Fan, Hsu Y. Formerly, Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
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An impurity atom in a semiconductor which can contribute or donate one or more conduction electrons to the crystal by becoming ionized and positively charged. For example, an atom of column V of the periodic table, such as phosphorus, arsenic, or antimony, substituting for a regular atom of a germanium or silicon crystal is a donor because it has one or more valence electrons which can be detached and added to the conduction band of the crystal (see illustration). Donor atoms thus tend to increase the number of conduction electrons in the semiconductor. The ionization energy of a donor atom is the energy required to dissociate the electron from the atom and put it in the conduction band of the crystal. See also: Acceptor atom; Semiconductor
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