Difference Between Conductor and Semiconductor (With Table)

Conductors and Semiconductors can be distinguished from each other depending on the ground of conductivity and other properties. Conductors like metals, e.g. copper and aluminium, show conductivity at normal room temperature. But if the temperature increases, they tend to lose their conduction capabilities. However, Semiconductors tend to act as insulators in low temperatures, whereas they act as conductors when the temperature is high.

Conductor vs Semiconductor

The difference between conductor and semiconductor is that there are different levels of conductivity capacity. Both conductor and semiconductor have a wide range of versatile uses, which man utilizes in their day-to-day lives. Even though there are few similarities among them, but they are very different from each other.

Conductors allow energy to flow easily through them. Be it in the form of heat or electricity or even sound. In physics, conductors are an object or a type of materials which, allows the flow of in one or more particular direction. Mostly, metals are very good conductors, except exceptional like gold, mercury, etc.

A material that is a semiconductor has the level of conducting electricity, whose value falls in between that of conductors like aluminium and copper and insulators like rubber and glass. In the case of semiconductors, the more the temperature, the lesser the resistivity, which is the opposite of conductors. Few examples of semiconductors are silicon, gallium arsenide, and germanium.

Comparison Table Between Conductor and Semiconductor

Parameters of ComparisonConductorSemiconductor
ConductivityVery High or HighModerate
ResistivityLowModerate
ConductionUses many electrons for conduction.Uses fewer electrons for conduction
Flow of current It is caused by the flow of free electrons.It is caused because of the presence of free electrons and holes.
ExamplesGold, silver, aluminum, copper, etc.Silicon, gallium arsenide, and germanium.

What is Conductor?

Conductors are the materials that have the potentialities to transmit energy in the form of heat, electricity, or sound. The process happens as a result of conductors change the electrons to ensue one atom to others by associate degree application of voltage. 

In conductors, the level of conductivity is high, and resistivity is low. Materials that are made up of metals are the best conductor. But there are non-metals like conductive polymer and graphite, which also serve as a conductor. The conductors have a huge number of electrons for transmission, and it also doesn’t have a forbidden gap. 

The power value of the conductor is very high, 10-7mho/m. A conductor behaves like a superconductor when it is having a 0-kelvin behaviour.

Most of the conductors are solid. But there are liquid metals as well, which serve as excellent conductors like metals. Gases, though, are poor conductors, but when they are ionized, they become good conductors. Examples of natural conductors are Earth, animals, the human body, and metals. 

There are various useful applications of conductors, which we use daily. For example, Iron is used for the manufacture and production of vehicles’ engines to conduct heat. Aluminium, on the other, is used mostly in utensils as it absorbs and stores the heat, and it is also used to wrap the food. Mercury is used to measuring body temperature and is used in thermometers.

What is Semiconductor?

Semiconductors are materials whose conduction capacity lies in between that of conductors and insulators. They have a moderate level of conduction capacity which can change based on the temperature. If the temperature is high, the level of conductivity also increases, and when the temperature decreases, the same materials can be treated like an insulator. However, they are very poor conductors in their natural state.

A semiconductor’s properties can be altered by introducing impurities in the conductors. The power value of the semiconductors can be between 10-13mho/m to 10-7mho/m.

Semiconductors have a wide range of useful characteristics. The 0-kelvin behaviour of the semiconductors will convert them into insulators.

For instance, passing current in a single direction, showing changeable resistance, and also be light or heat sensitivity. Semiconductors use a lesser number of electrons for conduction as compared to conductors. The single direction flow of current happens because of the presence of the free electrons and holes.

Semiconductors are used in the manufacture and production of several electronic devices like transistors, integrated circuits, and diodes. They are used in power devices, optical sensors, light emitters, and also for the production of solar cells with the help of p-type and n-type semiconductors. They have great voltage and electric current handling capabilities.

These devices are cost-effective and pocket-friendly, reliable, easy to use, and also is power efficient. Few Examples of Semiconductor materials are Silicon, Tin, Tellurium, Germanium, and other metal oxides.

Main Differences Between Conductor and Semiconductor

  1. The level of conductivity in conductors is high, whereas, in the case of semiconductors, it is moderate, i.e. it is neither too high neither too low.
  2. The level of resistivity in conductors is very low, but semiconductors have a moderate level of resistivity.
  3. The flow of current in conductors happens because of the free flow of electrons, whereas in semiconductors, the latter happens because of the presence of free electrons and holes.
  4. The conductors are formed by metallic bonding, whereas semiconductors are formed by covalent bonding.
  5. In the outermost shell, the valence electron for conductors is just one, whereas, for semiconductors, it is four.
  6. Examples of conductors are Gold, Silver, Aluminium, Copper, whereas examples of semiconductors are silicon, gallium arsenide, and germanium.

Conclusion

We, humans, use both conductors as well as semiconductors in our daily lives.

Conductors which can be found in daily situations are like a thermometer that uses mercury to measure the temperature of the body. Then a cooking pan that is made of Iron uses its conductivity characteristics to transfer the heat from the flame to the food.

Semiconductors, however, are used in a less obvious manner as compared to conductors. They are used as Transistors from Very Large Scale Integration(VLSI) technology to the tiny ones used in almost all the wireless gadgets we use. Semiconductors are also used to manufacture solar cells made up of p-type and n-type semiconductors.

References

  1. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.4895102
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Ty5Ymlg_Mh0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=conductor+and+semiconductor+materials&ots=K7X8yGMhXm&sig=lti9TC1YePeXg-Vwetak-z7KAE4

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