Have you ever wondered what is actually inside your electronics? Despite most of us having a number of devices in our homes, few of us have any idea of what they’re made of.
Most electronic devices contain circuits comprising of different components, including resistors, diodes, capacitors and transistors which are linked together by metal connections.
The components each carefully control the flow of electrons through their structure. They are made of solid pieces of materials that partly conduct and partly insulate, also known as semiconductors. Let’s find out more about the role of semiconductors in our electronic devices.
Why Use Semiconductors in Electronics?
All of the components within our electronics are made using a range of semiconductors. The reason why semiconductors are used rather than conductors (such as metal, aluminium or copper) is that they will carry an electric current but, unlike conductors, can function at a very low voltage.
What’s more, their properties are perfect for our mass-produced electronic devices; they require less power than conductors and they’re incredibly compact so can fit easily into a mobile phone or a tablet. Perfect for the growing pressure on tech companies to make their devices smaller, lighter and more efficient for the user.
Also, there are incredibly sophisticated ways to manufacture semiconductors, such as silicon, and companies like RS Components have developed innovative solutions for use inside our electronic devices.
The Benefits of Using Silicon
Silicon is perhaps the most widely used material for use as semiconductors. Here are a few silicon facts – it was discovered in 1824 by Jacob Berzelius and it has an atomic number of 14. It needs to be in a solid-state device to use useful in electronics, which means hyperpure silicon is needed. It is then selectively doped with tiny amounts of boron, gallium, phosphorus or arsenic in order to control its electrical properties.
Here’s why silicon is the most popular semiconductor used in electronics:
- It is relatively easy to acquire. Silicon forms around 28% of the earth’s crust (just after oxygen, which is about 46%) and it’s widely available in the form of sand (silica) and quartz.
- The silicon wafers used for electrical components can be manufactured using effective techniques that are becoming more economical and environmentally-friendly.
- Thanks to the properties of silicon, it’s least affected by water, acid or steam.
- It has a stable chemical nature compared to germanium for example, which makes it a more reliable insulator in high temperatures.
The majority of the electronics around our home contain silicon as it is used internally as a semiconductor. It is a vital part of any electronic device as it functions at a low voltage and acts as both a conductor and insulator when needed. So, without silicon, we wouldn’t have the mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices that we all own and use!