A semiconductor is a material that has an electrical conductivity value that falls between that of a conductor and that of an insulator. A conductor is a material that passes electrical current very easily (primarily metals, such as gold), while an insulator is a material that does not pass an electrical current (such as glass or rubber). Semiconductors are found at the core of much of modern technology – at least anything that's computerized or uses radio waves – including microprocessor chips.
Semiconductor devices are electrical components that leverage the properties of semiconductor materials. They can offer a range of performance characteristics such as light or heat sensitivity or the ability to pass current more readily in one direction than the other. The simplest semiconductor device is a diode.
Solid-State Means Semiconductor
The term "solid-state", which became popularized in the 1960s, is synonymous with semiconductor electronics (defined as equipment that uses semiconductor devices, such as diodes or transistors). It was originally used to differentiate semiconductors, which move electricity in a "solid state", from older vacuum tubes, which moved electricity in a gaseous state.
Today, solid-state also commonly refers to applications that use semiconductor devices to eliminate mechanical or moving parts, such as replacing the rotating disks of legacy hard disk drives.
Phononic & Semiconductor Applications
Phononic is an innovator of solid-state refrigeration. We use semiconductor chips to generate cooling rather than the mechanical compressors of legacy refrigeration and freezing. By taking this unique approach, we have been able to develop a line of refrigerators and freezers that offer temperature stability and control that far outperforms traditional alternatives. Our solutions also deliver lower energy usage and excellent longevity as compared to compressor-based refrigerators.
On the component side, Phononic designs and develops TECs (thermoelectric coolers), which are small semiconductor devices that are used to cool the high-powered laser diodes inside laser packages used on fiber optic network cables. Our TECs offer up to 30% less power consumption and up to 60% better heat pumping density than alternatives, in a very small form factor.
As the optoelectronics industry continues to see growth and anticipates more new technologies to be unveiled in the coming year, we can expect the same for optical communications.
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