Hole states in solids

Hole states in solids

Vacant electron energy states near the top of an energy band in a solid are called holes. A full band cannot carry electric current; a band nearly full with only a few unoccupied states near its maximum energy can carry current, but the current behaves as though the charge carriers are positively charged. See Band theory of solids

The process of conduction in such a system may be visualized in the following way. An electron moves against an applied electric field by jumping into a vacant state. This transfers the position of the vacant state, or propagates the hole, in the direction of the field.

Hole conduction is important in many semiconductors, notably germanium and silicon. The occurrence of hole conduction in semiconductors can be favored by alloying with a material of lower valence than the “host.” Semiconductors in which the conduction is primarily due to holes are called p type. See Semiconductor