June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies
11.446.1 - 11.446.9
Development and Assessment of Interactive Spreadsheet Software for the Teaching of Semiconductor Device Theory
Previously, we reported on the initial development of specialized interactive spreadsheets and supporting exercises to aid in the teaching of semiconductor device concepts. Here, we discuss the continued development, implementation, and optimization of these tools using feedback based on instructor observation, course surveys, student focus groups, and various measures of student performance. The software is designed to serve as a “virtual laboratory” in which students can gain experience and use visualization to observe the inner workings of semiconductor devices, which are not normally directly observable. Quantities such as energy band diagrams, electron and hole concentrations, electric fields and potentials, recombination rates, and current densities are plotted for various devices, whose structural and doping parameters and applied biases can be varied interactively using dialog boxes. The resulting real- time graphical feedback can help to develop intuition and appeal to a variety of learning styles. Statistical analysis has been performed to assess the impact of assigning interactive exercises involving these spreadsheets on student learning. Students have expressed high levels of satisfaction with the quality and value of using this software and the related exercises. The interactive approach used in this software, with ActiveX-based controls over real-time plots, should be extendable to various other subject areas in engineering and physics instruction as well.
The tremendous growth of the semiconductor industry has created an increasing demand for engineers who are well trained in the subject of semiconductor device theory. Yet courses in this subject are often very difficult for students, because of the abstract nature of the material and our inability to provide a genuine laboratory experience involving the inner workings of those devices.1,2 To address this problem, we began development of a set of interactive Excel spreadsheets to provide a “virtual laboratory” experience for the students and thereby facilitate active learning processes.2 Here, we discuss the continued development, implementation, and optimization of these tools using feedback based on instructor observation, course surveys, student focus groups, and various measures of student performance.
Typically, students tend to fail to master two major concepts in this subject, the behavior of excess minority carriers in quasi-neutral regions, and the energy band diagram of metal-oxide- semiconductor (MOS) capacitors. They often fail to grasp the relationships between slopes and magnitudes of excess carrier density plots at depletion region boundaries, and between the diffusion currents and instantaneous voltage across a junction, respectively. Students also fail to appreciate the connection between electric fields and band bending in the MOS-C, and the change in field across the oxide-semiconductor interface. They also make typical mistakes relating charge density, electric field, and electrostatic potential. They also have difficulty inferring carrier concentrations from band diagrams. We believe these difficulties can be traced to the use of passive lecture delivery.
Venkatasubramanian, R., & Mendez, G. G., & Skromme, B. (2006, June), Development And Assessment Of Interactive Spreadsheet Software For The Teaching Of Semiconductor Device Theory Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1002
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