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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Semiconductor Physics I
Module Code PS305
School School of Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Robert O'Connor
Semester 2: Robert O'Connor
Autumn: Robert O'Connor
Module TeachersRobert O'Connor
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat examination

This module introduces the student to the basics physics of semiconductor devices as well to key semiconductor based devices such as diodes, transistors, and optoelectronic devices. The latter part of the course gives the students an overview of semiconductor processing which is based on current, state-of-the-art manufacturing processes. Introducing modern semiconductor fabrication processing techniques will benefit students who either pursue postgraduate education in this area, or who obtain employment in the sector. The module is largely knowledge-based.

Learning Outcomes

1. Describe and explain the main elements of semiconductor physics including a qualitative description of semiconductor bands.
2. Identify and discuss the key features of pn junctions
3. derive the diode equation and other key equations relating to semiconductor physics
4. Indicate the operation of key devices such as tunnel diodes, rectifiers, bipolar and FET transistors
5. Describe the main semiconductor processing steps which lead to the fabrication of integrated circuits

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Tutorial6Problem-solving session
Independent Study95Background reading and studying
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Learning activities and teaching methodologies
The teaching methodology used is via the traditional lecture mode but with interactive tutorials and quiz sessions. The interactive tutorials cover concepts such as carrier concentration, density of states, and the Hall effect, diffusion, and diode current calculations From the students' point of view, their learning activities will be mainly centred around studying the concepts and relating these to numerical problem solving, and ultimately to the device physics which underpins modern CMOS processes. The quiz sessions will also be a useful learning activity. A strong focus is placed on links to previous modules. All activities and learning objectives are assessed by the final examination. There is also a continuous assessment element based on modern semiconductor manufacturing techniques with a focus on strong scientific writing skills.

Lecture Series: Basic Semiconductor Physics
Conduction in metals and semiconductors, energy bands, electrons and holes, density of startes. Doping effects on semiconductors n- and p- doping, Hall effect, carrier drift, temperature dependence of semiconductor behaviour

Lecture Series: Diffusion of Carriers
Introduction to diffusion, recombination, drift and diffusion currents, Einstein relation, semiconductor continuity equation, Haynes-Shockley experiment

Lecture Series: PN Junctions
Junction in equilibrium, biased pn junctions, Diode IV characteristics, derivation of full pn junction equation, Zener diodes, Junction capacitance, metal-semiconductor junctions

Lecture Series: Applications of Diodes
Rectification, switching diodes and breakdown diodes, tunnel diodes, photodiodes, LEDs, solar cells, and semiconductor lasers.

Lecture Series: Transistors
Bipolar transistors, Junction field effect transistors, Metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors

Lecture Series: Semiconductor Processing
Introduction to the industry, wafer manufacture and deposition, lithography, diffusion and ion implantation, dielectrics, oxide growth, test and packaging, MOS process flow, device reliability, recent advances in manufacturing.

Tutorial Series
Students work on 4 tutorial problem sets throughout the semester, in which all of the key concepts of the module are covered. One tutorial is based on basic solid state physics and band structure, one on diffusion and the Einstein relation, one on pn junctions, and the final problem set covers the entire course and is intended as an aid to revision.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment20% Examination Weight80%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Written ExamIn class test10%n/a
Research PaperStudents choose from a list of topics in semiconductor processing and write a research style paper on the subject.10%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 3
Indicative Reading List

  • Ben G. Streetman: 0, Solid State Electronic Devices, 6th, Prentice Hall,
  • J. Wilson and J. Hawkes: 0, Optoelelectronics: An Introduction, Prentice Hall,
  • A. Barlev: 0, Semiconductors and Electronic Devices, Prentice Hall,
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Date of Last Revision11-NOV-02

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