Transistor Operation and Modeling

Authored by: Tina Hudson

The Industrial Electronics Handbook

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781439802793
eBook ISBN: 9781439802809
Adobe ISBN:


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Transistors are the fundamental building blocks of microelectronic circuits. They are used in both analog and digital circuits. In digital circuits, they can be thought of as voltage-gated switches. In analog circuits, they can be thought of as transconductance (voltage-to-current) amplifiers. There are many different types of transistors, determined by the material it has been made from, the underlying physics of operation, and the primary carrier creating current in the device. However, they can all be used in the same types of circuits. The most commonly used transistors are made out of silicon: the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) and the bipolar-junction transistor (BJT). Field-effect transistor (FET) operation is based upon an input generating an electromagnetic field to turn the device on and off. A junction transistor is controlled by turning a p–n junction diode within the device on and off. Both types of transistors have two subtypes determined by the dominant current carrier, holes (p-type), or electrons (n-type), resulting in four transistor types: MOSFETs (nFET and pFET) and BJTs (the npn and the pnp).

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