Copyright

Semiconductors & Superconductors: Definition & Properties

Semiconductors & Superconductors: Definition & Properties
Coming up next: Ohm's Law: Definition & Relationship Between Voltage, Current & Resistance

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 What Is a Superconductor?
  • 1:11 Applications of…
  • 1:39 What Is a Semiconductor?
  • 2:16 Applications of Semiconductors
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Have you ever wondered how an MRI works or how cell phones are able to become more advanced? After completing this lesson, you'll be able to explain what semiconductors and superconductors are and give examples of how they are used.

What Is a Superconductor?

A superconductor is a material that acts strangely when cooled down to a certain temperature. When these materials are at that one special temperature, which we call the critical temperature, they suddenly become perfect conductors. What do we mean by this? Well, it means that their resistance is zero. A current in a superconductor can keep flowing without any decay, forever.

For most materials, this critical temperature is so incredibly cold that it would take a long time for us to even be able to achieve it. The critical temperature usually between absolute zero and 10 Kelvin (or between -273 Celsius and -263 Celsius). However, in recent decades, we've discovered materials that act as superconductors at much higher temperatures, as high as 125 Kelvin (or -148 Celsius). This is still extremely cold, but much more easily achievable for real life applications since we can achieve these temperatures simply by using liquid nitrogen.

Applications of Superconductors

Superconductors can be used to create powerful electromagnets, like those used in MRI scanners in hospitals. They can also be used to separate magnetic and non-magnetic materials.

The hope is that we will one day be able to use superconductors to create vehicles that use magnetism and levitation to propel themselves forward. We might also be able to use them to create more advanced forms of energy storage.

What Is a Semiconductor?

A semiconductor is a material that has conductivity somewhere between that of a conductor and an insulator. In other words, they're not as conductive as metals, but more conductive than plastics and other insulators. Examples include silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenic.

We can vary how pure these substances are and use this to change the conductivity of the material at will. This way, we can fine tune the material to be exactly as conductive as we want it to be. The process of adding impurities is called doping.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support