Charge carrier

From Academic Kids

Charge carrier denotes in physics a free (mobile, unbound) particle carrying an electric charge. Examples are electrons and ions. In semiconductor physics, the travelling vacancies in the valance-band electron population (holes) are treated as charge carriers.

In ionic solutions, the charge carriers are the dissolved cations and anions. Similarly, cations and anions of the dissociated liquid serve as charge carriers in liquids and melted ionic solids (see eg. the Hall-Heroult process for an example of electrolysis of a melt).

In plasma, eg. in an electric arc, the electrons and cations of ionized gas and vaporized material of electrodes act as charge carriers. (The electrode vaporization occurs in vacuum too, but then the arc is not technically occuring in vacuum, but in low-pressure electrode vapors.)

In vacuum, in an electric arc or in vacuum tubes free electrons act as charge carriers.

In metals, the charge carriers are the electrons forming the Fermi gas in the metal lattice.

Majority and minority carriers in semiconductors

In semiconductors, electrons and holes act as charge carriers. The more abundant charge carriers are called majority carriers. In N-type semiconductors they are electrons, in P-type semiconductors they are holes. The less abundant charge carriers are called minority carriers; in N-type semiconductors they are holes, in P-type semiconductors they are electrons.

Minority carriers play important role in bipolar transistors. However, they play no role in MOSFET transistors.

When an electron meets with a hole, they recombine and vanish. The energy released can be either thermal, heating up the semiconductor (thermal recombination, one of the sources of waste heat in semiconductors), or released as photons (optical recombination, used in LEDs and semiconductor lasers.de:LadungsträgerTemplate:Physics-stub

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