Energy bands consisting of a large number of closely spaced energy levels exist in crystalline materials. The bands can be thought of as the collection of the individual energy levels of electrons surrounding each atom. The wavefunctions of the individual electrons, however, overlap with those of electrons confined to neighboring atoms. The Pauli exclusion principle does not allow the electron energy levels to be the same so that one obtains a set of closely spaced energy levels, forming an energy band. The energy band model is crucial to any detailed treatment of semiconductor devices. It provides the framework needed to understand the concept of an energy bandgap and that of conduction in an almost filled band as described by the empty states.

In this section, we present the free electron model and the Kronig-Penney model. Then we discuss the energy bands of semiconductors and present a simplified band diagram. We also introduce the concept of holes and the effective mass.