ECE 59500 - Semiconductor Fundamentals


This course will run the first 5 weeks of the semester and is available through EdX and on-campus. Students will have access to the instructor through a discussion forum and by office hours. If there is sufficient enrollment, weekly help sessions will be scheduled.

Course Details

Lecture Hours: 3 Credits: 1

Areas of Specialization:

  • Microelectronics and Nanotechnology

Counts as:

  • EE Elective
  • CMPE Selective - Special Content

Normally Offered:

Each Spring


On-campus and online


(PHYS 27200 or PHYS 24100) and CHM 11500 and (MA 26600 or MA 26200)

Requisites by Topic:

Undergraduate physics, chemistry and mathematics

Catalog Description:

This course is about semiconductors designed to provide the necessary foundation to understand the operation of semiconductor devices such as transistors, diodes, solar cells, light-emitting devices, etc. The deep understanding needed by researchers advancing the state-of-the-art in semiconductor materials and devices requires deep knowledge of concepts from condensed matter physics, statistical mechanics, and thermodynamics. This course is designed for ECE students whose interests are in the application of semiconductor devices in circuits and systems as well as for students from other disciplines seeking an understanding of semiconductors from an electrical engineering perspective. The treatment of fundamentals is descriptive and intuitive. the course prepares students to understand the operation of semiconductor devices and provides a starting point for those who wish to go deeper. Semiconductor fundamentals such as bandgaps, effective masses, electrons and holes, the Fermi function, doping and carrier densities, carrier transport and generation-recombination are discussed as is the important concepts of quasi-Fermi levels. The course concludes with the "semiconductor equations," which provide a complete, mathematical description of electrons and holes in semiconductors (subject to some important simplifying assumptions) and with a discussion of how energy band diagrams provide a qualitative solution to these equations.

Required Text(s):

  1. Semiconductor Fundamentals (Lecture notes by M.S. Lundstrom - to be published by World Scientific)

Recommended Text(s):

  1. Advanced Semiconductor Fundamentals , 2nd Edition , R. F. Pierret , Pearson Education, Inc. , 2003 , ISBN No. 0-13-061792-X

Learning Outcomes

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

  • an understanding of basic semiconductor materials properties and of the behavior of electrons and holes in semiconductors
  • an ability to simplify and apply the semiconductor equations to specific problems
  • an ability to draw and interpret energy band diagrams

Lecture Outline:

Hours Topics
Unit 1 Material Properties: Energy levels to energy bands; Crystalline, polycrystalline, and amorphous semiconductors; Miller indices; properties of common semiconductors; free carriers in semiconductors; doping
Unit 2 Quantum mechanics: The wave equation; Quantum confinement; Quantum tunneling and reflection; Electron waves in crystals; Density of states
Unit 3 Equilibrium carrier concentrations: The Fermi function; Fermi-Dirac integrals; Carrier concentration vs. Fermi level; Carrier concentration vs. doping density; Carrier concentration vs. temperature;
Unit 4 Carrier Transport, Recombination, and Generation: The Landauer approach, Current from the nanoscale to macroscale; Drift-diffusion equation; Recombination and generation
Unit 5 The Semiconductor Equations: Mathematical formulation; Energy band diagrams; Quasi-Fermi levels; Minority carrier diffusion equation

Assessment Method: