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Primer on Semiconductor Fundamentals

Purdue University via edX

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Overview

This course provides the essential foundations required to understand the operation of semiconductor devices such as transistors, diodes, solar cells, light-emitting devices, and more. The material will primarily appeal to electrical engineering students whose interests are in applications of semiconductor devices in circuits and systems. The treatment is physical and intuitive, and not heavily mathematical.

Technology users will gain an understanding of the semiconductor physics that is the basis for devices.  Semiconductor technology developers may find it a useful starting point for diving deeper into condensed matter physics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, and materials science. The course presents an electrical engineering perspective on semiconductors, but those in other fields may find it a useful introduction to the approach that has guided the development of semiconductor technology for the past 50+ years.


This course material is typically covered in the first few weeks of an introductory semiconductor device course, but this class provides a fresh perspective informed by new understanding of electronics at the nanoscale.

 

This course is the first in a set of 1-credit courses on semiconductor technologies. Courses that follow – on topics such as transistors, solar cells, power semiconductor devices, etc. will assume a basic understanding of semiconductor physics as conveyed in this course.

Syllabus

Week 1: Materials properties and doping
  • Energy levels to energy bands
  • Crystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous semiconductors
  • Miller indices
  • Properties of common semiconductors
  • Free carriers in semiconductors
Week 2: Rudiments of quantum mechanics
  • The wave equation
  • Quantum confinement
  • Quantum tunneling and reflection
  • Electron waves in crystals
  • Density of states
Week 3: Equilibrium carrier concentration
  • The Fermi function
  • Fermi-Dirac integrals
  • Carrier concentration vs. Fermi level
  • Carrier concentration vs. doping density
  • Carrier concentration vs. temperature
Week 4: Carrier transport, generation, and recombination
  • The Landauer approach
  • Current from the nanoscale to the macroscale
  • Drift-diffusion equation
  • Carrier recombination
  • Carrier generation
Week 5: The semiconductor equations
  • Mathematical formulation
  • Energy band diagrams
  • Quasi-Fermi levels
  • Minority carrier diffusion equation

Taught by

Mark S. Lundstrom, Bikram K. Mahajan and Woojin Ahn

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