semiconductor

[sem-ee-kuhn-duhk-ter, sem-ahy-]
noun
1.
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.
2.
a semiconductor device.

Origin:
1875–80; semi- + conductor

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World English Dictionary
semiconductor (ˌsɛmɪkənˈdʌktə)
 
n
1.  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 insulatorThe behaviour may be exhibited by the pure substance (intrinsic semiconductor) or as a result of impurities (extrinsic semiconductor)
2.  a.  a device, such as a transistor or integrated circuit, that depends on the properties of such a substance
 b.  (as modifier): a semiconductor diode
 
semicon'duction
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

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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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
semiconductor   (sěm'ē-kən-dŭk'tər)  Pronunciation Key 
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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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

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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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

semiconductor definition

electronics
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.
(1995-10-04)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
The films contain gallium arsenide, a mixture of the elements gallium and
  arsenic that acts as a semiconductor in solar cells.
Most solar cells are made from silicon-the same semiconductor material that is
  at the heart of computers.
The color of the light is a direct result of the energy gap in the
  semiconductor of the diode.
Thin-film cells are overlaid with a layer of semiconductor material which is
  only a few microns thick.
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