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Semiconductor Devices for a beginner/non-physics major

  1. Sep 5, 2014 #1
    I have joined a research lab on semiconductor nano devices and have been recommended to study the Robert F. Pierret book "Fundamentals of Semiconductor Devices" but unfortunately I could not understand most of the concepts after reading first three chapters. I am a computer science graduate with little to no background in physics. Please guide me about the resources to understand the above mentioned book adequately or any other book to start with. Thanx
    (I have also asked a similar question in Academic Guidance section but may be this is the more appropriate forum to ask this question)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2014 #2
    I would probably start with books on electrical engineering.
  4. Sep 11, 2014 #3
    Can you please suggest some readings in this regard?
  5. Sep 11, 2014 #4


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    Try Kittel's "Introduction to Solid State Physics"; it is an introductory text, though it does assume some familiarity with physics. It is a widely available classic.
  6. Sep 11, 2014 #5


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    I am assuming you have taken at least a year of intro physics? If so, then I would suggest a reasonable book on "modern physics" to get you the background you need. When I took an undergrad ee semiconductor device class out of a similar book (Muller and Kamins) we had to take quantum and solid state physics first, but that was a little overkill in my opinion.

    There may also be some electromagnetics at a slightly higher level than intro - for example you will see Poisson's equation for the electrostatic potential, but that is not a big leap from intro physics as long as you have seen basic vector calculus before.


    edit: by the way, Kittel is reasonable, but knowing some basic quantum first really is necessary in order to understand his solid state physics book ...
  7. Sep 11, 2014 #6


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  8. Sep 12, 2014 #7
    I do not have any background knowledge in physics except for some basics about general physics. I will look at the contents. Thanx

    I took intro physics during my undergrad but that was some time ago and I have almost forgotten the concepts. So should I start with the Modern Physics or go through basics like Mechanics, Electricity &Magnetism first? Thanx for the detailed reply.

  9. Sep 12, 2014 #8
    From "I am a computer science graduate with little to no background in physics" I infer that you have never been exposed to quantum mechanics. As JasonRF said, you need an introductory modern physics book.
    The simplest, gentlest and easiest introduction I have knowledge of is Arthur Beiser's "Concepts of Modern Physics", now in its sixth edition; another elementary intro seems to be Serway and Jewett's "Modern Physics" (but I have only glanced at it).
    This is by no means all of the story but might get you started without excessive shock.

    I then would proceed to a more 'advanced' introductory book, like Krane's "Modern Physics".
    This should give you the foundations you need to understand semiconductor and solid state physics at an elementary level.
    From here on you could deepen your knowledge with books on quantum mechanics and or solid state physics. But since you might be in a hurry, I would go to a semiconductor physics introduction for electronic engineers. The easiest one I know is Neamen's "Semiconductor Physics Devices".

    I would steer clear from Kittel, though.
    His might have been an introductory text in the first editions but now... I don't know, it seems a completely different thing (at least to me). An expression of his mastering the matter, maybe. An elegant reference book with beautiful pictures, perhaps. But I would not suggest his book as an introduction even to my worst enemy. I have the 6th edition. Maybe the first and second are better?
  10. Sep 16, 2014 #9
    Thanx for the detailed reply. You have set up a kind of work plan for me and hopefully I will be able to follow it. My goal is to get through the Pierret's book on Semiconductor Fundamentals. Also my background in Physics is very weak. I took college level physics many years ago and until now have forgotten every single detail. Hopefully I will be able to understand the suggested book on Modern Physics without prior background in Physics. Do you suggest that I should also study some book on Physics' fundamentals or take college level Physics course online?
  11. Sep 16, 2014 #10
    I am afraid you'll have to refresh your general physics, first. You are basically in for a full physics course from head to toes...

    Since you would be reasonably short in time, I would suggest this book: "Physics" by Alonso and Finn. Although I am not a fan of their latest all-in-one volume edition (I'd prefer the previous three tome edition), I believe this could be the right textbook for you. It covers mechanics and EM at a very basic level by giving just the essential results, without wandering around. It is useless for the modern physics part (just a handful of pages, too superficial), but hopefully you've got that already covered...
    Another good all-in-one volume is Ohanian's Physics (I am talking about the earlier editions, I have the 2nd and I like it), but Alonso and Finn give a more succinct exposition.

    Should you have more time at your hands I would suggest, for mechanics Kleppner and Kolenkow's "An Introduction to Mechanics" and for EM Purcell and Morin's "Electricity and Magnetism".

    Ah, and as far as online physics couses go, you can't go wrong with the MIT OCW lessons by Walter Lewin.
    May he live in good health for at least 200 years.

    EDIT: Just to add that you should also consider that books are like women: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, try to have a look at the different suggestions that came to you from different posters before making up your mind.

    "You've got work to do. Wild, wild work to do". :-]
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2014
  12. Sep 17, 2014 #11
    Thanks for the detailed reply SredniVashtar. May be I should start with basic physics first and then move to Modern Physics. I have not covered anything related to Modern Physics yet but hopefully I can get to speed by following suggestions listed in this thread.
  13. Sep 28, 2014 #12
    As mentioned, after you start to review some physics issues, I recommend this book:

    The Physics of Semiconductors, by Professor Marius Grundmann (2010, Springer)

    translated from German. Is excellent... but go step by step... be patience so you won't feel overwhelmed.
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