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MPhys Physics with Astrophysics

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Semiconductor Quantum Structures

Unit code PHYS40712
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Physics & Astronomy
Available as a free choice unit? No


Semiconductor Quantum Structures


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Quantum Physics and Relativity PHYS10121 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Properties of Matter PHYS10352 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Statistical Mechanics PHYS20352 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Fundamentals of Solid State Physics PHYS20252 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


To explore light absorption, emission and transport processes in bulk and low dimensional semiconductor structures. To apply these ideas to practical devices including high-efficiency LEDs and lasers, and transistors with improved characteristics.

Learning outcomes

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.
On completion of the course students will be able to:
1. explain the processes of light emission, absorption and transport in semiconductor materials.
2. outline the materials used in optical and electronic devices and advanced semiconductor growth techniques, including methods of material doping.
3. employ mathematical and physical concepts to describe the behaviour of carriers which are confined in two, one and zero dimensional systems.
4. interpret the consequences of carrier confinement on electronic and optical properties of materials.
5. Explain and compare the physical principles governing the operation of semiconductor LEDs semiconductor lasers and diodes.
6. Explain the principles behind the realisation and application of advanced electronic structures.


1.   Review of relevant solid state physics (2 hours)
(Band theory, dispersion relation, density of states)


2.   Doping of semiconductors (0.5 hour)
(Donors and acceptors)

3.   Carrier distribution in intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors (1.5 hours)
(Fermi energy, electron and hole distributions in conduction and valence bands)


4.  Carrier recombination (3 hours)
(Diffusion, drift, conductivity, Hall Effect)


5. P/N junctions (1 hours)
(Minority carrier injection, bias)


6. Optical properties of semiconductors (2 hours)
(Absorption, emission, Fermi’s Golden Rule, excitons, LEDs)


7. Semiconductor lasers 4 hours)
(Condition for gain, gain spectrum, threshold current, Double Heterostructures)


8. Materials systems (2 hours)
(III- V materials, epitaxial growth techniques, alloys, lattice matching)

9.  Semiconductor quantum structures 4 hours)
(Quantum wells, wires and dots, density of states in two, one and zero dimensions)


10.  Applications of PN junctions and advanced electronic structures (3 hours)
(Photodiodes, solar cells and high electron mobility transistors)

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be available on students’ individual written solutions to examples sheets, and model answers will be issued.

Recommended reading

Streetman, B & Banerjee S, Solid State Electronic Devices
Davies, J.H. The Physics of Low-Dimensional Semiconductors (Cambridge University Press)
Fox, M. Optical Properties of Solids (Oxford University Press)
Singleton, J. Band Theory and Electronic Properties of Solids (Oxford University Press)
Singh, J. Semiconductor Optoelectronics (McGraw-Hill)
Wilson, J.F. & Hawkes, J. Optoelectronics, an Introduction (Prentice and Hall)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 23
Independent study hours
Independent study 75.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ivan Vera Marun Unit coordinator
Patrick Parkinson Unit coordinator

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