nanoHUB-U: Fundamentals of Nanotransistors, 2nd Edition

Nanotransistors is the latest self-paced nanoHUB-U offering by Professor Mark Lundstrom. This updated course features new video lectures as well as revised quizzes and exams. In addition, Professor Lundstrom has provided background resources on the essential physics of nanoscale transistors.


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A self-paced course on the essential physics of nanoscale transistors. 

This course develops a unified framework for understanding essential physics of nanoscale transistors, their important applications, and trends and directions.


Short Description

Scientific Overview

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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. The 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

Unit 1 – Transistor Fundamentals

L1.1: Course Introduction
L1.2: The MOSFET as a Black Box
L1.3: MOSFET Device Metrics
L1.4: Transistors to Circuits
L1.5: Energy Band View of Transistors
L1.6: Traditional IV Theory
L1.7: The "Virtual Source Model"
L1.8: Summary

Unit 2 – MOS Electrostatics

L2.1: Introduction
L2.2: Depletion Approximation
L2.3: Gate Voltage and Surface Potential
L2.4: Flatband Voltage
L2.5: Mobile Charge: Bulk MOS
L2.6: Mobile Charge: ETSOI
L2.7: 2D Electrostatics
L2.8: The VS Model Revisited
L2.9: Summary

Unit 3 – The Ballistic Nanotransistor

L3.1: Introduction
L3.2: Landauer Approach
L3.3: More on Landauer
L3.4: The Ballistic MOSFET
L3.5: The Velocity at the VS
L3.6: Revisiting the VS Model
L3.7: Summary

Unit 4 – The Transmission Theory of the MOSFET

L4.1: Introduction
L4.2: Transmission
L4.3: MFP and Diffusion Coefficient
L4.4: Transmission Theory of the MOSFET I
L4.5: Transmission Theory of the MOSFET II
L4.6: Connection to the VS Model
L4.7: VS Analysis of the Experiments
L4.8: Limits and Limitations
L4.9: Course Summary


Course Resources

  • A free account is required to access some course components.
  • Homework exercises with solutions.
  • Online quizzes to quickly assess understanding of material after most video lectures.
  • An online forum, hosted by nanoHUB. Students enrolled in the course will be able to interact with one another.
  • Practice exams for each module.


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This self-paced course is available at no cost.

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