In solid-state physics, the valence band and conduction band are the bands closest to the Fermi level and thus determine the electrical conductivity of the solid. In electrical insulators and semiconductors, the valence band is the highest range of electron energies in which electrons are normally present at absolute zero temperature. For example, a silicon atom has fourteen electrons. In the ground state, they are arranged in the electron configuration [Ne]3s23p2. Four of these are valence electrons, occupying the 3s orbital and two of the 3p orbitals. The distinction between the valence and conduction bands is meaningless in metals because conduction occurs in one or more partially filled bands that take on the properties of both the valence and conduction bands.
The term “Fermi level” comes from Fermi-Dirac statistics, which describes a distribution of particles over energy states in systems consisting of fermions (electrons) that obey the Pauli exclusion principle. Since they cannot exist in identical energy states, Fermi level is the term used to describe the top of the collection of electron energy levels at absolute zero temperature. The Fermi level is the surface of the Fermi sea at absolute zero, where no electrons will have enough energy to rise above the surface. In metals, the Fermi level lies in the hypothetical conduction band giving rise to free conduction electrons. In semiconductors, the position of the Fermi level is within the band gap, approximately in the middle of the band gap.