The field-effect transistor (FET) relies on an electric field to control the shape and hence the conductivity of a channel of one type of charge carrier in a semiconductor material. FETs are sometimes called unipolar transistors to contrast their single-carrier-type operation with the dual-carrier-type operation of bipolar (junction) transistors (BJT). The concept of the FET predates the BJT, though it was not physically implemented until after BJTs due to the limitations of semiconductor materials and the relative ease of manufacturing BJTs compared to FETs at the time.
Field-effect transistors were invented by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1925 and by Oskar Heil in 1934, but practical devices were not able to be made until 1952 (the JFET). The MOSFET, which largely superseded the JFET and had a more profound effect on electronic development, was first proposed by Kahng in 1960.
All FETs have a gate, drain, and source terminal that correspond roughly to the base, collector, and emitter of BJTs. Aside from the JFET, all FETs also have a fourth terminal called the body, base, bulk, or substrate. This fourth terminal serves to bias the transistor into operation; it is rare to make non-trivial use of the body terminal in circuit designs, but its presence is important when setting up the physical layout of an integrated circuit.
The names of the terminals refer to their functions. The gate terminal may be thought of as controlling the opening and closing of a physical gate. This gate permits electrons to flow through or blocks their passage by creating or eliminating a channel between the source and drain. Electrons flow from the source terminal towards the drain terminal if influenced by an applied voltage. The body simply refers to the bulk of the semiconductor in which the gate, source and drain lie. Usually the body terminal is connected to the highest or lowest voltage within the circuit, depending on type. The body terminal and the source terminal are sometimes connected together since the source is also sometimes connected to the highest or lowest voltage within the circuit, however there are several uses of FETs which do not have such a configuration, such as transmission gates and cascode circuits.
The FET can be constructed from a number of semiconductors, silicon being by far the most common. Most FETs are made with conventional bulk semiconductor processing techniques, using the single crystal semiconductor wafer as the active region, or channel.
Among the more unusual body materials are amorphous silicon, polycrystalline silicon or other amorphous semiconductors in thin-film transistors or organic field effect transistors that are based on organic semiconductors and often apply organic gate insulators and electrodes.
The FET controls the flow of electrons (or electron holes) from the source to drain by affecting the size and shape of a "conductive channel" created and influenced by voltage (or lack of voltage) applied across the gate and source terminals (For ease of discussion, this assumes body and source are connected). This conductive channel is the "stream" through which electrons flow from source to drain.
In an n-channel depletion-mode device, a negative gate-to-source voltage causes a depletion region to expand in width and encroach on the channel from the sides, narrowing the channel. If the depletion region expands to completely close the channel, the resistance of the channel from source to drain becomes large, and the FET is effectively turned off like a switch. Likewise a positive gate-to-source voltage increases the channel size and allows electrons to flow easily.
Conversely, in an n-channel enhancement-mode device, a positive gate-to-source voltage is necessary to create a conductive channel, since one does not exist naturally within the transistor. The positive voltage attracts free-floating electrons within the body towards the gate, forming a conductive channel. But first, enough electrons must be attracted near the gate to counter the dopant ions added to the body of the FET; this forms a region free of mobile carriers called a depletion region, and the phenomenon is referred to as the threshold voltage of the FET. Further gate-to-source voltage increase will attract even more electrons towards the gate which are able to create a conductive channel from source to drain; this process is called inversion.
For either enhancement- or depletion-mode devices, at drain-to-source voltages much less than gate-to-source voltages, changing the gate voltage will alter the channel resistance, and drain current will be proportional to drain voltage (referenced to source voltage). In this mode the FET operates like a variable resistor and the FET is said to be operating in a linear mode or ohmic mode.
If drain-to-source voltage is increased, this creates a significant asymmetrical change in the shape of the channel due to a gradient of voltage potential from source to drain. The shape of the inversion region becomes "pinched-off" near the drain end of the channel. If drain-to-source voltage is increased further, the pinch-off point of the channel begins to move away from the drain towards the source. The FET is said to be in saturation mode; some authors refer to it as active mode, for a better analogy with bipolar transistor operating regions.The saturation mode, or the region between ohmic and saturation, is used when amplification is needed. The in-between region is sometimes considered to be part of the ohmic or linear region, even where drain current is not approximately linear with drain voltage.
Even though the conductive channel formed by gate-to-source voltage no longer connects source to drain during saturation mode, carriers are not blocked from flowing. Considering again an n-channel device, a depletion region exists in the p-type body, surrounding the conductive channel and drain and source regions. The electrons which comprise the channel are free to move out of the channel through the depletion region if attracted to the drain by drain-to-source voltage. The depletion region is free of carriers and has a resistance similar to silicon. Any increase of the drain-to-source voltage will increase the distance from drain to the pinch-off point, increasing resistance due to the depletion region proportionally to the applied drain-to-source voltage. This proportional change causes the drain-to-source current to remain relatively fixed independent of changes to the drain-to-source voltage and quite unlike the linear mode operation. Thus in saturation mode, the FET behaves as a constant-current source rather than as a resistor and can be used most effectively as a voltage amplifier. In this case, the gate-to-source voltage determines the level of constant current through the channel.
Nombre: Nubia Navarro
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