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semiconductor device[¦sem·i·kən¦dək·tər di‚vīs]
an electron device whose operating principle is based on the electronic processes that occur in semiconductors. In electronics, such devices are used for the conversion of various signals; in power engineering, they are used for the direct conversion of one kind of energy into another.
Semiconductor devices can be classified in many ways—for example, according to their purpose and operating principle; according to the type of material, design, and fabrication techniques; or according to their application. The principal classes of semiconductors, however, are considered to be the following: (1) electric-conversion devices, which convert one electrical quantity into another electrical quantity—semiconductor diodes, transistors, and thyristors; (2) optical electronic devices, which convert light signals into electric signals or vice versa— optrons, photoresistors, photodiodes, phototransistors, light-activated thyristors, semiconductor lasers, light-emitting diodes, and solid-state image converters, which are analogues of, for example, the vidicon; (3) thermoelectric devices which convert heat energy into electric energy or vice versa—for example, thermocouples, thermoelectric generators, solar batteries, and thermistors; (4) magnetoelectric devices such as sensing elements that make use of the Hall effect; and (5) piezoelectric and strain-gauge devices, which respond to pressure or mechanical displacement. Integrated circuits should be regarded as a separate class of semiconductor devices. Such circuits can be, for example, of the electric conversion type or the optical electronic type, or they can be of a mixed type and combine effects of quite different kinds in one device.
Electric-conversion semiconductor devices are the broadest class of devices designed to convert (with respect, for example, to type of current or to frequency), amplify and generate electrical oscillations in the frequency range from fractions of a hertz to 100 gigahertz or more. Their operating powers range from less than 10-12 watt to several hundred watts, their voltages from fractions of a vok to several thousand volts, and their currents from several nanoamperes to several thousand amperes.
Depending on the semiconductor material used, such types as germanium and silicon semiconductor devices are distinguished. When classified by their design and fabrication characteristics, semiconductor devices are categorized as point-contact devices or as junction devices. The latter category is in turn subdivided into, for example, alloy-type, diffusion-type, mesa-planar, planar, and epitaxial-planar devices. Planar devices are the most widespread type. With respect to their application, such types as high-frequency, high-voltage, and pulsed semiconductor devices are distinguished.
Semiconductor devices are enclosed in metal-glass, cermet ceramic or plastic casings, which protect the devices from external influences. Casingless semiconductor devices are manufactured for use in hybrid integrated circuits. Approximately 100,000 types of semiconductor devices for various purposes are manufactured throughout the world.
IA. A. PEDOTOV