Skip to main content

Semiconductor Fundamentals

From smartphones to satellites, semiconductors are everywhere. Tying together physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering, this easy-to-follow introduction provides the background needed to understand devices such as transistors and solar cells.

There is one session available:

7,972 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archived.
Starts Jan 10, 2022
Ends Feb 21, 2022
Estimated 6 weeks
8–9 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule
Free
Optional upgrade available

About this course

Skip About this course

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 by Professor Lundstrom.

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 Nano-Science and Technology. For further information and other courses offered and planned, please see the Nano-Science and Technology page. Courses like this can also apply toward a Purdue University MSECE degree for students accepted into the full master’s program.

At a glance

  • Institution: PurdueX
  • Subject: Electronics
  • Level: Advanced
  • Prerequisites:

    Undergraduate physics, chemistry, and mathematics including basic differential equations.

What you'll learn

Skip 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
  • generation-recombination
  • 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.

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

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

Interested in this course for your business or team?

Train your employees in the most in-demand topics, with edX for Business.