Why are semiconductors called solid state devices?

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
The consumer doesn't see the phrase more but if I recall it was splashed all over the place just when transistors devices were coming on the market, solid state receiver, solid state television, solid state radio etc.

Solid state compared to what? Liquid state? Gas state? Even the vacuum tube did not use gas. Electrons moved through a vacuum not gas.

So where did the phrase "solid state" come from when it refers to semiconductor devices? The only thing I can think of is the the semiconductor device is a seemingly solid piece of material when compared to a vacuum tube but that is about it.
 

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
14,701
The consumer doesn't see the phrase more but if I recall it was splashed all over the place just when transistors devices were coming on the market, solid state receiver, solid state television, solid state radio etc.

Solid state compared to what? Liquid state? Gas state? Even the vacuum tube did not use gas. Electrons moved through a vacuum not gas.

So where did the phrase "solid state" come from when it refers to semiconductor devices? The only thing I can think of is the the semiconductor device is a seemingly solid piece of material when compared to a vacuum tube but that is about it.
You have the essence of the distinction. It is not liquid, gas, or plasma which are the only other possibilities.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,751
Of course semiconductor device are solid, it comes from the Solid-state physics of rigid matter, or solids. A branch of physics that semiconductor operations are best modeled by (using things like http://newton.ex.ac.uk/research/qsystems/people/coomer/dft_intro.html) in condensed matter physics. The lattice where the action happens is created by material science processes that use Solid-state physics to model the expected behaviors when they are modified by other materials or a change in the lattice configuration due to controlled transitions to other phases of matter and back.
 
Last edited:

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
25,680
Solid state compared to what? Liquid state? Gas state? Even the vacuum tube did not use gas. Electrons moved through a vacuum not gas.
So it's a vacuum state. ;)
Well if you think about it a semiconductor device is solid either. It is 2 or more separate materials.
They are not separate. It consists of a single material with different impurities diffused into it to make the transistors, etc.
 
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GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Well if you think about it a semiconductor device is solid either. It is 2 or more separate materials.
The other option (vacuum tubes) depend on electrons flying off of a hot filament so those are not solid state. Silicon, germanium and the group II/VI and group III/V materials are quite solid.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012

takao21203

Joined Apr 28, 2012
3,695
Solid state TV / Tube TV

Ofcourse was used for marketing when the first transistor sets became available, back then usually was called solid state, a transition from electron tubes to transistors
 
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