Most materials are conductors, insulators, or something in-between, but a special class of materials known as semiconductors can be persuaded to exhibit both conducting and insulating properties. The first semiconductor to undergo evaluation was the element germanium (chemical symbol Ge). However, for a variety of reasons, silicon (chemical symbol Si) replaced germanium as the semiconductor of choice. As silicon is the main constituent of sand and one of the most common elements on earth (silicon accounts for approximately 28% of the earth’s crust), we aren’t in any danger of running out of it in the foreseeable future.
Pure crystalline silicon acts as an insulator; however, scientists ...