ECE 4070 / MSE 6050: Physics of Semiconductors and Nanostructures

Spring 2018, Cornell University



Instructor: Prof. Debdeep Jena (web)

Departments of ECE and MSE, Cornell University

Office: Phillips Hall 428B


Teaching Assistant



Class Hours

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:40 am – 12:55 pm @ Phillips 403

Office hours: TBD



ECE 4060 or a course in basic quantum mechanics.  Assumes exposure to basic quantum mechanics and statistical physics.


Course Contents [Cornell roster information]

Covers basic solid state and semiconductor physics relevant for understanding electronic and optical devices. Topics include crystalline structures, bonding in atoms and solids, energy bands in solids, electron statistics and dynamics in energy bands, effective mass equation, carrier transport in solids, Boltzmann transport equation, semiconductor homo- and hetero-junctions, optical processes in semiconductors, electronic and optical properties of semiconductor nanostructures, semiconductor quantum wells, wires, and dots, electron transport in reduced dimensions, semiconductor lasers and optoelectronics, high-frequency response of electrons in solids and plasmons.



+ Learn basic principles of solid state and semiconductor physics needed to understand modern electronic and photonic devices.

+ Learn how engineering materials and structures at the nanoscale enables novel electronic and photonic properties for a wide variety of engineering applications.

+ Learn the relationship between basic science and engineering applications.


Course info sheet

Course calendar [planned]

Course slides and Mathematica file for reference

Course Notes, Summary Notes, Heterojunctions

Course Website and Lecture Videos from the 2017 version of the class

Course Piazza link for discussions


The periodic table

The Fermi Surface Database

The Semiconductor Properties Database



0) Course Information [History of Semiconductors]

1) Classical free-electron models of solids

2) Quantum mechanics of electrons in atoms to nanostructures to bulk solids

3) Crystals, bandstructure of metals, semiconductors, insulators [e.g. Si, graphene, 2D atomic materials, nanotubes…]

4) Electron statistics, Doping and dynamics in bands

5) Quantum/ballistic electron transport, conductance quantization

6) The effective mass theorem, semiconductor heterostructures: Designer quantum wells, wires, dots

7) Nanoelectronic device example: The ballistic field-effect transistor

8) Tunneling, The Boltzmann transport equation, Phonons, Scattering, and Fermi’s golden rule

9) Electron-photon interaction, optical interband and intraband processes

10) Nanophotonic device example(s): LEDs, Lasers, Photovoltaics



1 - pdf  posted: 01/31/2018       due: 02/09/2018           

2 - pdf  posted: 02/11/2018       due: 02/23/2018           

3 - pdf  posted: 03/03/2018       due: 03/18/2018

4 - pdf  posted: 03/23/2018       due: 04/13/2018

5 - pdf  posted: 04/22/2018       due: 05/03/2018

6 - pdf  posted: 05/05/2018       due: 05/15/2018           


Exams and Grades

Other than the assignments, there will be two written prelim exams, and a written final exam. Here is the approximate breakup of scores that will go towards your final grade:

35% Assignments

15% Prelim 1 [Thursday March 1st, 2018]

20% Prelim 2 [Thursday April 12th, 2018]

30% Final [Saturday May 19th, 2018]


Demonstrations and Laboratories

A few demonstrations will be performed in the course. Some course assignments may include laboratory components or demonstrations.



The required reading will be the posted handouts. No text is required, but you are strongly encouraged to refer to the following texts:


-Ashcroft and Mermin (Solid State Physics)

-Kittel (Introduction to Solid State Physics)

-Davies (The Physics of Low Dimensional Semiconductors)

-Kroemer (Quantum Mechanics)

-Griffiths (Quantum Mechanics, if you have not had quantum before)