I was reading "Electronic Devices and Circuits" by Boylestad, and in there the author talks about how the semiconductor industry seeks to add as little impurities as possible when manufacturing semiconductors.

What I don't understand is why it is so important to keep the material's purity? What characteristics are improved by doing that? If the objective of doping is improve the conductivity of the material (in a controlled manner), wouldn't reducing the ammount of doping material decrease that efficiency?


2 Answers 2


Semiconductors are based on impurities. They just call it doping. The addition of group 3 (Boron group) or group 5 (Nitrogen group) impurities create a hole or an extra electrno, respectively. These form charge carriers which are necessary for a semiconductor to be used in a circuit. However, the dopants need to be added in highly controlled and precise amounts to get the necessary mobility. The silicon also needs to be highly pure for regular electronic response, for regular electronic properties over arbitrary distances. Another important consideration is that the dopant allows some degree of tuning of the electrical conductivity of the semiconductor.

Also, highly pure crystalline silicon fractures nicely along the crystal planes, meaning it can be cut with high precision. Since most mass-produced electronic processors are made on 12- or 16-inch silicon wafers with dozens of devices manufactured at once, and initially all physically connected, the ability to precisely excise each tiny circuit is critical for high through put and yield in manufacturing.


If you add too much dopant to silicon the silicon will become conductive. In order other words it becomes a resistor, not a semiconductor.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When something becomes conductive it absolutely does not become a resistor. $\endgroup$
    – Lighthart
    Mar 21, 2016 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Lighthart :-( It wouldn't become an insulator, nor superconductive, so there is resistance. V=iR as I remember. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Mar 21, 2016 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ Does that mean, according to your language, semiconductors are not conductive either? $\endgroup$
    – Lighthart
    Mar 21, 2016 at 21:25

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