ECE 5200 Semiconductor Alloys and Heterostructures | ECE | Virginia Tech


Course Information


Advanced treatment of semiconductor materials with an emphasis on binary compounds, ternary and quaternary alloys, and strained-layer structures. Topics include crystal structure; lattice vibrations and phonons; energy band structure; equilibrium and non-equilibrium carrier distributions; electron and hole transport via diffusion and drift; and carrier generation and recombination mechanisms.

Why take this course?

Students in the College of Engineering who intend to follow a career path that involves the development of new semiconductor materials and nanoscale structures must understand the underlying physical phenomena that enable the operation of modern devices built from such materials. This course will serve as a prerequisite for two new advanced courses offered in the MSE and ECE Departments on the topics of semiconductor-based nanostructures, electronic devices, and photonic devices.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the behavior of semiconductor materials from the perspective of quantum mechanics and solid-state physics.
  • Evaluate the impact of changes in material composition and/or structure at the atomic scale on the macroscopic physical properties of the material.
  • Identify the most optimum choices of semiconductor materials and structures to achieve specific types of device functionality.

Course Topics


Percentage of Course

Basic Concepts in Quantum Mechanics 5%
Crystal Structure and Reciprocal Space 5%
Lattice Vibrations and Phonons 10%
Electrons and Holes in Periodic Potentials 15%
Energy Band Structure of Semiconductor Alloys and Heterostructures 25%
Equilibrium Distributions of Electrons and Holes 10%
Boltzmann Transport Equations for Charge and Energy 10%
Carrier Generation and Recombination Mechanisms 10%
Drift and Diffusion Currents and the Continuity Equation 10%