• Junhao Chu
  • Arden Sher
Part of the Microdevices book series (MDPF)


At room temperature, semiconductors can be in a stable equilibrium, but most doped semiconductors or alloys are in metastable states with compositions that are frozen at a temperature where diffusion stops. Under these conditions, the carrier densities of semiconductors are in quasi-equilibrium and remain constant. However, external effects can destroy the balance between thermal excitation and recombination to excite extra carriers. Often the extra carriers that play an important roll in devices are the minority carriers, holes in n-type and electrons in p-type material. If the source of the external effects disappears, the nonequilibrium carrier population will also decrease because the probability of carrier recombination is larger than that of carrier generation. Normally, we call the time duration of the return to equilibrium, the minority carrier life time. As is well known, the carrier life time is very different for different semiconductor materials. For example, it can exceed \(1{0}^{-2}\mbox{ \textendash }1{0}^{-3}\,\mu \mathrm{s}\) for single crystal Ge, and the values can be in the range of 10 μs for high-purity Si. However, the carrier life time is quite long, about \(1{0}^{-2}\mbox{ \textendash }1{0}^{-3}\,\mu \mathrm{s}\) or longer for GaAs semiconductor materials. The value is about 1 μs for HgCdTe materials. Note that the life time can change over a wide range for different alloy concentrations of the same semiconductor material.


Radiative Recombination Minority Carrier Carrier Lifetime Recombination Center Auger Recombination 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics, CASShanghaiChina
  2. 2.East China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.SRI InternationalMenlo ParkUSA

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