Fan, Hsu Y. Formerly, Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.
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The highest electronic energy band in a semiconductor or insulator which can be filled with electrons. The electrons in the valence band correspond to the valence electrons of the constituent atoms. In a semiconductor or insulator, at sufficiently low temperatures, the valence band is completely filled, and the conduction band is empty of electrons. Some of the high energy levels in the valence band may become vacant as a result of thermal excitation of electrons to higher energy bands or as a result of the presence of impurities. When some electrons are missing, the remaining ones may be redistributed among the energy levels within the valence band under an applied electric field, giving rise to an electric current. The net effect of the valence band is then equivalent to that of a few particles which are equal in number and similar in motion to the missing electrons but each of which carries a positive electronic charge. These “particles” are referred to as holes. See also: Band theory of solids; Conduction band; Electric insulator; Hole states in solids; Semiconductor
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