Standard Article

Characterization of pn Junctions

Electrical and Electronic Measurement

  1. Albert G. Baca

Published Online: 15 OCT 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0471266965.com039

Characterization of Materials

Characterization of Materials

How to Cite

Baca, A. G. 2002. Characterization of pn Junctions. Characterization of Materials. 1–6.

Author Information

  1. Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 OCT 2002


The pn junction of a semiconductor material forms part of many commercially important devices such as bipolar junction transistors (BJTs), heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBTs), junction field-effect transistors (JFETs), and various kinds of diodes (e.g., Zener, rectifying, laser, light emitting). Semiconductor engineers routinely use the current-voltage (I–V) measurement technique both for the design of semiconductor devices and for yield or process checks during manufacture. The I–V measurement technique is also considered to be a method in materials research because it is used to characterize semiconductor materials and processes used to create these materials. The pn junction I–V technique is useful in materials research because complementary techniques often do not definitively answer whether the material quality is sufficiently good to operate as required in a semiconductor device. The technique can definitely be used on pn junctions present in state-of-the-art semiconductor devices, but in most materials research laboratories, diodes with large feature sizes and considerably simplified sample preparation are preferred for rapid turnaround and lower equipment cost. The technique is most often used when the purpose of characterizing the material is for fabrication of pn junction devices such as BJTs, HBTs, JFETs, and diode structures for a number of applications, including semiconductor lasers and light-emitting diodes. In that case, the method can be used primarily as a measure of material quality in a device application or as routine intermediate process characterization during device fabrication.


  • pn junction;
  • semiconductors;
  • field-effect transistors;
  • I–V technique;
  • JFET;
  • HBT