Semiconductors are materials that have been specifically designed to be used in electronic devices and circuits. Made of carbon, silicon, germanium, and silicon-germanium, they connect and conduct electricity and heat. In 2017, the global market for semiconductors was over $400 billion, demonstrating how essential they are to modern society.
As a semiconductor supplier company, RS offers a comprehensive range of semiconductor devices from leading manufacturers. Our broad portfolio includes products from ON Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics, Vishay, Microchip, Infineon, Analog Devices, and many more.
Our extensive semiconductor range provides a single point of supply throughout an electronic product life-cycle. For prototyping, we offer an extensive variety of development boards and silicon in convenient small quantities. To cater for production we also supply silicon in manufacturer standard bulk packaging, such as trays, tubes and reels etc. Combined with the wide variety of semiconductor device types and technologies on offer, RS is an excellent source for all your electronic component needs.
What is a Semiconductor
Simplistically, a semiconductor is a material that has an electrical conductance between that of an insulator and a conductor. This means that a semiconductor can conduct current, but only partially. This key characteristic provides the foundation for modern electronic devices.
Semiconductors are essential in electronics as their properties can be modified and manipulated to provide useful functionality. For example, in a mosfet transistor, a voltage can be applied to the semiconductor material from which it is constructed to control whether the mosfet conducts current or not, providing an electronic, solid state switch. Another example would be a rectifier, where the semiconductor construction means that current can flow more easily in one direction than the other, providing directional current flow control.
The most common semiconductor material used by companies is silicon. This term is becoming ubiquitous to describe PCB semiconductor devices as a whole.
Common Semiconductor Devices Types
There are hundreds, if not thousands of semiconductor device types that can be split into two broad device types:
- Discretes: A simple device, a device with just one circuit element. Common examples include transistors such as mosfets, diodes, TRIACS and LEDs.
- Integrated Circuits (ICs): Electronic devices that incorporate several circuit elements into one package. Examples include microcontrollers, microprocessors, analogue-to-digital converters, operational amplifiers and voltage regulators.