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We give a theoretical interpretation of the noise properties of Schottky barrier diodes based on the role played by the long range Coulomb interaction. We show that at low bias Schottky diodes display shot noise because the presence of the depletion layer makes the effects of the Coulomb interaction negligible on the current fluctuations. When the device passes from barrier to flat band conditions, the Coulomb interaction becomes active, thus introducing correlation between different current fluctuations. Therefore, the crossover between shot and thermal noise represents the suppression due to long range Coulomb interaction of the otherwise full shot noise. Similar ideas can be used to interpret the noise properties of other semiconductor devices. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.