nanoHUB-U: Nanoscale Transistors

A free five-week course on the essential physics of nanoscale transistors.


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A free five-week course on the essential physics of nanoscale transistors

MARK LUNDSTROM is the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He is known for his research on the limits of transistors and for his simple, conceptual model for the nano-MOSFET. His book — Fundamentals of Carrier Transport (Cambridge, 2000) — is a standard reference in the field. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received several awards in recognition of his research and teaching. Prof. Lundstrom is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

Professor Mark Lundstrom has developed a five-week course on the essential physics of nanoscale transistors. Nanoscale Transistors develops a unified framework for understanding essential physics of nanoscale transistors, their important applications, and trends and directions.

The course material of Nanoscale Transistors is available as a self-paced class taken online.

Scientific Overview Video

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Course Objectives

The transistor is the key enabler of modern electronics. Progress in transistor scaling has pushed channel lengths to the nanometer regime where traditional approaches to device physics are less suitable. This short course describes a way of understanding MOSFETs that is much more suitable than traditional approaches when the channel lengths are of nanoscale dimensions. Surprisingly, the final result looks much like the traditional, textbook, MOSFET model, but the parameters in the equations have simple, clear interpretations at the nanoscale. My objective for this course is to provide students with an understanding of the essential physics of nanoscale transistors as well as some of the practical technological considerations and fundamental limits. The goal is to do this in a way that is broadly accessible to students with only a very basic knowledge of semiconductor physics and electronic circuits.

Who Should Take the Course

Anyone seeking a sound, physical, but simple understanding of how nanoscale transistors operate. The transistor is the enabler for modern electronics, so a basic understanding of its operating principles is essential for anyone working in the field of electronic materials, device or circuits and systems. Modern transistors have critical dimensions that are measured in nanometers – making them the first and most successful nanoelectronic device. The course should be useful for advanced undergraduates, beginning graduate students, as well as researchers and practicing engineers and scientists. The goal is to provide a simple, accessible, but sound introduction to the fundamentals of nanoscale transistors.


This course is intended to be broadly accessible to those with a background in the physical sciences or engineering. No familiarity with electronics or transistors is assumed, but those with such a background will gain an understanding of how nanoscale transistors differ from their micrometer scale cousins. A basic familiarity with topics usually covered in a two-semester college course in introductory physics is assumed. Selected topics from upper division undergraduate courses in electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics will be reviewed when required. A working knowledge of both integral and differential calculus is assumed. A basic understanding of electronic circuit concepts such as Ohm’s Law, Kirchoff’s Law, etc., will be helpful. An introductory level understanding of basic semiconductor physics will also be helpful. This topic will be briefly reviewed at the beginning of the course, and pointers to web-based lectures that cover background topics will be provided.

Course Outline

Preview the lectures below, or join the course by clicking the yellow button on the right and entering your nanoHUB login information!

Week 1 – The Transistor: controlling current by modulating a barrier

  • L1.1: The Transistor – The Transistor as a Black Box
  • L1.2: The Transistor – Review of Semiconductors I
  • L1.3: The Transistor – Review of Semiconductors II
  • L1.4: The Transistor – The MOSFET: A barrier-controlled device
  • L1.5: The Transistor – MOSFET IV: Traditional Approach
  • L1.6: The Transistor – MOSFET IV: The Virtual Source Model

Week 2 – MOS Electrostatics

  • L2.1: MOS Electrostatics – Poisson Equation and the Depletion Approximation
  • L2.2: MOS Electrostatics – The Gate Voltage
  • L2.3: MOS Electrostatics – Bulk MOS: subthreshold/above threshold
  • L2.4: MOS Electrostatics – ETSOI MOS: subthreshold/above threshold
  • L2.5: MOS Electrostatics – 2D MOS Electrostatics
  • L2.6: MOS Electrostatics – The VS Model Again

Week 3 – The Ballistic Nanotransistor

  • L3.1: The Ballistic Nanotransistor – The Landauer Approach to Carrier Transport
  • L3.2: The Ballistic Nanotransistor – Modes
  • L3.3: The Ballistic Nanotransistor – The Ballistic MOSFET
  • L3.4: The Ballistic Nanotransistor – Ballistic Injection Velocity
  • L3.5: The Ballistic Nanotransistor – Connection to VS Model
  • L3.6: The Ballistic Nanotransistor – Comparison to Experimental Results

Week 4 – The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor

  • L4.1: The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor – Carrier Scattering in Semiconductors
  • L4.2: The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor – Transmission and Mean-free-path
  • L4.3: The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor – The Quasi-Ballistic MOSFET
  • L4.4: The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor – Mobility and Drain Current
  • L4.5: The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor – Connection to the VS Model
  • L4.6: The Quasi-Ballistic Nanotransistor – Comparison to Experiment

Week 5 – A Quick Look at: Ultimate Limits, Other Transistors, and Circuits

  • L5.1: The Ultimate MOSFET and Beyond – Fundamental Limits
  • L5.2: The Ultimate MOSFET and Beyond – Heterostructure FETs
  • L5.3: The Ultimate MOSFET and Beyond – Heterostructure BJTs
  • L5.4: The Ultimate MOSFET and Beyond – The CMOS Inverter
  • L5.5: The Ultimate MOSFET and Beyond – CMOS Logic Performance
  • L5.6: The Ultimate MOSFET and Beyond – Analog/RF CMOS

Course Resources

  • A account is required to perform the simulation exercises. Sign up for free now!
  • Prerecorded video lectures distilling the essential concepts of nanoscale transistors into a concise, five-week module.
  • Homework exercises with solutions and homework tutorials.
  • Online quizzes to quickly assess understanding of material after each video lecture.
  • An online forum, hosted by nanoHUB. Students enrolled in the course will be able to interact with one another.
  • Practice exams for each weekly module. Solutions are also posted.


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This self-paced course is available at no cost.

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