usable as quantum dots.
IV-VI 2 Lead(II) sulfide PbS 0.37 Mineral galena, first semiconductor in practical use, used in cat's whisker detectors; the detectors are slow due to high dielectric constant of PbS. Oldest material used in infrared detectors. At room temperature can detect SWIR, longer wavelengths require cooling.
IV-VI 2 Lead telluride PbTe 0.32 Low thermal conductivity, good thermoelectric material.
IV-VI 2 Tin sulfide SnS 1.3/1.0[11] direct/indirect Tin sulfide (SnS) is a semiconductor with direct optical band gap of 1.3 eV and absorption coefficient above 104 cm-1 for photon energies above 1.3 eV. It is a p-type semiconductor whose electrical properties can be tailored by doping and structural modification and has emerged as one of the simple, non-toxic and affordable material for thin films solar cells since a decade.
IV-VI 2 Tin sulfide SnS2 2.2
IV-VI 2 Tin telluride SnTe Complex band structure.
IV-VI 3 Lead tin telluride PbSnTe Used in infrared detectors and for thermal imaging.
IV-VI 3 Thallium tin telluride Tl2SnTe5
IV-VI 3 Thallium germanium telluride Tl2GeTe5
V-VI, layered 2 Bismuth telluride Bi2Te3 Efficient thermoelectric material when alloyed with selenium or antimony. Narrow-gap layered semiconductor. High electrical conductivity, low thermal conductivity. Topological insulator.
II-V 2 Cadmium phosphide Cd3P2
II-V 2 Cadmium arsenide Cd3As2 0.14 N-type intrinsic semiconductor. Very high electron mobility. Used in infrared detectors, photodetectors, dynamic thin-film pressure sensors, and magnetoresistors.
II-V 2 Cadmium antimonide Cd3Sb2
II-V 2 Zinc phosphide Zn3P2
II-V 2 Zinc arsenide Zn3As2
II-V 2 Zinc antimonide Zn3Sb2 Used in infrared detectors and thermal imagers, transistors, and magnetoresistors.
Oxide 2 Titanium dioxide, anatase TiO2 3.2 indirect photocatalytic, n-type
Oxide 2 Titanium dioxide, rutile TiO2 3.02 direct photocatalytic, n-type
Oxide 2 Titanium dioxide, brookite TiO2 2.96 [12]
Oxide 2 Copper(I) oxide Cu2O 2.17 [13] One of the most studied semiconductors. Many applications and effects first demonstrated with it. Formerly used in rectifier diodes, before silicon.
Oxide 2 Copper(II) oxide CuO 1.2 P-type semiconductor.
Oxide 2 Uranium dioxide UO2 1.3 High Seebeck coefficient, resistant to high temperatures, promising thermoelectric and thermophotovoltaic applications. Formerly used in URDOX resistors, conducting at high temperature. Resistant to radiation damage.
Oxide 2 Uranium trioxide UO3
Oxide 2 Bismuth trioxide Bi2O3 Ionic conductor, applications in fuel cells.
Oxide 2 Tin dioxide SnO2 3.7 Oxygen-deficient n-type semiconductor. Used in gas sensors.
Oxide 3 Barium titanate BaTiO3 3 Ferroelectric, piezoelectric. Used in some uncooled thermal imagers. Used in nonlinear optics.
Oxide 3 Strontium titanate SrTiO3 3.3 Ferroelectric, piezoelectric. Used in varistors. Conductive when niobium-doped.
Oxide 3 Lithium niobate LiNbO3 4 Ferroelectric, piezoelectric, shows Pockels effect. Wide uses in electrooptics and photonics.
Oxide 3 Lanthanum copper oxide La2CuO4 2 superconductive when doped with barium or strontium
Layered 2 Lead(II) iodide PbI2
Layered 2 Molybdenum disulfide MoS2
Layered 2 Gallium selenide GaSe 2.1 indirect Photoconductor. Uses in nonlinear optics.
Layered 2 Tin sulfide SnS
Layered 2 Bismuth sulfide Bi2S3
Magnetic, diluted (DMS)[14] 3 Gallium manganese arsenide GaMnAs
Magnetic, diluted (DMS) 3 Indium manganese arsenide InMnAs
Magnetic, diluted (DMS) 3 Cadmium manganese telluride CdMnTe
Magnetic, diluted (DMS) 3 Lead manganese telluride PbMnTe
Magnetic 4 Lanthanum calcium manganate La0.7Ca0.3MnO3 colossal magnetoresistance
Magnetic 2 Iron(II) oxide FeO antiferromagnetic
Magnetic 2 Nickel(II) oxide NiO 3.6 – 4.0 eV direct[15][16] antiferromagnetic
Magnetic 2 Europium(II) oxide EuO ferromagnetic
Magnetic 2 Europium(II) sulfide EuS ferromagnetic
Magnetic 2 Chromium(III) bromide CrBr3
other 3 Copper indium selenide, CIS CuInSe2 1 direct
other 3 Silver gallium sulfide AgGaS2 nonlinear optical properties
other 3 Zinc silicon phosphide ZnSiP2
other 2 Arsenic sulfide As2S3 semiconductive in both crystalline and glassy state
other 2 Platinum silicide PtSi Used in infrared detectors for 1–5 µm. Used in infrared astronomy. High stability, low drift, used for measurements. Low quantum efficiency.
other 2 Bismuth(III) iodide BiI3
other 2 Mercury(II) iodide HgI2 Used in some gamma-ray and x-ray detectors and imaging systems operating at room temperature.
other 2 Thallium(I) bromide TlBr Used in some gamma-ray and x-ray detectors and imaging systems operating at room temperature. Used as a real-time x-ray image sensor.
other 2 Silver sulfide Ag2S 0.9 [17]
other 2 Iron disulfide FeS2 0.95 Mineral pyrite. Used in later cat's whisker detectors, investigated for solar cells.
other 4 Copper zinc tin sulfide, CZTS Cu2ZnSnS4 1.49 direct Cu2ZnSnS4 is derived from CIGS, replacing the Indium/Gallium with earth abundant Zinc/Tin.
other 4 Copper zinc antimony sulfide, CZAS Cu1.18Zn0.40Sb1.90S7.2 2.2[18] direct Copper zinc antimony sulfide is derived from copper antimony sulfide (CAS), a famatinite class of compound.

Table of semiconductor alloy systems[edit]

The following semiconducting systems can be tuned to some extent, and represent not a single material but a class of materials.

Group Elem. Material class Formula Band gap (eV) lower upper Gap type Description
IV 2 Silicon-germanium Si1-xGex 0.67 1.11[3] indirect adjustable band gap, allows construction of heterojunction structures. Certain thicknesses of superlattices have direct band gap.[19]
IV 2 Silicon-tin Si1-xSnx 1.0 1.11 indirect Adjustable band gap.[20]
III-V 3 Aluminium gallium arsenide AlxGa1-xAs 1.42 2.16[3] direct/indirect direct band gap for x<0.4 (corresponding to 1.42–1.95 eV); can be lattice-matched to GaAs substrate over entire composition range; tends to oxidize; n-doping with Si, Se, Te; p-doping with Zn, C, Be, Mg.[2] Can be used for infrared laser diodes. Used as a barrier layer in GaAs devices to confine electrons to GaAs (see e.g. QWIP). AlGaAs with composition close to AlAs is almost transparent to sunlight. Used in GaAs/AlGaAs solar cells.
III-V 3 Indium gallium arsenide InxGa1-xAs 0.36 1.43 direct Well-developed material. Can be lattice matched to InP substrates. Use in infrared technology and thermophotovoltaics. Indium content determines charge carrier density. For x=0.015, InGaAs perfectly lattice-matches germanium; can be used in multijunction photovoltaic cells. Used in infrared sensors, avalanche photodiodes, laser diodes, optical fiber communication detectors, and short-wavelength infrared cameras.
III-V 3 Indium gallium phosphide InxGa1-xP 1.35 2.26 direct/indirect used for HEMT and HBT structures and high-efficiency multijunction solar cells for e.g. satellites. Ga0.5In0.5P is almost lattice-matched to GaAs, with AlGaIn used for quantum wells for red lasers.
III-V 3 Aluminium indium arsenide AlxIn1-xAs 0.36 2.16 direct/indirect Buffer layer in metamorphic HEMT transistors, adjusting lattice constant between GaAs substrate and GaInAs channel. Can form layered heterostructures acting as quantum wells, in e.g. quantum cascade lasers.
III-V 3 Aluminium indium antimonide AlxIn1-xSb
III-V 3 Gallium arsenide nitride GaAsN
III-V 3 Gallium arsenide phosphide GaAsP 1.43 2.26 direct/indirect Used in red, orange and yellow LEDs. Often grown on GaP. Can be doped with nitrogen.
III-V 3 Gallium arsenide antimonide GaAsSb 0.7 1.42[3] direct
III-V 3 Aluminium gallium nitride AlGaN 3.44 6.28 direct Used in blue laser diodes, ultraviolet LEDs (down to 250 nm), and AlGaN/GaN HEMTs. Can be grown on sapphire. Used in heterojunctions with AlN and GaN.
III-V 3 Aluminium gallium phosphide AlGaP 2.26 2.45 indirect Used in some green LEDs.
III-V 3 Indium gallium nitride InGaN 2 3.4 direct InxGa1–xN, x usually between 0.02–0.3 (0.02 for near-UV, 0.1 for 390 nm, 0.2 for 420 nm, 0.3 for 440 nm). Can be grown epitaxially on sapphire, SiC wafers or silicon. Used in modern blue and green LEDs, InGaN quantum wells are effective emitters from green to ultraviolet. Insensitive to radiation damage, possible use in satellite solar cells. Insensitive to defects, tolerant to lattice mismatch damage. High heat capacity.
III-V 3 Indium arsenide antimonide InAsSb
III-V 3 Indium gallium antimonide InGaSb
III-V 4 Aluminium gallium indium phosphide AlGaInP direct/indirect also InAlGaP, InGaAlP, AlInGaP; for lattice matching to GaAs substrates the In mole fraction is fixed at about 0.48, the Al/Ga ratio is adjusted to achieve band gaps between about 1.9 and 2.35 eV; direct or indirect band gaps depending on the Al/Ga/In ratios; used for waveengths between 560–650 nm; tends to form ordered phases during deposition, which has to be prevented[2]
III-V 4 Aluminium gallium arsenide phosphide AlGaAsP
III-V 4 Indium gallium arsenide phosphide InGaAsP
III-V 4 Indium gallium arsenide antimonide InGaAsSb Use in thermophotovoltaics.
III-V 4 Indium arsenide antimonide phosphide InAsSbP Use in thermophotovoltaics.
III-V 4 Aluminium indium arsenide phosphide AlInAsP
III-V 4 Aluminium gallium arsenide nitride AlGaAsN
III-V 4 Indium gallium arsenide nitride InGaAsN
III-V 4 Indium aluminium arsenide nitride InAlAsN
III-V 4 Gallium arsenide antimonide nitride GaAsSbN
III-V 5 Gallium indium nitride arsenide antimonide GaInNAsSb
III-V 5 Gallium indium arsenide antimonide phosphide GaInAsSbP Can be grown on InAs, GaSb, and other substrates. Can be lattice matched by varying composition. Possibly usable for mid-infrared LEDs.
II-VI 3 Cadmium zinc telluride, CZT CdZnTe 1.4 2.2 direct Efficient solid-state x-ray and gamma-ray detector, can operate at room temperature. High electro-optic coefficient. Used in solar cells. Can be used to generate and detect terahertz radiation. Can be used as a substrate for epitaxial growth of HgCdTe.
II-VI 3 Mercury cadmium telluride HgCdTe 0 1.5 Known as "MerCad". Extensive use in sensitive cooled infrared imaging sensors, infrared astronomy, and infrared detectors. Alloy of mercury telluride (a semimetal, zero band gap) and CdTe. High electron mobility. The only common material capable of operating in both 3–5 µm and 12–15 µm atmospheric windows. Can be grown on CdZnTe.
II-VI 3 Mercury zinc telluride HgZnTe 0 2.25 Used in infrared detectors, infrared imaging sensors, and infrared astronomy. Better mechanical and thermal properties than HgCdTe but more difficult to control the composition. More difficult to form complex heterostructures.
II-VI 3 Mercury zinc selenide HgZnSe
other 4 Copper indium gallium selenide, CIGS Cu(In,Ga)Se2 1 1.7 direct CuInxGa1–xSe2. Polycrystalline. Used in thin film solar cells.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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