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OSE5414 - Fundamentals of Optoelectronic Devices

Operation, fabrication, applications, and limitations of various optoelectronic devices including quantum well semiconductor devices.

This course aims at covering the physics and engineering issues that define the basic semiconductor optoelectronics devices. We start off with the concept of an energy band representation for the electrons and holes in semiconductors and relate the energy of the free electrons to the electrical and optical properties. The behavior of p-n junctions and other barrier potentials in semiconductor structures are analyzed. These junctions are presented as simple instruments that enable electrical injection of electrons with excess potential energy for radiative emission of photons. In reverse, these same junctions cause photo-generated electrons to drift rapidly across the field to generate a photocurrent. Semiconductor optoelectronic devices such as the LED, the laser diode, the photodetector are presented as mere converters of electrical energy to photon energy and vice-versa. Optical modulators are devices for controlling the intensity or phase of an optical beam using an electrical input. The course contains a good mix of the electrical properties and optical properties of semiconductors and the interplay between photons and the free electrons within.

Pre-requisites:  Graduate Standing or Consent of Instructor


  • Semiconductor Optoelectronic Devices by Pallab Bhattacharya, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

Additional Reading (Optional)

  • Optoelectronics by E. Rosencher & B. Vinter, Cambridge, University Press.
  • Physics of Semiconductor Devices by S. Sze, New York, Wiley-Interscience.
  • Fundamentals of Photonics by B. Saleh, New York, Wiley.
  • Semiconductors by R. A. Smith, Cambridge, University Press.
  • and any other semiconductor books.

List of topics

Electronic processes in Semiconductors

  • Quantum mechanics and band theory
  • Band structure and carrier effective masses
  • Scattering and carrier mobilities
  • Semiconductors statistics
  • Carrier recombination

Optical properties of semiconductors

  • Absorption
  • Relationships between optical constants
  • Radiative transitions
  • Nonradiative recombination

Junction theory

  • P-N junctions
  • Depletion layer and junction capacitance
  • Forward and reverse biased processes
  • Contacts
  • Heterojunctions

Light emitting diodes

  • Electroluminescence
  • LED structures
  • Device characteristics including efficiency, spectral response, power output, light-current and current-voltage response and frequency response

Laser diodes

  • Waveguide theory
  • Population inversion, gain and lasing condition in a semiconductor
  • Laser current threshold and spectral characteristics
  • Operation of the junction laser diode
  • Heterojunction lasers
  • Quantum well lasers
  • Modulation and frequency response
  • DFB and DBR laser diodes, Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSELs), External Cavity Tunable Lasers


  • Photoconductors
  • Junction photodiodes
  • Avalanche photodiodes
  • High speed diodes
  • Metal-Semiconductor-Metal (MSM) diodes
  • Solar Cells
  • CCD sensors
  • Infrared
  • Detectors

Optoelectronic modulators and switches

  • Franz-Keldysh effect
  • Quantum confined Stark effect in quantum well semiconductors
  • Electro-absorption modulators and electro-refraction devices
  • Optical switching devices