An N-type semiconductor (N for Negative) is obtained by carrying out a process of doping, that is, by adding an impurity of valence-five elements to a valence-four semiconductor in order to increase the number of free charge carriers (in this case negative).

When the doping material is added, it gives away (donates) weakly-bound outer electrons to the semiconductor atoms. This type of doping agent is also known as donor material since it gives away some of its electrons.

The purpose of N-type doping is to produce an abundance of mobile or "carrier" electrons in the material. To help understand how N-type doping is accomplished, consider the case of silicon (Si). Si atoms have four valence electrons, each of which is covalently bonded with each of the four adjacent Si atoms. If an atom with five valence electrons, such as those from group 15 (old group VA, a.k.a. nitrogen group) of the periodic table (eg. phosphorus (P), arsenic (As), or antimony (Sb)), is incorporated into the crystal lattice in place of a Si atom, then that atom will have four covalent bonds and one unbonded electron. This extra electron is only weakly bound to the atom and can easily be excited into the conduction band. At normal temperatures, virtually all such electrons are excited into the conduction band. Since excitation of these electrons does not result in the formation of a hole, the number of electrons in such a material far exceeds the number of holes. In this case the electrons are the majority carriers and the holes are the minority carriers. Because the five-electron atoms have an extra electron to "donate", they are called donor atoms. Note that each movable electron within the semiconductor is never far from an immobile positive dopant ion, and the N-doped material normally has a net electric charge of zero.

To a first approximation, a sufficiently doped N-type semiconductor can be thought of as only conducting electrons.

In an N-type semiconductor, the fermi level lies closer to the conduction band edge.

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