What does Semiconductor mean?

The word “semiconductor” really means it is a “semi” conductor, sometimes conduct electrons flow and sometimes not.  A semiconductor is a physical substance that is designed to manage and control the flow of current in electronic devices and equipment.  The term semiconducting was used for the first time Alessandro Volta in 1782.  The first documented observation of a semiconductor effect is that of Michael Faraday in 1833.

A semiconductor is in between a conductor and insulator and commonly used in the development of electronic chips, computing components and devices. It is generally created using silicon which can easily be found in sand, germanium or other pure elements.


A semiconductor is created after doping or adding impurities to the element. The conductance or inductance of the element depends on the type and intensity of the added impurities.

There are two basic types of semiconductors, as follows:

  1. N-type semiconductor: Carries current mainly in the form of negatively-charged electrons, in a manner similar to the conduction of current in a wire.  Used when its conductance is higher or there is a large amount of free electrons.
  2. P-type semiconductor: Carries current predominantly as electron deficiencies called holes. A hole has a positive electric charge, equal and opposite to the charge on an electron. In a semiconductor material, the flow of holes occurs in a direction opposite to the flow of electrons.  Used when its inductance is higher and there are less free electrons.


Common devices and components built by using a semiconductor include computer memory, integrated circuits, diodes and transistors.  Such devices have found wide application because of their compactness, reliability, power efficiency, and low cost. As discrete components, they have found use in power devices, sensors, and light emitters. They have a wide range of current- and voltage-handling capabilities and, more important, lend themselves to integration into complex but readily manufacture microelectronic circuits. They are, and will be in the foreseeable future, the key elements for the majority of electronic systems, serving communications, signal processing, computing, and control applications in both the consumer and industrial markets.

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