What Are Semiconductors Used for?
Semiconductors are the basic component of most consumer electronics. They have diverse applications based on their conduction properties. The electronics industry has seen a new shift due to modern developments and shaped semiconductors into different forms. From LGA to BGA substrates, you can find variations to suit your electronic circuits. If you wonder what the common applications of semiconductors are, we have covered all the details below.
Semiconductors - An Overview
Semiconductors are components comprised of silicon. These electronic materials conduct more electricity than insulators and less than pure conductors. In circuit assembly and product manufacture, semiconductor properties can be altered (doping) by adding impurities to achieve a desired conduction component.
Typically small, semiconductors are found in almost every electronic including computers, mobile phones, home appliances, medical devices, and more.
Types of Semiconductors
Semiconductors have two main types based on the type and amount of impurities introduced alongside silicon by doping. The presence of impurities alters the conduction properties of semiconductors, dividing them into two categories.
An n-type semiconductor comprises one or more impurities depending on the choice of atoms like phosphorus, antimony, arsenic, and bismuth.
A p-type semiconductor has atoms with five electrons in the valence shell. More often, engineers use phosphorus, arsenic, or antimony as dopants to create a p-type semiconductor.
Understanding the Uses of Semiconductors
Semiconductors are everywhere in this era of technology and digitalization. Smartphones, tech devices, modern computers, and appliances have semiconductor chips to ensure proper functioning. To understand the common applications of semiconductors, we have covered the details below.
Semiconductors are used in memory chips to store data and pass information to the computer. Memory chips have covered a long journey from decades back when we had a few MBs of storage on computers with limited use. Modern-day computers have micro memory chips with large storage spaces. These chips are a form of semiconductors.
Memory chips are used in computers, gaming consoles, POS devices, and other tech devices with a data storage feature. The efficiency of memory chips depends on various factors, including the type of integrated circuits on a device. Multiple integrations are available in the market based on a device’s requirements (you can also find package substrates for integration).
Computing processors used to have bigger sizes and efficiency problems. If the processing chip got heated, it would slow down the tasks on a computer and affect the quality of work. Modern-day processors are microchips with variations in how they are integrated into a main board. They may be BGA substrates (Ball Grid Array) or other package substrates.
BGA substrates are organic substrates typically made from bismaleimide triazine or polyimide to ensure desirable conduction properties. Microprocessors mount to the top of the package substrate, while the base uses solder balls for circuit integration. Semiconductor properties may vary for each device.
Microprocessors may also use LGA substrates. These substrates contain small pins on the base to connect to the main board. The pins allow the smooth flow of electricity from the board to the processing chip. Advanced research in semiconductors has enabled engineers to divide large circuits into smaller fragments of microchips.
Modern-day electronic systems rely on multiple systems within larger machines. Each embedded system has its own components to ensure the smooth working of the internal circuits. These embedded systems are designed according to the integration requirements of the larger machine.
Each embedded body has semiconductor chips to regulate the flow of charge across the main board. Semiconductor chips may vary for embedded systems based on the nature of the machine. They can be soldered using balls (BGA substrate chips) or with pins (LGA package substrate).
Common examples of embedded systems include central heating systems, GPS systems, televisions, engine performance management systems (in vehicles), automation units, fitness trackers, and more.
LED displays are widely used in households, offices, and retail markets. They replaced the former technologies used in televisions to generate a picture with audio. While many are unfamiliar with it, LED displays rely on semiconductors for lighting. Manufacturers use different semiconductor technologies to achieve variations of LED displays.
If you explore the market, you may find OLEDs, QLEDs, and simple LEDs to choose from. These display units generally opt for amorphous or liquid semiconductors. They are thin-coated films capable of producing light. Moreover, the use of amorphous semiconductors is one of the major reasons for making LED displays sleeker.
Solar panels have taken over the globe as an efficient alternative to traditional power generation. They generate power using solar energy. If you wonder how solar panels generate and regulate the appropriate flow of electricity through a household, the answer is semiconductors. Solar panels majorly rely on silicon-based semiconductors.
Although solar panels first came out as large flat panels, recent developments have produced new forms, including window panels, car panels, and more.
The Role of the Semiconductor Industry
The use of semiconductors in electronics makes them undeniably important. Thanks to the semiconductor industry, we can build and operate thousands of electronic devices in homes, offices, schools, colleges, and commercial sectors. The primary objective of the industry is to create cheaper semiconductors in smaller sizes and faster speeds.
The need for smaller chips is due to the demand for higher efficiency. Placing a smaller chip on a circuit means placing more power on a single chip. Smaller chips have more transistors, allowing better performance. For instance, BGA substrates are microchips with 0.5 mm-1.0 mm sizes. They are super-efficient and preferred by many engineers for designing modern electronics.
Other package substrates like LGA are also effective due to their smaller sizes and power. It is safe to assume that the future will be filled with even cheaper and smaller semiconductors to cope with the needs of technological advancements.
The above details highlight the common applications of semiconductors. The depth of the information also indicates the never-ending need for cheaper, smaller, and faster semiconductor chips. The global shortage of semiconductor chips in the recent past was sufficient to speak about the impact the world might face if there were no semiconductor chips.