Transistor

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Assorted discrete transistors. Packages in order from top to bottom: TO-3, TO-126, TO-92, SOT-23. Transistorer (croped).jpg
Assorted discrete transistors. Packages in order from top to bottom: TO-3, TO-126, TO-92, SOT-23.

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

Semiconductor devices are electronic components that exploit the electronic properties of semiconductor material, principally silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide, as well as organic semiconductors. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices in most applications. They use electronic conduction in the solid state as opposed to the gaseous state or thermionic emission in a high vacuum.

In electrical engineering, a switch is an electrical component that can "make" or "break" an electrical circuit, interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another. The mechanism of a switch removes or restores the conducting path in a circuit when it is operated. It may be operated manually, for example, a light switch or a keyboard button, may be operated by a moving object such as a door, or may be operated by some sensing element for pressure, temperature or flow. A switch will have one or more sets of contacts, which may operate simultaneously, sequentially, or alternately. Switches in high-powered circuits must operate rapidly to prevent destructive arcing, and may include special features to assist in rapidly interrupting a heavy current. Multiple forms of actuators are used for operation by hand or to sense position, level, temperature or flow. Special types are used, for example, for control of machinery, to reverse electric motors, or to sense liquid level. Many specialized forms exist. A common use is control of lighting, where multiple switches may be wired into one circuit to allow convenient control of light fixtures.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. The identification of the electron in 1897, along with the invention of the vacuum tube, which could amplify and rectify small electrical signals, inaugurated the field of electronics and the electron age.

Contents

The transistor is the fundamental building block of modern electronic devices, and is ubiquitous in modern electronic systems. Julius Edgar Lilienfeld patented a field-effect transistor in 1926 [1] but it was not possible to actually construct a working device at that time. The first practically implemented device was a point-contact transistor invented in 1947 by American physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley. The transistor revolutionized the field of electronics, and paved the way for smaller and cheaper radios, calculators, and computers, among other things. The transistor is on the list of IEEE milestones in electronics, [2] and Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley shared the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for their achievement. [3]

Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Austro-Hungarian physicist

Julius Edgar Lilienfeld was a Jewish American physicist and electronic engineer, credited with the first patents on the field-effect transistor (FET) (1925) and electrolytic capacitor (1931). Because of his failure to publish articles in learned journals and because high-purity semiconductor materials were not available yet, his FET patent never achieved fame, causing confusion for later inventors.

The field-effect transistor (FET) is an electronic device which uses an electric field to control the flow of current. This is achieved by the application of a voltage to the gate terminal, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source terminals.

Point-contact transistor first type of solid-state electronic transistor ever constructed

The point-contact transistor was the first type of transistor to be successfully demonstrated. It was developed by research scientists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain at Bell Laboratories in December 1947. They worked in a group led by physicist William Shockley. The group had been working together on experiments and theories of electric field effects in solid state materials, with the aim of replacing vacuum tubes with a smaller device that consumed less power.

Most transistors are made from very pure silicon or germanium, but certain other semiconductor materials can also be used. A transistor may have only one kind of charge carrier, in a field effect transistor, or may have two kinds of charge carriers in bipolar junction transistor devices. Compared with the vacuum tube, transistors are generally smaller, and require less power to operate. Certain vacuum tubes have advantages over transistors at very high operating frequencies or high operating voltages. Many types of transistors are made to standardized specifications by multiple manufacturers.

Silicon Chemical element with atomic number 14

Silicon is a chemical element with symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1414 °C and 3265 °C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron. Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth's crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.

Germanium Chemical element with atomic number 32

Germanium is a chemical element with symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbours silicon and tin. Pure germanium is a semiconductor with an appearance similar to elemental silicon. Like silicon, germanium naturally reacts and forms complexes with oxygen in nature.

Bipolar junction transistor transistor that uses both electron and hole charge carriers.In contrast,unipolar transistors such as field-effect transistors,only use one kind of charge carrier.For their operation,BJTs use 2 junctions between 2 semiconductor types,n-type and p-type

A bipolar junction transistor is a type of transistor that uses both electron and hole charge carriers. In contrast, unipolar transistors, such as field-effect transistors, only use one kind of charge carrier. For their operation, BJTs use two junctions between two semiconductor types, n-type and p-type.

History

A replica of the first working transistor. Replica-of-first-transistor.jpg
A replica of the first working transistor.

The thermionic triode, a vacuum tube invented in 1907, enabled amplified radio technology and long-distance telephony. The triode, however, was a fragile device that consumed a substantial amount of power. In 1909 physicist William Eccles discovered the crystal diode oscillator. [4] physicist Julius Edgar Lilienfeld filed a patent for a field-effect transistor (FET) in Canada in 1925 [5] , which was intended to be a solid-state replacement for the triode. [6] [7] Lilienfeld also filed identical patents in the United States in 1926 [8] and 1928. [9] [10] However, Lilienfeld did not publish any research articles about his devices nor did his patents cite any specific examples of a working prototype. Because the production of high-quality semiconductor materials was still decades away, Lilienfeld's solid-state amplifier ideas would not have found practical use in the 1920s and 1930s, even if such a device had been built. [11] In 1934, German inventor Oskar Heil patented a similar device in Europe. [12]

Triode electronic device having three active electrodes; the term most commonly applies to a single-grid amplifying vacuum tube

A triode is an electronic amplifying vacuum tube consisting of three electrodes inside an evacuated glass envelope: a heated filament or cathode, a grid, and a plate (anode). Developed from Lee De Forest's 1906 Audion, a partial vacuum tube that added a grid electrode to the thermionic diode, the triode was the first practical electronic amplifier and the ancestor of other types of vacuum tubes such as the tetrode and pentode. Its invention founded the electronics age, making possible amplified radio technology and long-distance telephony. Triodes were widely used in consumer electronics devices such as radios and televisions until the 1970s, when transistors replaced them. Today, their main remaining use is in high-power RF amplifiers in radio transmitters and industrial RF heating devices. In recent years there has been a resurgence in demand for low power triodes due to renewed interest in tube-type audio systems by audiophiles who prefer the sound of tube-based electronics.

Vacuum tube Device that controls electric current between electrodes in an evacuated container

In electronics, a vacuum tube, an electron tube, or valve or, colloquially, a tube, is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes to which an electric potential difference has been applied.

Radio technology of using radio waves to carry information

Radio is the technology of using radio waves to carry information, such as sound and images, by systematically modulating properties of electromagnetic energy waves transmitted through space, such as their amplitude, frequency, phase, or pulse width. When radio waves strike an electrical conductor, the oscillating fields induce an alternating current in the conductor. The information in the waves can be extracted and transformed back into its original form.

John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs, 1948. Bardeen Shockley Brattain 1948.JPG
John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs, 1948.

From November 17, 1947, to December 23, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain at AT&T's Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey of the United States performed experiments and observed that when two gold point contacts were applied to a crystal of germanium, a signal was produced with the output power greater than the input. [13] Solid State Physics Group leader William Shockley saw the potential in this, and over the next few months worked to greatly expand the knowledge of semiconductors. The term transistor was coined by John R. Pierce as a contraction of the term transresistance . [14] [15] [16] According to Lillian Hoddeson and Vicki Daitch, authors of a biography of John Bardeen, Shockley had proposed that Bell Labs' first patent for a transistor should be based on the field-effect and that he be named as the inventor. Having unearthed Lilienfeld’s patents that went into obscurity years earlier, lawyers at Bell Labs advised against Shockley's proposal because the idea of a field-effect transistor that used an electric field as a "grid" was not new. Instead, what Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley invented in 1947 was the first point-contact transistor. [11] In acknowledgement of this accomplishment, Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain were jointly awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics "for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect". [17] [18]

John Bardeen American physicist and engineer

John Bardeen was an American physicist and electrical engineer. He is the only person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice: first in 1956 with William Shockley and Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor; and again in 1972 with Leon N Cooper and John Robert Schrieffer for a fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS theory.

AT&T Corporation Subsidiary of AT&T that provides voice, video, data, and Internet telecommunications

.

Bell Labs research and scientific development company

Nokia Bell Labs is an industrial research and scientific development company owned by Finnish company Nokia. Its headquarters are located in Murray Hill, New Jersey. Other laboratories are located around the world. Bell Labs has its origins in the complex past of the Bell System.

Herbert F. Matare (1950) Herbert F. Matare 1950.png
Herbert F. Mataré (1950)

In 1948, the point-contact transistor was independently invented by German physicists Herbert Mataré and Heinrich Welker while working at the Compagnie des Freins et Signaux, a Westinghouse subsidiary located in Paris. Mataré had previous experience in developing crystal rectifiers from silicon and germanium in the German radar effort during World War II. Using this knowledge, he began researching the phenomenon of "interference" in 1947. By June 1948, witnessing currents flowing through point-contacts, Mataré produced consistent results using samples of germanium produced by Welker, similar to what Bardeen and Brattain had accomplished earlier in December 1947. Realizing that Bell Labs' scientists had already invented the transistor before them, the company rushed to get its "transistron" into production for amplified use in France's telephone network. [19]

Herbert Mataré German physicist

Herbert Franz Mataré was a German physicist. The focus of his research was the field of semiconductor research. His best-known work is the first functional "European" transistor, which he developed and patented together with Heinrich Welker in the vicinity of Paris in 1948, at the same time and independently from the Bell Labs engineers. The final 20 years of his life Mataré split time between his homes in Hückelhoven, Germany and Malibu, California. Born in Aachen, he was the nephew of the sculptor Ewald Mataré (1887–1965) and father of architect Vitus Mataré (1955.)

Heinrich Johann Welker was a German theoretical and applied physicist who invented the "transistron", a transistor made at Westinghouse independently of the first successful transistor made at Bell Laboratories. He did fundamental work in III-V compound semiconductors, and paved the way for microwave semiconductor elements and laser diodes.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

The first bipolar junction transistors were invented by Bell Labs' William Shockley, which applied for patent (2,569,347) on June 26, 1948. On April 12, 1950, Bell Labs chemists Gordon Teal and Morgan Sparks had successfully produced a working bipolar NPN junction amplifying germanium transistor. Bell Labs had announced the discovery of this new "sandwich" transistor in a press release on July 4, 1951. [20] [21]

Philco surface-barrier transistor developed and produced in 1953 Philco Surface Barrier transistor=1953.jpg
Philco surface-barrier transistor developed and produced in 1953

The first high-frequency transistor was the surface-barrier germanium transistor developed by Philco in 1953, capable of operating up to 60 MHz. [22] These were made by etching depressions into an N-type germanium base from both sides with jets of Indium(III) sulfate until it was a few ten-thousandths of an inch thick. Indium electroplated into the depressions formed the collector and emitter. [23] [24]

The first "prototype" pocket transistor radio was shown by INTERMETALL (a company founded by Herbert Mataré in 1952) at the Internationale Funkausstellung Düsseldorf between August 29, 1953 and September 9, 1953. [25]

The first "production" pocket transistor radio was the Regency TR-1, released in October 1954. [18] Produced as a joint venture between the Regency Division of Industrial Development Engineering Associates, I.D.E.A. and Texas Instruments of Dallas Texas, the TR-1 was manufactured in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a near pocket-sized radio featuring 4 transistors and one germanium diode. The industrial design was outsourced to the Chicago firm of Painter, Teague and Petertil. It was initially released in one of four different colours: black, bone white, red, and gray. Other colours were to shortly follow. [26] [27] [28]

The first "production" all-transistor car radio was developed by Chrysler and Philco corporations and it was announced in the April 28th 1955 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Chrysler had made the all-transistor car radio, Mopar model 914HR, available as an option starting in fall 1955 for its new line of 1956 Chrysler and Imperial cars which first hit the dealership showroom floors on October 21, 1955. [29] [30] [31]

The first working silicon transistor was developed at Bell Labs on January 26, 1954 by Morris Tanenbaum. The first commercial silicon transistor was produced by Texas Instruments in 1954. This was the work of Gordon Teal, an expert in growing crystals of high purity, who had previously worked at Bell Labs. [32] [33] [34] The first MOSFET actually built was by Kahng and Atalla at Bell Labs in 1960. [35]

Importance

A Darlington transistor opened up so the actual transistor chip (the small square) can be seen inside. A Darlington transistor is effectively two transistors on the same chip. One transistor is much larger than the other, but both are large in comparison to transistors in large-scale integration because this particular example is intended for power applications. Darlington transistor MJ1000.jpg
A Darlington transistor opened up so the actual transistor chip (the small square) can be seen inside. A Darlington transistor is effectively two transistors on the same chip. One transistor is much larger than the other, but both are large in comparison to transistors in large-scale integration because this particular example is intended for power applications.

The transistor is the key active component in practically all modern electronics. Many consider it to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. [36] Its importance in today's society rests on its ability to be mass-produced using a highly automated process (semiconductor device fabrication) that achieves astonishingly low per-transistor costs. The invention of the first transistor at Bell Labs was named an IEEE Milestone in 2009. [37]

Although several companies each produce over a billion individually packaged (known as discrete ) transistors every year, [38] the vast majority of transistors are now produced in integrated circuits (often shortened to IC, microchips or simply chips), along with diodes, resistors, capacitors and other electronic components, to produce complete electronic circuits. A logic gate consists of up to about twenty transistors whereas an advanced microprocessor, as of 2009, can use as many as 3 billion transistors (MOSFETs). [39] "About 60 million transistors were built in 2002… for [each] man, woman, and child on Earth." [40]

The transistor's low cost, flexibility, and reliability have made it a ubiquitous device. Transistorized mechatronic circuits have replaced electromechanical devices in controlling appliances and machinery. It is often easier and cheaper to use a standard microcontroller and write a computer program to carry out a control function than to design an equivalent mechanical system to control that same function.

Simplified operation

A simple circuit diagram to show the labels of a n-p-n bipolar transistor. Transistor Simple Circuit Diagram with NPN Labels.svg
A simple circuit diagram to show the labels of a n–p–n bipolar transistor.

The essential usefulness of a transistor comes from its ability to use a small signal applied between one pair of its terminals to control a much larger signal at another pair of terminals. This property is called gain. It can produce a stronger output signal, a voltage or current, which is proportional to a weaker input signal; that is, it can act as an amplifier. Alternatively, the transistor can be used to turn current on or off in a circuit as an electrically controlled switch, where the amount of current is determined by other circuit elements.

There are two types of transistors, which have slight differences in how they are used in a circuit. A bipolar transistor has terminals labeled base, collector, and emitter. A small current at the base terminal (that is, flowing between the base and the emitter) can control or switch a much larger current between the collector and emitter terminals. For a field-effect transistor , the terminals are labeled gate, source, and drain, and a voltage at the gate can control a current between source and drain.

The image represents a typical bipolar transistor in a circuit. Charge will flow between emitter and collector terminals depending on the current in the base. Because internally the base and emitter connections behave like a semiconductor diode, a voltage drop develops between base and emitter while the base current exists. The amount of this voltage depends on the material the transistor is made from, and is referred to as VBE.

Transistor as a switch

BJT used as an electronic switch, in grounded-emitter configuration. Transistor as switch.svg
BJT used as an electronic switch, in grounded-emitter configuration.

Transistors are commonly used in digital circuits as electronic switches which can be either in an "on" or "off" state, both for high-power applications such as switched-mode power supplies and for low-power applications such as logic gates. Important parameters for this application include the current switched, the voltage handled, and the switching speed, characterised by the rise and fall times.

In a grounded-emitter transistor circuit, such as the light-switch circuit shown, as the base voltage rises, the emitter and collector currents rise exponentially. The collector voltage drops because of reduced resistance from collector to emitter. If the voltage difference between the collector and emitter were zero (or near zero), the collector current would be limited only by the load resistance (light bulb) and the supply voltage. This is called saturation because current is flowing from collector to emitter freely. When saturated, the switch is said to be on. [41]

Providing sufficient base drive current is a key problem in the use of bipolar transistors as switches. The transistor provides current gain, allowing a relatively large current in the collector to be switched by a much smaller current into the base terminal. The ratio of these currents varies depending on the type of transistor, and even for a particular type, varies depending on the collector current. In the example light-switch circuit shown, the resistor is chosen to provide enough base current to ensure the transistor will be saturated.

In a switching circuit, the idea is to simulate, as near as possible, the ideal switch having the properties of open circuit when off, short circuit when on, and an instantaneous transition between the two states. Parameters are chosen such that the "off" output is limited to leakage currents too small to affect connected circuitry; the resistance of the transistor in the "on" state is too small to affect circuitry; and the transition between the two states is fast enough not to have a detrimental effect.

Transistor as an amplifier

Amplifier circuit, common-emitter configuration with a voltage-divider bias circuit. NPN common emitter AC.svg
Amplifier circuit, common-emitter configuration with a voltage-divider bias circuit.

The common-emitter amplifier is designed so that a small change in voltage (Vin) changes the small current through the base of the transistor; the transistor's current amplification combined with the properties of the circuit means that small swings in Vin produce large changes in Vout.

Various configurations of single transistor amplifier are possible, with some providing current gain, some voltage gain, and some both.

From mobile phones to televisions, vast numbers of products include amplifiers for sound reproduction, radio transmission, and signal processing. The first discrete-transistor audio amplifiers barely supplied a few hundred milliwatts, but power and audio fidelity gradually increased as better transistors became available and amplifier architecture evolved.

Modern transistor audio amplifiers of up to a few hundred watts are common and relatively inexpensive.

Comparison with vacuum tubes

Before transistors were developed, vacuum (electron) tubes (or in the UK "thermionic valves" or just "valves") were the main active components in electronic equipment.

Advantages

The key advantages that have allowed transistors to replace vacuum tubes in most applications are

Limitations

Transistors have the following limitations:

Types

BJT PNP symbol.svg PNP JFET P-Channel Labelled.svg P-channel
BJT NPN symbol.svg NPN JFET N-Channel Labelled.svg N-channel
BJTJFET
BJT and JFET symbols
JFET P-Channel Labelled.svg IGFET P-Ch Enh Labelled.svg IGFET P-Ch Enh Labelled simplified.svg IGFET P-Ch Dep Labelled.svg P-channel
JFET N-Channel Labelled.svg IGFET N-Ch Enh Labelled.svg IGFET N-Ch Enh Labelled simplified.svg IGFET N-Ch Dep Labelled.svg N-channel
JFETMOSFET enhMOSFET dep
JFET and MOSFET symbols

Transistors are categorized by

Hence, a particular transistor may be described as silicon, surface-mount, BJT, n–p–n, low-power, high-frequency switch.

A popular way to remember which symbol represents which type of transistor is to look at the arrow and how it is arranged. Within an NPN transistor symbol, the arrow will Not Point iN. Conversely, within the PNP symbol you see that the arrow Points iN Proudly.

Bipolar junction transistor (BJT)

Bipolar transistors are so named because they conduct by using both majority and minority carriers. The bipolar junction transistor, the first type of transistor to be mass-produced, is a combination of two junction diodes, and is formed of either a thin layer of p-type semiconductor sandwiched between two n-type semiconductors (an n–p–n transistor), or a thin layer of n-type semiconductor sandwiched between two p-type semiconductors (a p–n–p transistor). This construction produces two p–n junctions: a base–emitter junction and a base–collector junction, separated by a thin region of semiconductor known as the base region (two junction diodes wired together without sharing an intervening semiconducting region will not make a transistor).

BJTs have three terminals, corresponding to the three layers of semiconductor—an emitter, a base, and a collector. They are useful in amplifiers because the currents at the emitter and collector are controllable by a relatively small base current. [44] In an n–p–n transistor operating in the active region, the emitter–base junction is forward biased (electrons and holes recombine at the junction), and the base-collector junction is reverse biased (electrons and holes are formed at, and move away from the junction), and electrons are injected into the base region. Because the base is narrow, most of these electrons will diffuse into the reverse-biased base–collector junction and be swept into the collector; perhaps one-hundredth of the electrons will recombine in the base, which is the dominant mechanism in the base current. As well, as the base is lightly doped (in comparison to the emitter and collector regions), recombination rates are low, permitting more carriers to diffuse across the base region. By controlling the number of electrons that can leave the base, the number of electrons entering the collector can be controlled. [44] Collector current is approximately β (common-emitter current gain) times the base current. It is typically greater than 100 for small-signal transistors but can be smaller in transistors designed for high-power applications.

Unlike the field-effect transistor (see below), the BJT is a low-input-impedance device. Also, as the base–emitter voltage (VBE) is increased the base–emitter current and hence the collector–emitter current (ICE) increase exponentially according to the Shockley diode model and the Ebers-Moll model. Because of this exponential relationship, the BJT has a higher transconductance than the FET.

Bipolar transistors can be made to conduct by exposure to light, because absorption of photons in the base region generates a photocurrent that acts as a base current; the collector current is approximately β times the photocurrent. Devices designed for this purpose have a transparent window in the package and are called phototransistors.

Field-effect transistor (FET)

Operation of a FET and its Id-Vg curve. At first, when no gate voltage is applied. There is no inversion electron in the channel, the device is OFF. As gate voltage increase, inversion electron density in the channel increase, current increase, the device turns on. Threshold formation nowatermark.gif
Operation of a FET and its Id-Vg curve. At first, when no gate voltage is applied. There is no inversion electron in the channel, the device is OFF. As gate voltage increase, inversion electron density in the channel increase, current increase, the device turns on.

The field-effect transistor , sometimes called a unipolar transistor, uses either electrons (in n-channel FET) or holes (in p-channel FET) for conduction. The four terminals of the FET are named source, gate, drain, and body (substrate). On most FETs, the body is connected to the source inside the package, and this will be assumed for the following description.

In a FET, the drain-to-source current flows via a conducting channel that connects the source region to the drain region. The conductivity is varied by the electric field that is produced when a voltage is applied between the gate and source terminals; hence the current flowing between the drain and source is controlled by the voltage applied between the gate and source. As the gate–source voltage (VGS) is increased, the drain–source current (IDS) increases exponentially for VGS below threshold, and then at a roughly quadratic rate (IDS ∝ (VGSVT)2) (where VT is the threshold voltage at which drain current begins) [45] in the "space-charge-limited" region above threshold. A quadratic behavior is not observed in modern devices, for example, at the 65 nm technology node. [46]

For low noise at narrow bandwidth the higher input resistance of the FET is advantageous.

FETs are divided into two families: junction FET (JFET) and insulated gate FET (IGFET). The IGFET is more commonly known as a metal–oxide–semiconductor FET (MOSFET), reflecting its original construction from layers of metal (the gate), oxide (the insulation), and semiconductor. Unlike IGFETs, the JFET gate forms a p–n diode with the channel which lies between the source and drain. Functionally, this makes the n-channel JFET the solid-state equivalent of the vacuum tube triode which, similarly, forms a diode between its grid and cathode. Also, both devices operate in the depletion mode, they both have a high input impedance, and they both conduct current under the control of an input voltage.

Metal–semiconductor FETs (MESFETs) are JFETs in which the reverse biased p–n junction is replaced by a metal–semiconductor junction. These, and the HEMTs (high-electron-mobility transistors, or HFETs), in which a two-dimensional electron gas with very high carrier mobility is used for charge transport, are especially suitable for use at very high frequencies (microwave frequencies; several GHz).

FETs are further divided into depletion-mode and enhancement-mode types, depending on whether the channel is turned on or off with zero gate-to-source voltage. For enhancement mode, the channel is off at zero bias, and a gate potential can "enhance" the conduction. For the depletion mode, the channel is on at zero bias, and a gate potential (of the opposite polarity) can "deplete" the channel, reducing conduction. For either mode, a more positive gate voltage corresponds to a higher current for n-channel devices and a lower current for p-channel devices. Nearly all JFETs are depletion-mode because the diode junctions would forward bias and conduct if they were enhancement-mode devices; most IGFETs are enhancement-mode types.

Usage of bipolar and field-effect transistors

The bipolar junction transistor (BJT) was the most commonly used transistor in the 1960s and 70s. Even after MOSFETs became widely available, the BJT remained the transistor of choice for many analog circuits such as amplifiers because of their greater linearity and ease of manufacture. In integrated circuits, the desirable properties of MOSFETs allowed them to capture nearly all market share for digital circuits. Discrete MOSFETs can be applied in transistor applications, including analog circuits, voltage regulators, amplifiers, power transmitters and motor drivers.

Other transistor types

Transistor symbol created on Portuguese pavement in the University of Aveiro. Transistor on portuguese pavement.jpg
Transistor symbol created on Portuguese pavement in the University of Aveiro.

Part numbering standards/specifications

The types of some transistors can be parsed from the part number. There are three major semiconductor naming standards; in each the alphanumeric prefix provides clues to type of the device.

Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS)

JIS transistor prefix table
PrefixType of transistor
2SAhigh-frequency p–n–p BJT
2SBaudio-frequency p–n–p BJT
2SChigh-frequency n–p–n BJT
2SDaudio-frequency n–p–n BJT
2SJP-channel FET (both JFET and MOSFET)
2SKN-channel FET (both JFET and MOSFET)

The JIS-C-7012 specification for transistor part numbers starts with "2S", [52] e.g. 2SD965, but sometimes the "2S" prefix is not marked on the package – a 2SD965 might only be marked "D965"; a 2SC1815 might be listed by a supplier as simply "C1815". This series sometimes has suffixes (such as "R", "O", "BL", standing for "red", "orange", "blue", etc.) to denote variants, such as tighter hFE (gain) groupings.

European Electronic Component Manufacturers Association (EECA)

The Pro Electron standard, the European Electronic Component Manufacturers Association part numbering scheme, begins with two letters: the first gives the semiconductor type (A for germanium, B for silicon, and C for materials like GaAs); the second letter denotes the intended use (A for diode, C for general-purpose transistor, etc.). A 3-digit sequence number (or one letter then two digits, for industrial types) follows. With early devices this indicated the case type. Suffixes may be used, with a letter (e.g. "C" often means high hFE, such as in: BC549C [53] ) or other codes may follow to show gain (e.g. BC327-25) or voltage rating (e.g. BUK854-800A [54] ). The more common prefixes are:

Pro Electron / EECA transistor prefix table
Prefix classType and usageExampleEquivalentReference
AC Germanium small-signal AF transistorAC126NTE102A Datasheet
AD Germanium AF power transistorAD133NTE179 Datasheet
AF Germanium small-signal RF transistorAF117NTE160 Datasheet
AL Germanium RF power transistorALZ10NTE100 Datasheet
AS Germanium switching transistorASY28NTE101 Datasheet
AU Germanium power switching transistorAU103NTE127 Datasheet
BCSilicon, small-signal transistor ("general purpose")BC548 2N3904 Datasheet
BDSilicon, power transistorBD139NTE375 Datasheet
BFSilicon, RF (high frequency) BJT or FET BF245NTE133 Datasheet
BSSilicon, switching transistor (BJT or MOSFET) BS170 2N7000 Datasheet
BLSilicon, high frequency, high power (for transmitters)BLW60NTE325 Datasheet
BUSilicon, high voltage (for CRT horizontal deflection circuits)BU2520ANTE2354 Datasheet
CF Gallium arsenide small-signal microwave transistor (MESFET) CF739 Datasheet
CL Gallium arsenide microwave power transistor (FET)CLY10 Datasheet

Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC)

The JEDEC EIA370 transistor device numbers usually start with "2N", indicating a three-terminal device (dual-gate field-effect transistors are four-terminal devices, so begin with 3N), then a 2, 3 or 4-digit sequential number with no significance as to device properties (although early devices with low numbers tend to be germanium). For example, 2N3055 is a silicon n–p–n power transistor, 2N1301 is a p–n–p germanium switching transistor. A letter suffix (such as "A") is sometimes used to indicate a newer variant, but rarely gain groupings.

Proprietary

Manufacturers of devices may have their own proprietary numbering system, for example CK722. Since devices are second-sourced, a manufacturer's prefix (like "MPF" in MPF102, which originally would denote a Motorola FET) now is an unreliable indicator of who made the device. Some proprietary naming schemes adopt parts of other naming schemes, for example a PN2222A is a (possibly Fairchild Semiconductor) 2N2222A in a plastic case (but a PN108 is a plastic version of a BC108, not a 2N108, while the PN100 is unrelated to other xx100 devices).

Military part numbers sometimes are assigned their own codes, such as the British Military CV Naming System.

Manufacturers buying large numbers of similar parts may have them supplied with "house numbers", identifying a particular purchasing specification and not necessarily a device with a standardized registered number. For example, an HP part 1854,0053 is a (JEDEC) 2N2218 transistor [55] [56] which is also assigned the CV number: CV7763 [57]

Naming problems

With so many independent naming schemes, and the abbreviation of part numbers when printed on the devices, ambiguity sometimes occurs. For example, two different devices may be marked "J176" (one the J176 low-power JFET, the other the higher-powered MOSFET 2SJ176).

As older "through-hole" transistors are given surface-mount packaged counterparts, they tend to be assigned many different part numbers because manufacturers have their own systems to cope with the variety in pinout arrangements and options for dual or matched n–p–n + p–n–p devices in one pack. So even when the original device (such as a 2N3904) may have been assigned by a standards authority, and well known by engineers over the years, the new versions are far from standardized in their naming.

Construction

Semiconductor material

Semiconductor material characteristics
Semiconductor
material
Junction forward
voltage
V @ 25 °C
Electron mobility
m2/(V·s) @ 25 °C
Hole mobility
m2/(V·s) @ 25 °C
Max.
junction temp.
°C
Ge0.270.390.1970 to 100
Si0.710.140.05150 to 200
GaAs1.030.850.05150 to 200
Al-Si junction0.3150 to 200

The first BJTs were made from germanium (Ge). Silicon (Si) types currently predominate but certain advanced microwave and high-performance versions now employ the compound semiconductor material gallium arsenide (GaAs) and the semiconductor alloy silicon germanium (SiGe). Single element semiconductor material (Ge and Si) is described as elemental.

Rough parameters for the most common semiconductor materials used to make transistors are given in the adjacent table; these parameters will vary with increase in temperature, electric field, impurity level, strain, and sundry other factors.

The junction forward voltage is the voltage applied to the emitter–base junction of a BJT in order to make the base conduct a specified current. The current increases exponentially as the junction forward voltage is increased. The values given in the table are typical for a current of 1 mA (the same values apply to semiconductor diodes). The lower the junction forward voltage the better, as this means that less power is required to "drive" the transistor. The junction forward voltage for a given current decreases with increase in temperature. For a typical silicon junction the change is −2.1 mV/°C. [58] In some circuits special compensating elements (sensistors) must be used to compensate for such changes.

The density of mobile carriers in the channel of a MOSFET is a function of the electric field forming the channel and of various other phenomena such as the impurity level in the channel. Some impurities, called dopants, are introduced deliberately in making a MOSFET, to control the MOSFET electrical behavior.

The electron mobility and hole mobility columns show the average speed that electrons and holes diffuse through the semiconductor material with an electric field of 1 volt per meter applied across the material. In general, the higher the electron mobility the faster the transistor can operate. The table indicates that Ge is a better material than Si in this respect. However, Ge has four major shortcomings compared to silicon and gallium arsenide:

Because the electron mobility is higher than the hole mobility for all semiconductor materials, a given bipolar n–p–n transistor tends to be swifter than an equivalent p–n–p transistor. GaAs has the highest electron mobility of the three semiconductors. It is for this reason that GaAs is used in high-frequency applications. A relatively recent[ when? ] FET development, the high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT), has a heterostructure (junction between different semiconductor materials) of aluminium gallium arsenide (AlGaAs)-gallium arsenide (GaAs) which has twice the electron mobility of a GaAs-metal barrier junction. Because of their high speed and low noise, HEMTs are used in satellite receivers working at frequencies around 12 GHz. HEMTs based on gallium nitride and aluminium gallium nitride (AlGaN/GaN HEMTs) provide a still higher electron mobility and are being developed for various applications.

Max. junction temperature values represent a cross section taken from various manufacturers' data sheets. This temperature should not be exceeded or the transistor may be damaged.

Al–Si junction refers to the high-speed (aluminum–silicon) metal–semiconductor barrier diode, commonly known as a Schottky diode. This is included in the table because some silicon power IGFETs have a parasitic reverse Schottky diode formed between the source and drain as part of the fabrication process. This diode can be a nuisance, but sometimes it is used in the circuit.

Packaging

Assorted discrete transistors Transbauformen.jpg
Assorted discrete transistors
Soviet KT315b transistors Kt315b.jpg
Soviet KT315b transistors

Discrete transistors can be individually packaged transistors or unpackaged transistor chips (dice).

Transistors come in many different semiconductor packages (see image). The two main categories are through-hole (or leaded), and surface-mount, also known as surface-mount device (SMD). The ball grid array (BGA) is the latest surface-mount package (currently only for large integrated circuits). It has solder "balls" on the underside in place of leads. Because they are smaller and have shorter interconnections, SMDs have better high-frequency characteristics but lower power rating.

Transistor packages are made of glass, metal, ceramic, or plastic. The package often dictates the power rating and frequency characteristics. Power transistors have larger packages that can be clamped to heat sinks for enhanced cooling. Additionally, most power transistors have the collector or drain physically connected to the metal enclosure. At the other extreme, some surface-mount microwave transistors are as small as grains of sand.

Often a given transistor type is available in several packages. Transistor packages are mainly standardized, but the assignment of a transistor's functions to the terminals is not: other transistor types can assign other functions to the package's terminals. Even for the same transistor type the terminal assignment can vary (normally indicated by a suffix letter to the part number, q.e. BC212L and BC212K).

Nowadays most transistors come in a wide range of SMT packages, in comparison the list of available through-hole packages is relatively small, here is a short list of the most common through-hole transistors packages in alphabetical order: ATV, E-line, MRT, HRT, SC-43, SC-72, TO-3, TO-18, TO-39, TO-92, TO-126, TO220, TO247, TO251, TO262, ZTX851.

Unpackaged transistor chips (die) may be assembled into hybrid devices. [59] The IBM SLT module of the 1960s is one example of such a hybrid circuit module using glass passivated transistor (and diode) die. Other packaging techniques for discrete transistors as chips include Direct Chip Attach (DCA) and Chip On Board (COB). [59]

Flexible transistors

Researchers have made several kinds of flexible transistors, including organic field-effect transistors. [60] [61] [62] Flexible transistors are useful in some kinds of flexible displays and other flexible electronics.

See also

Directory of external websites with datasheets

Related Research Articles

MOSFET transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals

The metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor is a type of field-effect transistor (FET), most commonly fabricated by the controlled oxidation of silicon. It has an insulated gate, whose voltage determines the conductivity of the device. This ability to change conductivity with the amount of applied voltage can be used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. A metal-insulator-semiconductor field-effect transistor or MISFET is a term almost synonymous with MOSFET. Another synonym is IGFET for insulated-gate field-effect transistor.

JFET type of field-effect transistor

The junction gate field-effect transistor is one of the simple type of field-effect transistor. JFETs are three-terminal semiconductor devices that can be used as electronically-controlled switches, amplifiers, or voltage-controlled resistors.

Photodiode type of photodetector based on a p-n-junction

A photodiode is a semiconductor device that converts light into an electrical current. The current is generated when photons are absorbed in the photodiode. Photodiodes may contain optical filters, built-in lenses, and may have large or small surface areas. Photodiodes usually have a slower response time as their surface area increases. The common, traditional solar cell used to generate electric solar power is a large area photodiode.

Insulated-gate bipolar transistor three-terminal power semiconductor device

An insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is a three-terminal power semiconductor device primarily used as an electronic switch which, as it was developed, came to combine high efficiency and fast switching. It consists of four alternating layers (P-N-P-N) that are controlled by a metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) gate structure without regenerative action. Although the structure of the IGBT is topologically the same as a thyristor with a 'MOS' gate, the thyristor action is completely suppressed and only the transistor action is permitted in the entire device operation range. It switches electric power in many applications: variable-frequency drives (VFDs), electric cars, trains, variable speed refrigerators, lamp ballasts, air-conditioners and even stereo systems with switching amplifiers.

Pro Electron or EECA is the European type designation and registration system for active components.

A power semiconductor device is a semiconductor device used as a switch or rectifier in power electronics. Such a device is also called a power device or, when used in an integrated circuit, a power IC.

A MESFET is a field-effect transistor semiconductor device similar to a JFET with a Schottky (metal-semiconductor) junction instead of a p-n junction for a gate.

Safe operating area

For power semiconductor devices, the safe operating area (SOA) is defined as the voltage and current conditions over which the device can be expected to operate without self-damage.

The heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) is a type of bipolar junction transistor (BJT) which uses differing semiconductor materials for the emitter and base regions, creating a heterojunction. The HBT improves on the BJT in that it can handle signals of very high frequencies, up to several hundred GHz. It is commonly used in modern ultrafast circuits, mostly radio-frequency (RF) systems, and in applications requiring a high power efficiency, such as RF power amplifiers in cellular phones. The idea of employing a heterojunction is as old as the conventional BJT, dating back to a patent from 1951. Detailed theory of heterojunction bipolar transistor was developed by Herbert Kroemer in 1957.

Electronic component basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields

An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.

Power MOSFET power MOS field-effect transistor

A power MOSFET is a specific type of metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) designed to handle significant power levels.

Electronic symbol pictogram used to represent various electrical and electronic devices in a schematic diagram of an electrical or electronic circuit

An electronic symbol is a pictogram used to represent various electrical and electronic devices or functions, such as wires, batteries, resistors, and transistors, in a schematic diagram of an electrical or electronic circuit. These symbols are largely standardized internationally today, but may vary from country to country, or engineering discipline, based on traditional conventions.

An extrinsic semiconductor is one that has been doped; during manufacture of the semiconductor crystal a trace element or chemical called a doping agent has been incorporated chemically into the crystal, for the purpose of giving it different electrical properties than the pure semiconductor crystal, which is called an intrinsic semiconductor. In an extrinsic semiconductor it is these foreign dopant atoms in the crystal lattice that mainly provide the charge carriers which carry electric current through the crystal. The doping agents used are of two types, resulting in two types of extrinsic semiconductor. An electron donor dopant is an atom which, when incorporated in the crystal, releases a mobile conduction electron into the crystal lattice. An extrinsic semiconductor which has been doped with electron donor atoms is called an n-type semiconductor, because the majority of charge carriers in the crystal are negative electrons. An electron acceptor dopant is an atom which accepts an electron from the lattice, creating a vacancy where an electron should be called a hole which can move through the crystal like a positively charged particle. An extrinsic semiconductor which has been doped with electron acceptor atoms is called a p-type semiconductor, because the majority of charge carriers in the crystal are positive holes.

A diode-connected transistor is a method of creating a two-terminal rectifying device out of a three-terminal transistor. A characteristic of diode-connected transistors is that they are always in the saturation region for metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) and junction-gate field-effect transistors (JFETs), and in the active region for bipolar junction transistors (BJTs).

Baker clamp is a generic name for a class of electronic circuits that reduce the storage time of a switching bipolar junction transistor (BJT) by applying a nonlinear negative feedback through various kinds of diodes. The reason for slow turn-off times of saturated BJTs is the stored charge in the base. It must be removed before the transistor will turn off since the storage time is a limiting factor of using bipolar transistors and IGBTs in fast switching applications. The diode-based Baker clamps prevent the transistor from saturating and thereby accumulating a lot of stored charge.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to electronics:

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Further reading

Pinouts
Datasheets