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Band gap

The band gap of GaAs is 1.42 eV; resulting in photon emission in the infra-red range. Alloying GaAs with Al to give Al x Ga 1-x As can extend the band gap into the visible red range. Unlike Si, the band gap of GaAs is direct, i.e., the transition between the valence band maximum and conduction band minimum involves no momentum change and hence does not require a collaborative particle interaction to occur. Photon generation by inter-band radiative recombination is therefore possible in GaAs. Whereas in Si, with an indirect band-gap, this process is too inefficient to be of use. The ability to convert electrical energy into light forms the basis of the use of GaAs, and its alloys, in optoelectronics; for example in light emitting diodes (LEDs), solid state lasers (light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation).

A significant drawback of small band gap semiconductors, such as Si, is that electrons may be thermally promoted from the valence band to the conduction band. Thus, with increasing temperature the thermal generation of carriers eventually becomes dominant over the intentionally doped level of carriers. The wider band gap of GaAs gives it the ability to remain 'intentionally' semiconducting at higher temperatures; GaAs devices are generally more stable to high temperatures than a similar Si devices.

Carrier density

The low intrinsic carrier density of GaAs in a pure (undoped) form indicates that GaAs is intrinsically a very poor conductor and is commonly referred to as being semi-insulating. This property is usually altered by adding dopants of either the p- (positive) or n- (negative) type. This semi-insulating property allows many active devices to be grown on a single substrate, where the semi-insulating GaAs provides the electrical isolation of each device; an important feature in the miniaturization of electronic circuitry, i.e., VLSI (very-large-scale-integration) involving over 100,000 components per chip (one chip is typically between 1 and 10 mm square).

Electron mobility

The higher electron mobility in GaAs than in Si potentially means that in devices where electron transit time is the critical performance parameter, GaAs devices will operate with higher response times than equivalent Si devices. However, the fact that hole mobility is similar for both GaAs and Si means that devices relying on cooperative electron and hole movement, or hole movement alone, show no improvement in response time when GaAs based.

Crystal growth

The bulk crystal growth of GaAs presents a problem of stoichiometric control due the loss, by evaporation, of arsenic both in the melt and the growing crystal (> ca. 600 °C). Melt growth techniques are, therefore, designed to enable an overpressure of arsenic above the melt to be maintained, thus preventing evaporative losses. The loss of arsenic also negates diffusion techniques commonly used for wafer doping in Si technology; since the diffusion temperatures required exceed that of arsenic loss.

Crystal stress

The thermal gradient and, hence, stress generated in melt grown crystals have limited the maximum diameter of GaAs wafers (currently 6" diameter compared to over 12" for Si), because with increased wafer diameters the thermal stress generated dislocation (crystal imperfections) densities eventually becomes unacceptable for device applications.

Physical strength

Gallium arsenide single crystals are very brittle, requiring that considerably thicker substrates than those employed for Si devices.

Native oxide

Gallium arsenide's native oxide is found to be a mixture of non-stoichiometric gallium and arsenic oxides and elemental arsenic. Thus, the electronic band structure is found to be severely disrupted causing a breakdown in 'normal' semiconductor behavior on the GaAs surface. As a consequence, the GaAs MISFET (metal-insulator-semiconductor-field-effect-transistor) equivalent to the technologically important Si based MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor-field-effect-transistor) is, therefore, presently unavailable.

The passivation of the surface of GaAs is therefore a key issue when endeavoring to utilize the FET technology using GaAs. Passivation in this discussion means the reduction in mid-gap band states which destroy the semiconducting properties of the material. Additionally, this also means the production of a chemically inert coating which prevents the formation of additional reactive states, which can effect the properties of the device.


  • S. K. Ghandhi, VLSI Fabrication Principles: Silicon and Gallium Arsenide. Wiley-Interscience, New York, (1994).
  • Properties of Gallium Arsenide. Ed. M. R. Brozel and G. E. Stillman. 3rd Ed. Institution of Electrical Engineers, London (1996).

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry of electronic materials. OpenStax CNX. Aug 09, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10719/1.9
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