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Physics & Applications of Semiconductor Devices - PHY00018M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Roland Kroger
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information

Students wishing to take this module should have taken Statistical Mechanics & Solid State II - PHY00049H or (NS) Solid State II - PHY00060H

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

Based on the models developed in Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics as well as in Solid State Physics (Introduction to Solid State Physics and Electrons in Solids), this course discusses the links between our fundamental understanding of electronic states in materials and the application of this understanding in micro- and optoelectronics as well as detector-physics. It will cover and revisit vital concepts such as crystal symmetries and defects, band structures, phonon dispersion, the interaction of charge carriers with external fields and the effect on the electronic and optical properties. Experimental techniques to synthesize semiconductors and to study their physical properties will be discussed for some of the most prominent semiconductor materials such as Si, GaAs, GaN and Ge.

A large part of this course will focus on the application of these concepts and techniques for well-established and novel devices such as transistors, metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs), light emitting diodes/laser diodes and particle detectors.

Module learning outcomes

This module covers the fundamental concepts relevant for the understanding of the physical properties of semiconducting materials, their fabrication, their characterisation, and their assembly into technological devices. The skills obtained throughout this course are of great importance in society and economy, which are both increasingly driven by the application of electronics in all walks of life.

At the end of this course the students will be able to:

describe the relevance of the crystal structure and atomic bonds for the fundamental electronic properties

explain the main techniques for the structural characterisation of semiconductors (electron microscopy, spectroscopic techniques, X-ray diffraction)

apply the band structure model and effective mass concept to determine band gap width and mobility of charge carriers

identify the important transport and scattering processes at work in semiconductors (drift, diffusion, generation, recombination, thermionic emission, tunnelling and ionisation)

calculate the temperature dependence of the ionisation of dopant states and charge carrier concentrations

distinguish the relevant electron-hole recombination processes and the role of majority and minority charge carrier for these processes

quantitatively describe the experimental determination of the charge carrier concentrations and transport properties of semiconductors (e.g. Hall resistance and Haynes-Shockley experiment)

describe the impact of defects on these properties

explain the main techniques for the fabrication of semiconducting materials and their limitations

understand the physics of p-n junctions (charge densities, potential distribution, charge carrier transport processes) and their relevance for their application in electronic devices

correlate the theoretical description of p-n junctions with experimental techniques to determine their physical properties

distinguish the main building blocks for the semiconductor based devices discussed in this course

describe the underlying principles of microelectronic, optoelectronic and detector devices.

These skills are greatly important for students who plan to work either theoretically or experimentally on microelectronics based techniques in the future.

Module content


Physics of Semiconductors

o Lattice properties (elastic properties, phonon dispersion)

o Electronic band structure and densities of states in semiconductors

o Fundamental electronic transport properties of semiconductors

o Interaction of semiconductors with radiation

o Structural defects (point, line, planar and volume defects) and their impact on the transport properties

Characterization of semiconductors

o Electronic properties: Four probe measurements, I-V characterisation

o Structural and chemical characterisation: X-ray diffraction and spectroscopy, electron microscopy


o Microelectronic devices (bipolar transistors and MOSFETs)

o Detectors (CCDs, X-ray detectors)

o Solar cells

o Optoelectronic devices (diodes, lasers)


Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Physics & Applications of Semiconductor Devices
8 hours 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Physics & Applications of Semiconductor Devices
8 hours 100

Module feedback

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Department Handbook.

Indicative reading

Simon. M. Sze: "Semiconductor Devices: Physics and Technology", Wiley

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.