Sei sulla pagina 1di 3

Why Si better over Ge Semiconductor

In 1878 Edwin Herbert Hall discovered that charge carriers in solids are deflected in magnetic
field (Hall effect). This phenomenon was later used to study the properties of semiconductors [10]..Ref2
The most important aspect of semiconductor1 is at absolute zero the highest completely filled band (the
valence band) is separated from the lowest empty band (the conduction band) by an energy gap or band gap
Eg of forbidden states. Therefore the material does not conduct electricity at T = 0. At finite temperatures a
variety of processes enable electrons to be excited into the conduction band and empty states to occur in the
valence band, thus allowing electrical conduction. However, we shall see that the presence of the energy
gap still dominates the properties of the semiconductor.Ref-1
What is Silicon?
Silicon is a semiconductor material with an atomic number of 14, located in the group 4 of the periodic table. Pure
Amorphous silicon was first prepared by Jones Jacob Berzelius in 1824, whereas crystalline silicon was first
prepared by Henry Etienne in 1854

Why is Si used in chips for computers?

Silicon is actually not the most optimal electronic material, but it is used instead of other materials with better
electronic properties because it is cheap and extremely abundant. In fact, Si is the eighth most abundant element on
earth (albeit, you need to do processing beforehand). It's part of what makes all of your electronics affordable, and is
oft terials that are comparable or better to silicon. It's an exciting time in electronic materials research.ref3

The only material that can be made purer than silicon is germanium. There was a time when it was unclear
if Si or Ge would become the platform for computer chips, but Si won out for a couple more scientific and
technological reasons: Si is able to grow a stable, insulating oxide (SiO 2) when heated very hot in a furnace. This is
very useful for making devices like transistors, which require insulating regions. Secondly, Si is dead cheap! It's the
most common element in the Earth's crust and is basically isolated from sandref3

1. Abundance of Silicon
The foremost and most prominent reason for silicon’s popularity as a material of choice is its abundance. Next in
line with oxygen which is about 46% in the earth’s crust, Silicon forms about 28% of the earth’s crust. It is widely
available in the form of sand (silica), and quartz.


One reason for why silicon was chosen over germanium is that silicon operates better at high temperatures because
the bonds with the electrons are stronger in silicon than in germanium. Germanium has weaker bonds to its electrons
and at high temperatures these bonds may be broken and lead to worse performance. ref3

Easy to create—
Another reason why silicon became dominant is that it is very easy to create a high quality thin insulator on the
surface of a silicon chip, because you can just put silicon in a hot furnace with oxygen and it will form a thin film of
silicon dioxide which performs as an excellent insulator which gave it a huge advantage when MOSFETs were first
created. Modern computer chips are formed entirely with insulated gate MOSFET devices, this insulator is used to
reduce power consumption and increase performance.

Silicon’s strengths

Silicon has several qualities that have led it to become the bedrock of electronics, Pop explained. One is that it is
blessed with a very good “native” insulator, silicon dioxide or, in plain English, silicon rust. Exposing silicon to
oxygen during manufacturing gives chip-makers an easy way to isolate their circuitry. Other semiconductors do not
“rust” into good insulators when exposed to oxygen, so they must be layered with additional insulators, a step that
introduces engineering challenges. Both of the diselenides the Stanford group tested formed this elusive, yet high-
quality insulating rust layer when exposed to oxygen. Not only do both ultrathin semiconductors rust, they do so in a
way that is even more desirable than silicon. They form what are called “high-K” insulators, which enable lower
power operation than is possible with silicon and its silicon oxide insulator. As the Stanford researchers started
shrinking the diselenides to atomic thinness, they realized that these ultrathin semiconductors share another of
silicon’s secret advantages: the energy needed to switch transistors on – a critical step in computing, called the band
gap – is in a just-right range. Too low and the circuits leak and become unreliable. Too high and the chip takes too
much energy to operate and becomes inefficient. Both materials were in the same optimal range as silicon. All this
and the diselenides can also be fashioned into circuits just three atoms thick, or about two-thirds of a nanometer,
something silicon cannot do. “Engineers have been unable to make silicon transistors thinner than about five
nanometers, before the material properties begin to change in undesirable ways,” Pop said. The combination of
thinner circuits and desirable high-K insulation means that these ultrathin semiconductors could be made into
transistors 10 times smaller than anything possible with silicon today. “Silicon won’t go away. But for consumers
this could mean much longer battery life and much more complex functionality if these semiconductors can be
integrated with silicon,” Pop saidref4

– Abundant: easy to obtain, low cost.
– Single crystal: with ever larger rod diameters (30 cm). Defects can be
eliminated or selectively utilized for advantage.
– Not brittle: can easily be handled and is an excellent mechanical substrate
for individual devices and integrated circuit chips.
– Adequate thermal conductivity to take away the electrically generated
heat in chips.
-Silicon crystallizes in a diamond form with relatively strong bond gaining the crystals relatively strong mechanical
properties which is advantageous for mechanical handling and processingref6
– Can be microstructured by a combination of suitable optical and chemical
methods (lithography), even breaking through the 0.1 micron barrier.
– Thin crystalline silicon films with different electrical properties can be
grown onto silicon substrates via epitaxy.
– Thin crystalline silicon films with various electrical properties can be
grown onto insulators (sapphire, etc.) to provide improved isolation and
speed, and lower capacitance.
– Thin crystalline germanium films and, probably, novel films of III–V compounds
containing quantum dots, offering different electrical and optical
properties, can be grown onto silicon substrates via chemical vapor deposition
or molecular-beam epitaxy.
– Buried thin films of SiO2 can be created under the silicon surface by
oxygen ion implantation and subsequent annealing (SIMOX structures).
– Has a very useful energy gap (1.12 eV).
– Conductivity can be tailored (n-type, p-type, value) by doping using diffusion
and/or ion implantation.
– As an elemental semiconductor, it does not have the multitude of materials
problems and chemical behavior that compound semiconductors
– Annealing works very well.
– Carrier mobility is good for both electrons and holes (important in CMOS
– Carrier lifetime for both electrons and holes is good because of special
band structure properties and low density of traps (important for bi-polar
– Not light-sensitive (stable operation of devices under various light conditions).
2.6.2 Silicon Dioxide [20]
– Can be thermally grown as a native oxide by a simple, inexpensive and
reliable (oxidation) process.
– Can be deposited via chemical vapor deposition and other methods.
– Is stable up to very high temperatures (important for annealing).
– Films can be very thin (100˚A) (necessary for ultrasmall MOS devices).
– Acts as a chemical barrier during etching of selected silicon areas,
– Can act as a diffusion barrier for certain materials, especially most of the
common dopants.
– Acts as a barrier during ion implantation.
– Is chemically stable but can be microstructured by a combination of suitable
optical and chemical methods (lithography), even breaking through
the 0.1 micron barrier.
– Metal patterns, deposited on it by various methods, adhere very well.
– Is mechanically strong and can act as a protective layer (physical and
ionic protection).
– Can be polished to planarize the surface.
– Is transparent.
– High electrical breakdown strength.
– Useful dielectric constant (but here there is a need for new insulating
materials to replace SiO2 in certain areas: high-k materials for the gate
and low-k materials for insulating the wiring).
2.6.3 Si–SiO2 Interface [21]
– Has an extremely low density of interface states when properly prepared.
– Very stable.ref5