Computer chips, LEDs, and transistors are just a few examples of devices that are made out of semiconductor materials. While the main raw material used in semiconductor devices is silicon, there are other materials that can be used by silicon wafer manufacturers as well. Let’s take a look at some of the materials that are used to make semiconductors.
Silicon is the second most abundant element on earth, making up almost over 25% of the earth's crust by weight. It is also by far the most popular material used to make semiconductors. It is believed that China is the largest producer of silicon, followed by the United States. As a result, the majority of silicon wafer suppliers are located in California, Oregon, Florida, Asia-Pacific, China, and Europe.
Germanium is a chemical element that is similar in appearance to silicon. Germanium is less useful than silicon due to its thermal sensitivity and cost, but it is still alloyed with silicon for use in some high-speed devices. The leader in germanium production in China, with the other major producers including the USA, Canada, Russia, and Belgium.
Gallium arsenide is a compound of two elements: arsenic and gallium. It is more expensive than silicon and due to its composition is limited to small wafer diameter sizes. The major countries producing gallium arsenide include China, Germany, Japan, and Ukraine.