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.
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.
Semiconductor Fundamentals is one course in a growing suite of unique, 1-credit-hour short courses being developed in an edX/Purdue University collaboration. Students may elect to pursue a verified certificate for this specific course alone or as one of the six courses needed for the edX/Purdue MicroMasters program in Nanoscience and Technology. For further information and other courses offered and planned, please see the Nanoscience and Technology page. Courses like this can also apply toward a Purdue University MSECE degree for students accepted into the full master’s program.
Upcoming start dates
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- Virtual Classroom
Who should attend?
Undergraduate physics, chemistry, and mathematics including basic differential equations.
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
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
Students will learn about the following specific topics:
- energy bands
- band gaps
- effective masses
- electrons and holes
- basics of quantum mechanics
- the Fermi function
- the density-of-states
- intrinsic carrier density
- doping and carrier concentrations
- carrier transport
- quasi-Fermi levels
- the semiconductor equations
- energy band diagrams
Among the important learning objectives, the course will introduce learners to the process of drawing and interpreting energy band diagrams. Energy band diagrams are a powerful, conceptual way to qualitatively understand the operation of semiconductor devices. In a concise way, they encapsulate most of the device-relevant specifics of semiconductor physics. Drawing and interpreting an energy band diagram is the first step in understanding the operation of a device.
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.
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