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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: June 2012




This chapter focuses attention on those aspects of transistor behavior that are of immediate relevance to the RF circuit designer. Separation of first-order from higher-order phenomena is emphasized, so there are many instances when crude approximations are presented in the interest of developing insight. As a consequence, this review is intended as a supplement to – rather than a replacement for – traditional rigorous treatments of the subject. In particular, we must acknowledge that today's deepsubmicron MOSFET is so complex a device that simple equations cannot possibly provide anything other than first-order (maybe even zeroth-order) approximations to the truth. The philosophy underlying this chapter is to convey a simple story that will enable first-pass designs, which are then verified by simulators using much more sophisticated models. Qualitative insights developed with the aid of the zeroth-order models enable the designer to react appropriately to bad news from the simulator. We design with a simpler set of models than those used for verification.

With that declaration out of the way, we now turn to some history before launching into a series of derivations.


Attempts to create field-effect transistors (FETs) actually predate the development of bipolar devices by over twenty years. In fact, the first patent application for a FET-like transistor was filed in 1926 by Julius Lilienfeld, but he never constructed a working device. Before co-inventing the bipolar transistor, William Shockley also tried to modulate the conductivity of a semiconductor to create a field-effect transistor.