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[sem-ee-kuh n-duhk-ter, sem-ahy-] /ˌsɛm i kənˈdʌk tər, ˌsɛm aɪ-/
a substance, as silicon or germanium, with electrical conductivity intermediate between that of an insulator and a conductor: a basic component of various kinds of electronic circuit element (semiconductor device) used in communications, control, and detection technology and in computers.
a semiconductor device.
Origin of semiconductor
1875-80; semi- + conductor Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for semiconductor
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Historical Examples
  • It may not be the only impurity causing the peculiar behavior of this semiconductor, but it does seem a likely candidate.

    The Atomic Fingerprint Bernard Keisch
British Dictionary definitions for semiconductor


a substance, such as germanium or silicon, that has an electrical conductivity that increases with temperature and is intermediate between that of a metal and an insulator The behaviour may be exhibited by the pure substance (intrinsic semiconductor) or as a result of impurities (extrinsic semiconductor)
  1. a device, such as a transistor or integrated circuit, that depends on the properties of such a substance
  2. (as modifier): a semiconductor diode
Derived Forms
semiconduction, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for semiconductor

1838, "material whose electrical conductivity is between that of a conductor and that of an insulator," from semi- + conductor. Modern very specific sense is recorded from 1931.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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semiconductor in Science
Any of various solid substances, such as silicon or germanium, that conduct electricity more easily than insulators but less easily than conductors. In semiconductors, thermal energy is enough to cause a small number of electrons to escape from the valence bonds between the atoms (the valence band); they orbit instead in the higher-energy conduction band, in which they are relatively free. The resulting gaps in the valence band are called holes. Semiconductors are vital to the design of electronic components and circuitry, including transistors, laser diodes, and memory and computer processing circuits.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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semiconductor in Culture

semiconductor definition

A material that conducts (see conduction) electricity, but very poorly. Silicon is the most common and familiar semiconductor. Devices made from semiconductors, such as the transistor, are the basis of the modern microelectric industry.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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semiconductor in Technology

A material, typically crystaline, which allows current to flow under certain circumstances. Common semiconductors are silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide. Semiconductors are used to make diodes, transistors and other basic "solid state" electronic components.
As crystals of these materials are grown, they are "doped" with traces of other elements called donors or acceptors to make regions which are n- or p-type respectively for the electron model or p- or n-type under the hole model. Where n and p type regions adjoin, a junction is formed which will pass current in one direction (from p to n) but not the other, giving a diode.
One model of semiconductor behaviour describes the doping elements as having either free electrons or holes dangling at the points in the crystal lattice where the doping elements replace one of the atoms of the foundation material. When external electrons are applied to n-type material (which already has free electrons present) the repulsive force of like charges causes the free electrons to migrate toward the junction, where they are attracted to the holes in the p-type material. Thus the junction conducts current.
In contrast, when external electrons are applied to p-type material, the attraction of unlike charges causes the holes to migrate away from the junction and toward the source of external electrons. The junction thus becomes "depleted" of its charge carriers and is non-conducting.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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