Professional Course

Fundamentals of Transistors

edX, Online
6 weeks
6 weeks
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Course description

Fundamentals of Transistors

The transistor has been called the greatest invention of the 20th century - it enabled the electronics systems that have shaped the world we live in. Today's nanotransistors are a high volume, high impact success of the nanotechnology revolution. This is a course on how this scientifically interesting and technologically important device operates. The course is designed for anyone seeking a sound, physical, intuitive understanding of how modern transistors operate. Important technology considerations and applications of transistors are also discussed. The focus is on MOSFETs for digital logic, but analog applications and other types of transistors are briefly considered.

This course is broadly accessible to students with only a very basic knowledge of semiconductor physics and electronic circuits. Topics include device metrics for digital and analog circuits, traditional MOSFET theory, the virtual source model, 1D and 2D electrostatics, Landauer/transmission approach to nanotransistors, the limits of MOSFETs, as well as a quick look at HEMTs, bipolar transistors, and compact circuit models. The course should be useful for advanced undergraduates, beginning graduate students, as well as practicing engineers and scientists.

This course is part of a Purdue initiative that aims to complement the expertise that students develop with the breadth at the edges needed to work effectively in today's multidisciplinary environment. These serious short courses require few prerequisites and provide a general framework that can be filled in with self-study when needed.

Students taking this course will be required to complete two (2) proctored exams using the edX online Proctortrack software.

Completed exams will be scanned and sent using Gradescope for grading.

Who should attend?


A basic understanding of semiconductors as typically taught in an undergraduate or beginning graduate level semiconductor device course is assumed. No familiarity with electronics or transistors is assumed, but those with such a background will gain an understanding of how nanoscale transistors differ from their micrometer-scale cousins.

Training content

Unit 1: Transistors and Circuits

  • L1.1: The MOSFET as a Black Box
  • L1.2: Digital Circuits
  • L1.3: Analog/RF Circuits
  • L1.4: MOSFET Device Metrics
  • L1.5: Compact Models
  • L1.6: Unit 1 Recap

Unit 2: Essential Physics of the MOSFET

  • L2.1: Energy Band Diagram Review
  • L2.2: Energy Band View of MOSFETs
  • L2.3: MOSFET IV Theory
  • L2.4: The Square Law MOSFET
  • L2.5: The Virtual Source model
  • L2.6: Unit 2 Recap

Unit 3: MOS Electrostatics

  • L3.1: The Energy Band Diagram Approach
  • L3.2: The Depletion Approximation
  • L3.3: Gate Voltage and Surface Potential
  • L3.4 Flat-Band Voltage
  • L3.5: MOS CV
  • L3.6: The Mobile Charge vs. Surface Potential
  • L3.7: The Mobile Charge vs. Gate Voltage
  • L3.8: 2D MOS Electrostatics
  • L3.9: The VS model revisited
  • L3.10: Unit 3 Recap

Unit 4: Transmission theory of the MOSFET

  • L4.1: Landauer Approach
  • L4.2: Landauer at Low and High Bias
  • L4.3 The Ballistic MOSFET
  • L4.4 Velocity at the Virtual Source
  • L4.5: Transmission Theory of the MOSFET
  • L4.6: The VS model Revisited
  • L4.7: Analysis of Experiments
  • L4.8: Unit 4 Recap

Unit 5: Additional Topics

  • L5.1: Limits of MOSFETs
  • L5.2: Power MOSFETs
  • L5.3: High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMTs)
  • L5.4: Review of PN Junctions
  • L5.5: Heterostructure Bipolar Transistors (HBTs)
  • L5.6: A Second Look at Compact models
  • L5.7: Unit 5 RecapL5.5: Compact models - another look

Course delivery details

This course is offered through Purdue University, a partner institute of EdX.

8-9 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$750
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

  • MOSFET IV characteristics and device metrics and how to analyze measured transistor characteristics and extract key device parameters.
  • The physical operation of transistors and the traditional theory of the MOSFET.
  • 1D/2D/3D MOS electrostatics and the need for advanced MOSFET structures such as the FinFET.
  • How modern transport theory (the transmission approach) is applied to nanoscale MOSFETs.
  • How other transistors, such as HEMTs and bipolar transistors, operate.
  • What a physics-based compact model is and the role they play in electronic design.

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