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1 History

For other uses, see Transistor (disambiguation).

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify

Main article: History of the transistor

The thermionic triode, a vacuum tube invented in 1907

A replica of the rst working transistor.

enabled amplied radio technology and long-distance

telephony. The triode, however, was a fragile device that
consumed a lot of power. Physicist Julius Edgar Lilienfeld led a patent for a eld-eect transistor (FET) in
Canada in 1925, which was intended to be a solid-state
replacement for the triode.[3][4] Lilienfeld also led identical patents in the United States in 1926[5] and 1928.[6][7]
However, Lilienfeld did not publish any research articles
about his devices nor did his patents cite any specic examples of a working prototype. Because the production
of high-quality semiconductor materials was still decades
away, Lilienfelds solid-state amplier ideas would not
have found practical use in the 1920s and 1930s, even if
such a device had been built.[8] In 1934, German inventor
Oskar Heil patented a similar device.[9]

Assorted discrete transistors. Packages in order from top to bottom: TO-3, TO-126, TO-92, SOT-23

and switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is

composed of semiconductor material with at least three
terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage
or current applied to one pair of the transistors terminals
changes the current through another pair of terminals.
Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than
the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a
signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated
From November 17, 1947 to December 23, 1947, John
The transistor is the fundamental building block of mod- Bardeen and Walter Brattain at AT&T's Bell Labs in the
ern electronic devices, and is ubiquitous in modern elec- United States, performed experiments and observed that
tronic systems. Following its development in 1947 when two gold point contacts were applied to a crysby American physicists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, tal of germanium, a signal was produced with the outand William Shockley, the transistor revolutionized the put power greater than the input.[10] Solid State Physics
eld of electronics, and paved the way for smaller and Group leader William Shockley saw the potential in this,
cheaper radios, calculators, and computers, among other and over the next few months worked to greatly expand
things. The transistor is on the list of IEEE milestones in the knowledge of semiconductors. The term transiselectronics,[1] and the inventors were jointly awarded the tor was coined by John R. Pierce as a contraction of
1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for their achievement.[2]
the term transresistance.[11][12][13] According to Lillian


John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell

Labs, 1948.

Hoddeson and Vicki Daitch, authors of a biography of

John Bardeen, Shockley had proposed that Bell Labs rst
patent for a transistor should be based on the eld-eect
and that he be named as the inventor. Having unearthed
Lilienfelds patents that went into obscurity years earlier, lawyers at Bell Labs advised against Shockleys proposal because the idea of a eld-eect transistor that used
an electric eld as a grid was not new. Instead, what
Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley invented in 1947 was
the rst point-contact transistor.[8] In acknowledgement
of this accomplishment, Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain
were jointly awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for
their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of
the transistor eect.[14]

produced in 1955 by Chrysler and Philco, used these transistors in its circuitry and also they were the rst suitable
for high-speed computers.[19][20][21][22]

The rst high-frequency transistor was the surface-barrier

germanium transistor developed by Philco in 1953, capable of operating up to 60 MHz.[16] These were made
by etching depressions into an N-type germanium base
from both sides with jets of Indium(III) sulfate until it
was a few ten-thousandths of an inch thick. Indium electroplated into the depressions formed the collector and
emitter.[17][18] The rst all-transistor car radio, which was

ery year,[29] the vast majority of transistors are now produced in integrated circuits (often shortened to IC, microchips or simply chips), along with diodes, resistors,
capacitors and other electronic components, to produce
complete electronic circuits. A logic gate consists of up
to about twenty transistors whereas an advanced microprocessor, as of 2009, can use as many as 3 billion transistors (MOSFETs).[30] About 60 million transistors were

Philco surface-barrier transistor developed and produced in


The rst working silicon transistor was developed at Bell

Labs on January 26, 1954 by Morris Tanenbaum. The
rst commercial silicon transistor was produced by Texas
Instruments in 1954. This was the work of Gordon Teal,
an expert in growing crystals of high purity, who had previously worked at Bell Labs. [23][24][25] The rst MOS
In 1948, the point-contact transistor was independently transistor actually built was by Kahng and Atalla at Bell
invented by German physicists Herbert Matar and Labs in 1960.[26]
Heinrich Welker while working at the Compagnie des
Freins et Signaux, a Westinghouse subsidiary located
in Paris. Matar had previous experience in developing crystal rectiers from silicon and germanium in the 2 Importance
German radar eort during World War II. Using this
knowledge, he began researching the phenomenon of The transistor is the key active component in practically
"interference" in 1947. By June 1948, witnessing cur- all modern electronics. Many consider it to be one of the
rents owing through point-contacts, Matar produced greatest inventions of the 20th century.[27] Its importance
consistent results using samples of germanium produced in todays society rests on its ability to be mass-produced
by Welker, similar to what Bardeen and Brattain had ac- using a highly automated process (semiconductor device
complished earlier in December 1947. Realizing that fabrication) that achieves astonishingly low per-transistor
Bell Labs scientists had already invented the transistor costs. The invention of the rst transistor at Bell Labs was
before them, the company rushed to get its transistron named an IEEE Milestone in 2009.[28]
into production for amplied use in Frances telephone Although several companies each produce over a billion
individually packaged (known as discrete) transistors ev-


Transistor as a switch

its terminals to control a much larger signal at another
pair of terminals. This property is called gain. It can produce a stronger output signal, a voltage or current, which
is proportional to a weaker input signal; that is, it can act
as an amplier. Alternatively, the transistor can be used
to turn current on or o in a circuit as an electrically controlled switch, where the amount of current is determined
by other circuit elements.

A Darlington transistor opened up so the actual transistor chip

(the small square) can be seen inside. A Darlington transistor
is eectively two transistors on the same chip. One transistor is
much larger than the other, but both are large in comparison to
transistors in large-scale integration because this particular example is intended for power applications.

built in 2002 ... for [each] man, woman, and child on


There are two types of transistors, which have slight differences in how they are used in a circuit. A bipolar transistor has terminals labeled base, collector, and emitter.
A small current at the base terminal (that is, owing between the base and the emitter) can control or switch a
much larger current between the collector and emitter terminals. For a eld-eect transistor, the terminals are labeled gate, source, and drain, and a voltage at the gate
can control a current between source and drain.
The image to the right represents a typical bipolar transistor in a circuit. Charge will ow between emitter and
collector terminals depending on the current in the base.
Because internally the base and emitter connections behave like a semiconductor diode, a voltage drop develops
between base and emitter while the base current exists.
The amount of this voltage depends on the material the
transistor is made from, and is referred to as VBE.

The transistors low cost, exibility, and reliability have

made it a ubiquitous device. Transistorized mechatronic
circuits have replaced electromechanical devices in controlling appliances and machinery. It is often easier and
cheaper to use a standard microcontroller and write a
computer program to carry out a control function than 3.1
to design an equivalent mechanical control function.

Transistor as a switch


Simplied operation








BJT used as an electronic switch, in grounded-emitter conguration.

Transistors are commonly used as electronic switches,

both for high-power applications such as switched-mode
power supplies and for low-power applications such as
logic gates.

In a grounded-emitter transistor circuit, such as the lightswitch circuit shown, as the base voltage rises, the emitter
A simple circuit diagram to show the labels of a npn bipolar and collector currents rise exponentially. The collector
voltage drops because of reduced resistance from collectransistor.
tor to emitter. If the voltage dierence between the colThe essential usefulness of a transistor comes from its lector and emitter were zero (or near zero), the collector
ability to use a small signal applied between one pair of current would be limited only by the load resistance (light


bulb) and the supply voltage. This is called saturation be- transmission, and signal processing. The rst discretecause current is owing from collector to emitter freely. transistor audio ampliers barely supplied a few hunWhen saturated, the switch is said to be on.[32]
dred milliwatts, but power and audio delity gradually
Providing sucient base drive current is a key problem in increased as better transistors became available and amthe use of bipolar transistors as switches. The transistor plier architecture evolved.
provides current gain, allowing a relatively large current Modern transistor audio ampliers of up to a few hundred
in the collector to be switched by a much smaller cur- watts are common and relatively inexpensive.
rent into the base terminal. The ratio of these currents
varies depending on the type of transistor, and even for a
particular type, varies depending on the collector current.
4 Comparison with vacuum tubes
In the example light-switch circuit shown, the resistor is
chosen to provide enough base current to ensure the tranPrior to the development of transistors, vacuum (elecsistor will be saturated.
tron) tubes (or in the UK thermionic valves or just
In any switching circuit, values of input voltage would be valves) were the main active components in electronic
chosen such that the output is either completely o,[33] or equipment.
completely on. The transistor is acting as a switch, and
this type of operation is common in digital circuits where
only on and o values are relevant.
4.1 Advantages


The key advantages that have allowed transistors to replace their vacuum tube predecessors in most applications are

Transistor as an amplier




No power consumption by a cathode heater; the

characteristic orange glow of vacuum tubes is due
to a simple electrical heating element, much like a
light bulb lament.



Low operating voltages compatible with batteries of

only a few cells.
No warm-up period for cathode heaters required after power application.


Small size and minimal weight, allowing the development of miniaturized electronic devices.


Lower power dissipation and generally greater energy eciency.

Higher reliability and greater physical ruggedness.
Extremely long life. Some transistorized devices
have been in service for more than 50 years.

Amplier circuit, common-emitter conguration with a voltagedivider bias circuit.

The common-emitter amplier is designed so that a small

change in voltage (V ) changes the small current through
the base of the transistor; the transistors current amplication combined with the properties of the circuit mean
that small swings in V produce large changes in V .

Complementary devices available, facilitating the

design of complementary-symmetry circuits, something not possible with vacuum tubes.
Greatly reduced sensitivity to mechanical shock
and vibration, thus reducing the problem of
microphonics in sensitive applications, such as audio.

Various congurations of single transistor amplier are

possible, with some providing current gain, some voltage
gain, and some both.
4.2 Limitations
From mobile phones to televisions, vast numbers of products include ampliers for sound reproduction, radio
Silicon transistors can age and fail.[34]


Bipolar junction transistor (BJT)

High-power, high-frequency operation, such as that

Amplication factor h , F (transistor beta)[36] or
used in over-the-air television broadcasting, is better
g (transconductance).
achieved in vacuum tubes due to improved electron
mobility in a vacuum.
Thus, a particular transistor may be described as silicon,
surface-mount, BJT, npn, low-power, high-frequency
Solid-state devices are more vulnerable to switch.
electrostatic discharge in handling and operation

5.1 Bipolar junction transistor (BJT)

A vacuum tube momentarily overloaded will just get

a little hotter; solid-state devices have less mass to
Main article: Bipolar junction transistor
absorb the heat due to overloads, in proportion to
their rating
Bipolar transistors are so named because they conduct by
Sensitivity to radiation and cosmic rays (special using both majority and minority carriers. The bipolar
radiation-hardened chips are used for spacecraft de- junction transistor, the rst type of transistor to be massvices).
produced, is a combination of two junction diodes, and
is formed of either a thin layer of p-type semiconduc Vacuum tubes create a distortion, the so-called tube tor sandwiched between two n-type semiconductors (an
sound, which some people nd to be more tolerable npn transistor), or a thin layer of n-type semiconducto the ear.[35]
tor sandwiched between two p-type semiconductors (a
pnp transistor). This construction produces two pn
junctions: a baseemitter junction and a basecollector
5 Types
junction, separated by a thin region of semiconductor
known as the base region (two junction diodes wired together without sharing an intervening semiconducting reBJT and JFET symbols
gion will not make a transistor).
JFET and MOSFET symbols
Transistors are categorized by
Semiconductor material (date rst used): the
metalloids germanium (1947) and silicon (1954)
in amorphous, polycrystalline and monocrystalline
form; the compounds gallium arsenide (1966) and
silicon carbide (1997), the alloy silicon-germanium
(1989), the allotrope of carbon graphene (research
ongoing since 2004), etc.see Semiconductor material
insulated-gate bipolar transistor, other types
Electrical polarity (positive and negative): npn,
pnp (BJTs); n-channel, p-channel (FETs)
Maximum power rating: low, medium, high
Maximum operating frequency: low, medium, high,
radio (RF), microwave frequency (the maximum effective frequency of a transistor is denoted by the
term fT , an abbreviation for transition frequency
the frequency of transition is the frequency at which
the transistor yields unity gain)

BJTs have three terminals, corresponding to the three layers of semiconductoran emitter, a base, and a collector. They are useful in ampliers because the currents
at the emitter and collector are controllable by a relatively small base current.[37] In an npn transistor operating in the active region, the emitterbase junction
is forward biased (electrons and holes recombine at the
junction), and electrons are injected into the base region. Because the base is narrow, most of these electrons will diuse into the reverse-biased (electrons and
holes are formed at, and move away from the junction)
basecollector junction and be swept into the collector;
perhaps one-hundredth of the electrons will recombine
in the base, which is the dominant mechanism in the base
current. By controlling the number of electrons that can
leave the base, the number of electrons entering the collector can be controlled.[37] Collector current is approximately (common-emitter current gain) times the base
current. It is typically greater than 100 for small-signal
transistors but can be smaller in transistors designed for
high-power applications.

Unlike the eld-eect transistor (see below), the BJT is a

lowinput-impedance device. Also, as the baseemitter
voltage (Vbe) is increased the baseemitter current and
hence the collectoremitter current (Ice) increase exponentially according to the Shockley diode model and the
Application: switch, general purpose, audio, high Ebers-Moll model. Because of this exponential relationvoltage, super-beta, matched pair
ship, the BJT has a higher transconductance than the FET.
Physical packaging: through-hole metal, through- Bipolar transistors can be made to conduct by exposure
hole plastic, surface mount, ball grid array, power to light, because absorption of photons in the base region
modulessee Packaging
generates a photocurrent that acts as a base current; the


collector current is approximately times the photocur- channel is turned on or o with zero gate-to-source voltrent. Devices designed for this purpose have a transparent age. For enhancement mode, the channel is o at zero
window in the package and are called phototransistors.
bias, and a gate potential can enhance the conduction.
For the depletion mode, the channel is on at zero bias, and
a gate potential (of the opposite polarity) can deplete
the channel, reducing conduction. For either mode, a
5.2 Field-eect transistor (FET)
more positive gate voltage corresponds to a higher current
Main articles: Field-eect transistor, MOSFET and for n-channel devices and a lower current for p-channel
devices. Nearly all JFETs are depletion-mode because
the diode junctions would forward bias and conduct if
they were enhancement-mode devices; most IGFETs are
The eld-eect transistor, sometimes called a unipolar
enhancement-mode types.
transistor, uses either electrons (in n-channel FET) or
holes (in p-channel FET) for conduction. The four terminals of the FET are named source, gate, drain, and body
5.3 Usage of bipolar and eld-eect tran(substrate). On most FETs, the body is connected to the
source inside the package, and this will be assumed for
the following description.
The bipolar junction transistor (BJT) was the most comIn a FET, the drain-to-source current ows via a conduct- monly used transistor in the 1960s and 70s. Even after
ing channel that connects the source region to the drain re- MOSFETs became widely available, the BJT remained
gion. The conductivity is varied by the electric eld that the transistor of choice for many analog circuits such as
is produced when a voltage is applied between the gate ampliers because of their greater linearity and ease of
and source terminals; hence the current owing between manufacture. In integrated circuits, the desirable propthe drain and source is controlled by the voltage applied erties of MOSFETs allowed them to capture nearly all
between the gate and source. As the gatesource volt- market share for digital circuits. Discrete MOSFETs can
age (Vgs) is increased, the drainsource current (Ids) in- be applied in transistor applications, including analog circreases exponentially for Vgs below threshold, and then at cuits, voltage regulators, ampliers, power transmitters
a roughly quadratic rate ( Ids (Vgs VT )2 ) (where VT and motor drivers.
is the threshold voltage at which drain current begins)[38]
in the "space-charge-limited" region above threshold. A
quadratic behavior is not observed in modern devices, for 5.4 Other transistor types
example, at the 65 nm technology node.[39]
For low noise at narrow bandwidth the higher input resistance of the FET is advantageous.
FETs are divided into two families: junction FET (JFET)
and insulated gate FET (IGFET). The IGFET is more
commonly known as a metaloxidesemiconductor FET
(MOSFET), reecting its original construction from layers of metal (the gate), oxide (the insulation), and semiconductor. Unlike IGFETs, the JFET gate forms a pn
diode with the channel which lies between the source and
drain. Functionally, this makes the n-channel JFET the
solid-state equivalent of the vacuum tube triode which,
similarly, forms a diode between its grid and cathode.
Also, both devices operate in the depletion mode, they
both have a high input impedance, and they both conduct
current under the control of an input voltage.
Transistor symbol drawn on Portuguese pavement in the
University of Aveiro.

Metalsemiconductor FETs (MESFETs) are JFETs in

which the reverse biased pn junction is replaced by a
For early bipolar transistors, see Bipolar junction tranmetalsemiconductor junction. These, and the HEMTs
sistor#Bipolar transistors.
(high-electron-mobility transistors, or HFETs), in which
a two-dimensional electron gas with very high carrier mobility is used for charge transport, are especially suitable
Bipolar junction transistor
for use at very high frequencies (microwave frequencies;
several GHz).
Heterojunction bipolar transistor, up to several hundred GHz, common in modern ultraFETs are further divided into depletion-mode and
fast and RF circuits
enhancement-mode types, depending on whether the


Other transistor types

Schottky transistor
Avalanche transistor
Darlington transistors are two BJTs connected
together to provide a high current gain equal
to the product of the current gains of the two
Insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs) use
a medium-power IGFET, similarly connected
to a power BJT, to give a high input
impedance. Power diodes are often connected
between certain terminals depending on specic use. IGBTs are particularly suitable for
heavy-duty industrial applications. The Asea
Brown Boveri (ABB) 5SNA2400E170100 illustrates just how far power semiconductor technology has advanced.[40] Intended for
three-phase power supplies, this device houses
three npn IGBTs in a case measuring 38 by
140 by 190 mm and weighing 1.5 kg. Each
IGBT is rated at 1,700 volts and can handle
2,400 amperes.
Photo transistor
Multiple-emitter transistor, used in transistor
transistor logic
Multiple-base transistor, used to amplify verylow-level signals in noisy environments such as
the pickup of a record player or radio front
ends. Eectively, it is a very large number
of transistors in parallel where, at the output,
the signal is added constructively, but random
noise is added only stochastically.[41]
Field-eect transistor
Carbon nanotube eld-eect transistor (CNFET), where the channel material is replaced
by a carbon nanotube.
JFET, where the gate is insulated by a reversebiased pn junction
MESFET, similar to JFET with a Schottky
junction instead of a pn junction


MOSFET, where the gate is insulated by a

shallow layer of insulator
Inverted-T eld-eect transistor (ITFET)
FinFET, source/drain region shapes ns on the
silicon surface.
FREDFET, fast-reverse epitaxial diode eldeect transistor
Thin-lm transistor, in LCDs.
Organic eld-eect transistor (OFET), in
which the semiconductor is an organic compound

Ballistic transistor
Floating-gate transistor, for non-volatile storage.
FETs used to sense environment
Ion-sensitive eld eect transistor (IFSET), to measure ion concentrations in
electrolyte-oxidesemiconductor eld-eect transistor
DNAFET, deoxyribonucleic acid eldeect transistor
Tunnel eld-eect transistor. TFETs switch by
modulating quantum tunnelling through a barrier.
Diusion transistor, formed by diusing dopants
into semiconductor substrate; can be both BJT and
Unijunction transistors can be used as simple pulse
generators. They comprise a main body of either Ptype or N-type semiconductor with ohmic contacts
at each end (terminals Base1 and Base2). A junction
with the opposite semiconductor type is formed at
a point along the length of the body for the third
terminal (Emitter).
Single-electron transistors (SET) consist of a gate island between two tunneling junctions. The tunneling current is controlled by a voltage applied to the
gate through a capacitor.[42]
Nanouidic transistor, controls the movement
of ions through sub-microscopic, water-lled
Multigate devices

Tetrode transistor
Pentode transistor
Trigate transistors (Prototype by Intel)
Dual-gate FETs have a single channel with
two gates in cascode; a conguration optimized for high-frequency ampliers, mixers,
and oscillators.

Junctionless nanowire transistor (JNT), uses a simple nanowire of silicon surrounded by an electrically
isolated wedding ring that acts to gate the ow of
electrons through the wire.
Vacuum-channel transistor: In 2012, NASA and the
National Nanofab Center in South Korea were reported to have built a prototype vacuum-channel
transistor in only 150 nanometers in size, can be
manufactured cheaply using standard silicon semiconductor processing, can operate at high speeds
even in hostile environments, and could consume
just as much power as a standard transistor.[44]
Organic electrochemical transistor


Part numbering standards / specications

are second-sourced, a manufacturers prex (like MPF

in MPF102, which originally would denote a Motorola
FET) now is an unreliable indicator of who made the
device. Some proprietary naming schemes adopt parts
The types of some transistors can be parsed from the part of other naming schemes, for example a PN2222A is a
number. There are three major semiconductor naming (possibly Fairchild Semiconductor) 2N2222A in a plasstandards; in each the alphanumeric prex provides clues tic case (but a PN108 is a plastic version of a BC108, not
to type of the device.
a 2N108, while the PN100 is unrelated to other xx100


Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS)

The JIS-C-7012 specication for transistor part numbers

starts with 2S,[45] e.g. 2SD965, but sometimes the 2S
prex is not marked on the package a 2SD965 might
only be marked D965"; a 2SC1815 might be listed by
a supplier as simply C1815. This series sometimes has
suxes (such as R, O, BL... standing for Red,
Orange, Blue etc.) to denote variants, such as tighter
hFE (gain) groupings.


Manufacturers buying large numbers of similar parts may

have them supplied with house numbers, identifying
a particular purchasing specication and not necessarily a device with a standardized registered number. For
example, an HP part 1854,0053 is a (JEDEC) 2N2218
transistor[48][49] which is also assigned the CV number:

6.5 Naming problems

European Electronic Component
Manufacturers Association (EECA)
With so many independent naming schemes, and the ab-

The Pro Electron standard, the European Electronic

Component Manufacturers Association part numbering
scheme, begins with two letters: the rst gives the semiconductor type (A for germanium, B for silicon, and C
for materials like GaAs); the second letter denotes the
intended use (A for diode, C for general-purpose transistor, etc.). A 3-digit sequence number (or one letter
then 2 digits, for industrial types) follows. With early devices this indicated the case type. Suxes may be used,
with a letter (e.g. C often means high hFE, such as in:
BC549C[46] ) or other codes may follow to show gain (e.g.
BC327-25) or voltage rating (e.g. BUK854-800A[47] ).
The more common prexes are:


Military part numbers sometimes are assigned their own

codes, such as the British Military CV Naming System.

Joint Electron Devices Engineering

Council (JEDEC)

The JEDEC EIA370 transistor device numbers usually

start with 2N, indicating a three-terminal device (dualgate eld-eect transistors are four-terminal devices, so
begin with 3N), then a 2, 3 or 4-digit sequential number with no signicance as to device properties (although
early devices with low numbers tend to be germanium).
For example 2N3055 is a silicon npn power transistor,
2N1301 is a pnp germanium switching transistor. A
letter sux (such as A) is sometimes used to indicate a
newer variant, but rarely gain groupings.

breviation of part numbers when printed on the devices,

ambiguity sometimes occurs. For example two dierent
devices may be marked J176 (one the J176 low-power
Junction FET, the other the higher-powered MOSFET
As older through-hole transistors are given surfacemount packaged counterparts, they tend to be assigned
many dierent part numbers because manufacturers have
their own systems to cope with the variety in pinout arrangements and options for dual or matched npn+pn
p devices in one pack. So even when the original device
(such as a 2N3904) may have been assigned by a standards authority, and well known by engineers over the
years, the new versions are far from standardized in their

7 Construction
7.1 Semiconductor material
The rst BJTs were made from germanium (Ge). Silicon
(Si) types currently predominate but certain advanced
microwave and high-performance versions now employ
the compound semiconductor material gallium arsenide
(GaAs) and the semiconductor alloy silicon germanium
(SiGe). Single element semiconductor material (Ge and
Si) is described as elemental.

Rough parameters for the most common semiconductor

materials used to make transistors are given in the table to
the right; these parameters will vary with increase in temManufacturers of devices may have their own proprietary perature, electric eld, impurity level, strain, and sundry
numbering system, for example CK722. Since devices other factors.





The junction forward voltage is the voltage applied to the

emitterbase junction of a BJT in order to make the base
conduct a specied current. The current increases exponentially as the junction forward voltage is increased.
The values given in the table are typical for a current of
1 mA (the same values apply to semiconductor diodes).
The lower the junction forward voltage the better, as this
means that less power is required to drive the transistor. The junction forward voltage for a given current decreases with increase in temperature. For a typical silicon
junction the change is 2.1 mV/C.[51] In some circuits
special compensating elements (sensistors) must be used
to compensate for such changes.

AlSi junction refers to the high-speed (aluminum
silicon) metalsemiconductor barrier diode, commonly
known as a Schottky diode. This is included in the table because some silicon power IGFETs have a parasitic
reverse Schottky diode formed between the source and
drain as part of the fabrication process. This diode can
be a nuisance, but sometimes it is used in the circuit.

7.2 Packaging
See also: Semiconductor package and Chip carrier
Discrete transistors are individually packaged transis-

The density of mobile carriers in the channel of a MOSFET is a function of the electric eld forming the channel and of various other phenomena such as the impurity
level in the channel. Some impurities, called dopants, are
introduced deliberately in making a MOSFET, to control
the MOSFET electrical behavior.
The electron mobility and hole mobility columns show the
average speed that electrons and holes diuse through the
semiconductor material with an electric eld of 1 volt per
meter applied across the material. In general, the higher
the electron mobility the faster the transistor can operate.
The table indicates that Ge is a better material than Si in Assorted discrete transistors
this respect. However, Ge has four major shortcomings
tors. Transistors come in many dierent semiconductor
compared to silicon and gallium arsenide:
packages (see image). The two main categories are
through-hole (or leaded), and surface-mount, also known
Its maximum temperature is limited;
as surface-mount device (SMD). The ball grid array
(BGA) is the latest surface-mount package (currently only
it has relatively high leakage current;
for large integrated circuits). It has solder balls on the
underside in place of leads. Because they are smaller and
it cannot withstand high voltages;
have shorter interconnections, SMDs have better highfrequency characteristics but lower power rating.
it is less suitable for fabricating integrated circuits.
Transistor packages are made of glass, metal, ceramic, or
plastic. The package often dictates the power rating and
Because the electron mobility is higher than the hole mobility for all semiconductor materials, a given bipolar n frequency characteristics. Power transistors have larger
packages that can be clamped to heat sinks for enhanced
pn transistor tends to be swifter than an equivalent p
Additionally, most power transistors have the
np transistor. GaAs has the highest electron mobility of
collector or drain physically connected to the metal enthe three semiconductors. It is for this reason that GaAs
is used in high-frequency applications. A relatively re- closure. At the other extreme, some surface-mount microwave transistors are as small as grains of sand.
cent FET development, the high-electron-mobility transistor (HEMT), has a heterostructure (junction between Often a given transistor type is available in several packdierent semiconductor materials) of aluminium gal- ages. Transistor packages are mainly standardized, but
lium arsenide (AlGaAs)-gallium arsenide (GaAs) which the assignment of a transistors functions to the terminals
has twice the electron mobility of a GaAs-metal barrier is not: other transistor types can assign other functions
junction. Because of their high speed and low noise, to the packages terminals. Even for the same transisHEMTs are used in satellite receivers working at frequen- tor type the terminal assignment can vary (normally indicies around 12 GHz. HEMTs based on gallium nitride cated by a sux letter to the part number, q.e. BC212L
and aluminium gallium nitride (AlGaN/GaN HEMTs) and BC212K).
provide a still higher electron mobility and are being de- Nowadays most transistors come in a wide range of SMT
veloped for various applications.
packages, in comparison the list of available through-hole
Max. junction temperature values represent a cross
section taken from various manufacturers data sheets.
This temperature should not be exceeded or the transistor
may be damaged.

packages is relatively small, here is a short list of the

most common through-hole transistors packages in alphabetical order: ATV, E-line, MRT, HRT, SC-43, SC-72,
TO-3, TO-18, TO-39, TO-92, TO-126, TO220, TO247,



TO251, TO262, ZTX851


Flexible transistors

Researchers have made several kinds of exible transistors, including organic eld-eect transistors.[52][53][54]
Flexible transistors are useful in some kinds of exible
displays and other exible electronics.

See also
Band gap
Digital electronics
Moores law
Semiconductor device modeling
Transistor count
Transistor model
Very-large-scale integration

Directory of external websites

with datasheets
BC546/BC556: Ubiquitous, BJT, general-purpose,
low-power, complementary pairs. They have plastic
cases and cost roughly ten cents U.S. in small
quantities, making them popular with hobbyists.


BU508: npn, 1500 V power BJT. Designed for

television horizontal deection, its high voltage capability also makes it suitable for use in ignition systems.
MJ11012/MJ11015: 30 A, 120 V, 200 W, high
power Darlington complementary pair BJTs. Used
in audio ampliers, control, and power switching.
2N5457/2N5460: JFET (depletion mode), general
purpose, low power, complementary pair.
BSP296/BSP171: IGFET (enhancement mode),
medium power, near complementary pair. Used for
logic level conversion and driving power transistors
in ampliers.
IRF3710/IRF5210: IGFET (enhancement mode),
40 A, 100 V, 200 W, near complementary pair.
For high-power ampliers and power switches, especially in automobiles.

10 References
[1] "Milestones:Invention of the First Transistor at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., 1947. IEEE Global History
Network. IEEE. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
[2] The Nobel Prize in Physics 1956. Nobelprize.org. Nobel
Media AB. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
[3] Vardalas, John, Twists and Turns in the Development of
the Transistor IEEE-USA Todays Engineer, May 2003.
[4] Lilienfeld, Julius Edgar, Method and apparatus for controlling electric current U.S. Patent 1,745,175 January
28, 1930 (led in Canada 1925-10-22, in US 1926-1008).

AF107: Germanium, 0.5 watt, 250 MHz pnp


[5] Method And Apparatus For Controlling Electric Currents. United States Patent and Trademark Oce.

BFP183: Low-power, 8 GHz microwave npn


[6] Amplier For Electric Currents. United States Patent

and Trademark Oce.

LM394: supermatch pair, with two npn BJTs

on a single substrate.

[7] Device For Controlling Electric Current. United States

Patent and Trademark Oce.

2N2219A/2N2905A: BJT, general purpose,

medium power, complementary pair. With metal
cases they are rated at about one watt.

[8] Twists and Turns in the Development of the Transistor.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

2N3055/MJ2955: For years, the npn 2N3055 has

been the standard power transistor. Its complement, the pnp MJ2955 arrived later. These 1
MHz, 15 A, 60 V, 115 W BJTs are used in audiopower ampliers, power supplies, and control.
2SC3281/2SA1302: Made by Toshiba, these BJTs
have low-distortion characteristics and are used in
high-power audio ampliers. They have been widely
counterfeited .

[9] Heil, Oskar, Improvements in or relating to electrical

ampliers and other control arrangements and devices,
Patent No. GB439457, European Patent Oce, led in
Great Britain 1934-03-02, published December 6, 1935
(originally led in Germany 1934-03-02).
[10] November 17 December 23, 1947: Invention of the
First Transistor. American Physical Society.
[11] Bell Laboratories (1983). S. Millman, ed. A History of
Engineering and Science in the Bell System, Physical Science (1925-1980). AT&T Bell Laboratories. p. 102.


[12] David Bodanis (2005). Electric Universe. Crown Publishers, New York. ISBN 0-7394-5670-9.

[30] "ATI and Nvidia face o. October 7, 2009. Retrieved on

February 2, 2011.

[13] transistor. American Heritage Dictionary (3rd ed.).

Boston: Houghton Miin. 1992.

[31] Jim Turley. The Two Percent Solution 2002.

[14] The Nobel Prize in Physics 1956.

[32] Kaplan, Daniel (2003). Hands-On Electronics. New York:

Cambridge University Press. pp. 4754, 6061. ISBN

[15] 1948 - The European Transistor Invention. Computer

History Museum.

[33] apart from a small value due to leakage currents

[16] W.E. Bradley (December 1953). The Surface-Barrier

Transistor: Part I-Principles of the Surface-Barrier Transistor. Proceedings of the IRE 41 (12): 17021706.
[17] Wall Street Journal, December 4, 1953, page 4, Article
Philco Claims Its Transistor Outperforms Others Now In

[34] John Keane and Chris H. Kim, Transistor Aging, IEEE

Spectrum (web feature), April 25, 2011.
[35] van der Veen, M. (2005). Universal system and output
transformer for valve ampliers (PDF). 118th AES Convention, Barcelona, Spain.
[36] Transistor Example. 071003 bcae1.com

[18] Electronics magazine, January 1954, Article Electroplated Transistors Announced

[37] Streetman, Ben (1992). Solid State Electronic Devices.

Englewood Clis, NJ: Prentice-Hall. pp. 301305. ISBN

[19] Wall Street Journal, Chrysler Promises Car Radio With

Transistors Instead of Tubes in '56, April 28, 1955, page

[38] Horowitz, Paul; Wineld Hill (1989). The Art of Electronics (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 115. ISBN

[20] Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1955, page A20, Article:

Chrysler Announces New Transistor Radio

[39] W. M. C. Sansen (2006). Analog design essentials. New

York ; Berlin: Springer. p. 0152, p. 28. ISBN 0-38725746-2.

[21] Philco TechRep Division Bulletin, MayJune 1955, Volume 5 Number 3, page 28
[22] Saul Rosen (Jun 1991). PHILCO: Some Recollections
of the PHILCO TRANSAC S-2000 (Computer Science
Technical Reports / Purdue e-Pubs) (CSD-TR-91-051).
Purdue University. Here: page 2
[23] IEEE Spectrum, The Lost History of the Transistor, Author: Michael Riordan, May 2004, pp 48-49
[24] J. Chelikowski, Introduction: Silicon in all its Forms,
Silicon: evolution and future of a technology (Editors: P.
Siert, E. F. Krimmel), p.1, Springer, 2004 ISBN 3-54040546-1.
[25] Grant McFarland, Microprocessor design: a practical
guide from design planning to manufacturing, p.10,
McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006 ISBN 0-07-145951-0.
[26] W. Heywang, K. H. Zaininger, Silicon: The Semiconductor Material, Silicon: evolution and future of a
technology (Editors: P. Siert, E. F. Krimmel), p.36,
Springer, 2004 ISBN 3-540-40546-1.
[27] Robert W. Price (2004). Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. p. 42. ISBN
[28] "Milestones:Invention of the First Transistor at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., 1947. IEEE Global History
Network. IEEE. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
[29] FETs/MOSFETs: Smaller apps push up surface-mount

[40] IGBT Module 5SNA 2400E170100 (PDF). Retrieved

June 30, 2012.
[41] Zhong Yuan Chang, Willy M. C. Sansen, Low-Noise
Wide-Band Ampliers in Bipolar and CMOS Technologies,
page 31, Springer, 1991 ISBN 0792390962.
[42] Single Electron Transistors. Snow.stanford.edu. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[43] Sanders, Robert (June 28, 2005). Nanouidic transistor,
the basis of future chemical processors. Berkeley.edu.
Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[44] The return of the vacuum tube?
[45] Clive TEC Transistors Japanese Industrial Standards.
Clivetec.0catch.com. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[46] Datasheet for BC549, with A,B and C gain groupings
(PDF). Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[47] Datasheet for BUK854-800A (800volt IGBT)" (PDF).
Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[48] Richard Freemans HP Part numbers Crossreference.
Hpmuseum.org. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[49] TransistorDiode Cross Reference H.P. Part Numbers
to JEDEC (pdf)
[50] CV Device Cross-reference by Andy Lake. Qsl.net. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
[51] A.S. Sedra and K.C. Smith (2004). Microelectronic circuits (Fifth ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. pp.
397 and Figure 5.17. ISBN 0-19-514251-9.



[52] Jhonathan P. Rojas, Galo A. Torres Sevilla, and Muhammad M. Hussain. Can We Build a Truly High Performance Computer Which is Flexible and Transparent?".
[53] Kan Zhang, Jung-Hun Seo1, Weidong Zhou and Zhenqiang Ma. Fast exible electronics using transferrable
silicon nanomembranes. 2012.
[54] Lisa Zyga. Carbon nanotube transistors could lead to inexpensive, exible electronics. 2011.


Further reading


The Bell Systems Memorial on Transistors

IEEE Global History Network, The Transistor and
Portable Electronics. All about the history of transistors and integrated circuits.
Transistorized. Historical and technical information
from the Public Broadcasting Service
This Month in Physics History: November 17 to December 23, 1947: Invention of the First Transistor.
From the American Physical Society
50 Years of the Transistor. From Science Friday, December 12, 1997

Amos S W & James M R (1999). Principles of Transistor Circuits. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0Pinouts

Bacon, W. Stevenson (1968). The Transistors

Common transistor pinouts
20th Anniversary: How Germanium And A Bit of
Wire Changed The World. Bonnier Corp.: Popular Science, retrieved from Google Books 2009-03- Datasheets
22 (Bonnier Corporation) 192 (6): 8084. ISSN
Charts showing many characteristics and links to
most datasheets for 2N, 2SA, 2SB. 2SC, 2SD, 2SH Horowitz, Paul & Hill, Wineld (1989). The Art of
K, and other numbers.
Electronics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521-37095-7.
Discrete Databook (Historical 1978), National
Semiconductor (now Texas Instruments)
Riordan, Michael & Hoddeson, Lillian (1998).
Crystal Fire. W.W Norton & Company Limited.
Discrete Databook (Historical 1982), SGS (now
ISBN 0-393-31851-6. The invention of the transisSTMicroelectronics)
tor & the birth of the information age
Small-Signal Transistor Databook (Historical
Warnes, Lionel (1998). Analogue and Digital Elec1984), Motorola
tronics. Macmillan Press Ltd. ISBN 0-333-65820 Discrete Databook (Historical 1985), Fairchild
Herbert F. Matar, An Inventor of the Transistor
has his moment. The New York Times. February
24, 2003.
Michael Riordan (2005). How Europe Missed
the Transistor. IEEE Spectrum 42 (11): 5257.
C. D. Renmore (1980). Silicon Chips and You.
ISBN 0-8253-0022-3.
Wiley-IEEE Press. Complete Guide to Semiconductor Devices, 2nd Edition.


External links

The CK722 Museum. Website devoted to the classic

hobbyist germanium transistor
The Transistor Educational content from Nobelprize.org
BBC: Building the digital age photo history of transistors



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