Recent Advances in Science: Physics and Applied Mathematics

By Morris H. Shamos; George M. Murphy | Go to book overview

Transistor Physics*

W. SHOCKLEY


Introduction

The development of the transistor has made potentially possible many new advances in technology. This discussion, however, is concerned with the science of semiconductors, upon which transistor electronics is based. The semiconductors of chief interest, germanium and silicon, can best be understood in terms of insulators. A potentially insulating crystal becomes a semiconductor when it contains either of two electronic imperfections: excess electrons over and above those necessary to complete the valence bonds, and holes, or electron shortages, in the valence bonds. Both the excess electron and the hole are mobile and can carry electric current. In addition to these two electronic imperfections, three other classes of imperfections, atomic in nature, must be considered. These are donors, acceptors, and deathnium. Donors are chemical impurities that induce excess electrons, whereas acceptors induce holes. An excess electron can combine with a hole, the result being a normal valence bond and thus annihilation of both imperfections; deathnium is a chemical imperfection that catalyzes the recombination. The ways in which the five imperfections interact and lead to useful processes are described. New experiments based on transistor techniques have demonstrated the properties of excess electrons and holes.

The transistor made its first appearance on the public scene in June of 1948 and is now approximately eight years old. During these years the transistor has developed from a state of feasibility in the laboratory to a useful article of commerce. In the fall of 1952, no commercial application of the transistor was available for use by the general public, but by the spring of 1953 several competing companies were offering hearing aids incorporating transistors.

We are not concerned primarily with the applications of the transistor, however, but with the relationship of the transistor to the

____________________
*
Reprinted from the American Scientist, 42 ( 1954), 41-72.

-213-

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Recent Advances in Science: Physics and Applied Mathematics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Authors ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Methods of Applied Mathematics 1
  • The Future of Operations Research 15
  • Atomic Structure 27
  • Microwave Spectroscopy 47
  • Nuclear Structure and Transmutations 67
  • Elementary Particles 115
  • Electronuclear Machines 137
  • Neutron Physics 197
  • Transistor Physics 213
  • Ferromagnetism 253
  • Cryogenics: Very-Low Temperature Physics And Engineering 293
  • Physics and the Engineer 349
  • Index 361
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