New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Electrical and Computer
Historically, undergraduate Electrical Engineering (EE) programs have taught electronic conduction phenomena using a “Top-Down” approach. That is, traditional programs start with large devices (i.e., “Top”) and teach how interesting electronic conduction phenomena change as the size of the device decreases towards the nano-scale (i.e., “Down”). So, for example, this approach would predict that as the length of a resistor is decreased, its resistance would approach zero ohms.
For the past five years, the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of “X” has been experimenting with teaching electronic conduction phenomena to EE students in a senior-level Advanced Electronics elective course using “Y” University’s new “Bottom-Up” Approach [1,2]. This “Bottom-Up Approach” first considers the theoretical treatment of both electronic conduction and Ohm’s Law in a nano-scale size conductor (i.e., “Bottom”) where ballistic conduction dominates. This device is known as an “elastic resistor”. Then this approach works “Up” towards large-scale conductors where electron scattering conduction dominates. The idea is that Electrical Engineering students can more simply and intuitively understand pure ballistic electronic conduction at the nano-scale, and then work backwards up to larger devices where more sophisticated electron flow phenomena (i.e., drift current, Boltzmann transport, etc) needs to be applied. Specifically, the course starts at the “Bottom” (or nano-scale) and considers the current/voltage (I/V) characteristic of an elastic nano-scale conductor with only one energy level. Using simple principles, the I/V characteristic of the conductor is easily found. Also, as the nano-conductor length dimension is shrunk to the order of 1nm, it is noted that a maximum Conductance (G) is reached having a value of 2*q2/h. This is called the Quantum of Conductance. Additionally, it is easy to teach concepts such as I2R power heating, Seebeck effect and Peltier effect in this “Bottom” regime. The main reason for the simplicity and success of this “Bottom-Up” approach is due to the clean separation between physical phenomena involving mechanics versus those involving thermodynamics within the nano-conductor. All the heating (or cooling) occurs in the contacts located at either end of the nano-conductor, and none within the conductor itself. Whereas, all the mechanics occurs within the nano-device itself, and is due to pure electron ballistic transport. Then, the treatment of electronic conduction is extended “Up” towards macro-scale devices where both the mechanics and thermodynamics phenomena are “all mixed up” within the channel causing the electron transport physics to become more complicated. But the well-known Ohm’s Law principle is recovered.
The assessment of this new approach has been done through student evaluations where it was found that the students understanding and interest was greatly enhanced, making this “Bottom-Up” approach very appealing in improving EE undergraduate students’ knowledge of electronic conduction phenomena.
 http://nanohub.org/courses/FoN1, “Fundamentals of Nanoelectronics, Part 1: Basic Concepts”
 S.Datta, Lessons from Nanoelectronics: A New Perspective in Transport, World Scientific (2012). World Scientific
Osterberg, P. M., & Inan, A. S. (2016, June), Teaching Electronic Conduction Phenomena to Undergraduate Electrical Engineering Students Using Purdue University's New "Bottom-Up" Approach Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27350
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