18 Difference Between Conductors, Semiconductors and Insulators (With Table)

Physic is a branch of science that deals with the structure of matter and how its constituents interact with nature. The scope of physic comprises mechanical and electrical studies.

Electrical scope deals with electricity and conductivity. Conductors, semiconductors, and insulators are crucial components that entail conductivity.

So, what is the main difference between conductors, semiconductors, and insulators? Conductors are materials that allow electric flow. Semiconductors are materials that possess moderate conductivity. Insulators inhibit the flow of electric current in them.

This article provides further differences between conductors, semiconductors, and insulators in a tabular form. Take the time to read through it and get to know their examples.

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Comparison Table (Conductors vs Semiconductors vs Insulators)

Basic Terms Conductors Semiconductors Insulators
MeaningThese are substances that allow an electric current to flow through them.These are substances that allow the moderate flow of electric charge.These are substances that do not allow the flow of electric current.
ConductivityHighModerateLow
Forbidden GabDoes not existSmall existenceLarge existence
ResistivityLowModerateHigh
Temperature coefficient of resistancePositiveNegativeNegative
Charge carriers on the conduction bandCompletely filledPartially filledCompletely empty
Conduction electronsNumerousVery lessNeutral numbers
Current flowCaused by the presence of free electrons.Caused by free electrons and holesA negligible number of free electrons.
Valence electronsOnly one valency electron in the outermost energy levelFour valence electrons in the outermost energy level.Eight valence electrons in the outermost energy level.
Overlapping BandsValence and conduction bands overlapValence and conduction bands have a separate gap of 1.1eV.Both bands are divided by an energy gap of 6eV – 10eV.
Type of BondsMetallic bondingCovalent bondingIonic bonding
Effect of temperature on conductivityDecreasesIncreasesincreases
Effect of dopingResistance increasesResistance remains unchanged.Resistance decreases.
Absolute zeroBehaves like superconductorsBehaves like insulatorsBehave like insulators
Effect of increasing temperatureElectron carriers decrease.Electron carries increasesThe electron carries increases.
ApplicationsConducting wires and transformers.Diodes, transistors, and optocouplersSports equipment and home appliances.
ExamplesCopper, Aluminum, graphite, etc.Silicon, Germanium, arsenic, etc.Paper, rubber, glass, plastic, etc.

What Are Conductors?

Conductors are substances that allow the easy flow of electric current through them. The permission occurs when the electrons move from one atom to another when a proper electric field is applied.

These materials contain high conductivity when compared to semiconductors and insulators. The voltage charge forces the electrons to move from the valence band to the conduction band due to electrical fields.

The movement of charge carriers allows the flow of large electric current through the device. Examples of conductors are copper, aluminum, and graphite.

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What Are Semiconductors?

Semiconductors are substances that possess moderate electrical conductivity properties. But the charge carriers are both electrons and holes.

When the temperature is absolute zero, semiconductors behave like insulators. It happens since there is no free movement of electrons in the outermost shell.

The valance band and conduction band do not overlap in semiconductors. It is the reason behind the small energy difference with conductors. Examples of semiconductors are silicon and arsenic.

What Are Insulators?

Insulators are substances that inhibit the flow of electric current through them. These materials are termed as poor conductors of electrical charge.

The energy gap is quite high and this does not excite valence electrons in the outermost shell. It happens since the electrons cannot jump into the conduction band from the valence band.

But extremely high temperatures can force the electrons to jump into the conduction band and allow electric current flow. Examples of insulators are papers and rubbers.

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Difference Between Conductors, Semiconductors, and Insulators

  1. Conductors have high conductivity. Semiconductors have moderate conductivity. Insulators have low conductivity.
  2. Conductors have low resistance. Semiconductors have moderate resistance. Insulators have high resistance.
  3. Conductors have completely filled conduction band. Semiconductors have partially filled a conduction band. Insulators have completely empty conduction band.
  4. Conductors have metallic bonding. Semiconductors have covalent bonding. Insulators have ionic bonding.
  5. Conductors have no forbidden gap. Semiconductors have a small forbidden gap. Insulators have a large forbidden gap.

In Conclusion

Conductors, semiconductors, and insulators have numerous industrial applications. The application of these materials is based on their electrical conductivity and other crucial properties.

The movement of electrons from the valency band into the conduction band is the reason behind the electrical current flow. Semiconductors lie between conductors and insulators.

Therefore, the main difference between conductors, semiconductors, and insulators is based on conductivity. Conductors and semiconductors allow the flow of current, unlike insulators.

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