ECE 50631 - Fundamentals of Current Flow


This is a 5-week course that corresponds to the beginning of ECE 50653.

Course Details

Lecture Hours: 3 Credits: 1

Areas of Specialization:

  • Microelectronics and Nanotechnology

Counts as:

  • EE Elective
  • CMPE Special Content Elective

Normally Offered:

Each Fall, Spring, Summer


On-campus and online


MA 26200 or (MA 26500 and MA 26600)

Requisites by Topic:

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra

Catalog Description:

This course presents a new perspective that has emerged in the last two decades and provides a powerful approach to new questions at the frontier of modern nanoelectronics. We believe this new perspective is of general interest, not just for electrical engineers, but for anyone interested in an atomic level understanding of everyday processes, like the flow of heat and electrical current. With this in mind, we have developed this course, assuming very little background beyond linear algebra and differential equations. But we discuss very advanced concepts involving non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, and that is why graduate level maturity is necessary.

Required Text(s):

  1. Lessons from Nanoelectronics, Part A: Basic Concepts (full text provided in Brightspace) , 2nd Edition , Datta, S. , World Scientific , 2017 , ISBN No. 13: 978-9813209749

Recommended Text(s):


Learning Outcomes

A student who successfully fulfills the course requirements will have demonstrated an ability to:

  • Explain the new perspective on conductivity and its relation to the standard Drude formula.
  • Evaluate quantities like the density of states, number of modes, electron density and conductivity for a given energy-momentum relation.
  • Explain concepts like the minimum interface resistance and the two Landauer formulas.

Lecture Outline:

Weeks Topic
2 Weeks Unit 1, The New Perspective: Intro, Two Key Concepts, Why Electrons Flow, Conductance Formula, Ballistic (B) Conductance, Diffusive (D) Conductance, Connecting B to D, Angular Averaging, Drude Formula
3 Weeks Unit 2, Energy Band Model: Intro, E(p) or E(k) Relation, Counting States, Density of States, Number of Modes, Electron Density (n), Conductivity vs. n, A New Boundary Condition, Quasi-Fermi Levels (QFLs), Current from QFLs, Landauer Formulas

Assessment Method:

Students in this course will be evaluated by exams. (3/2022)