Chapter 1

Semiconductors and junction diodes


The 1950s marked the beginning of a revolution in electronics. It started with the invention by William Shockley of the transistor, a minute three-terminal device which could switch, amplify and oscillate yet needed only a few microwatts of power; it was also robust and virtually everlasting. Inevitably the transistor replaced the electron tube (valve) in all except very high power applications.

The pace of the revolution was accelerated a decade later by the development of the integrated circuit or i.c. (popularly known as the silicon chip) in which transistors and other components are manufactured and interconnected by the planar process (see Appendix A) to form amplifiers, signal stores ...

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