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Bipolar junction transistor

1 Note on current direction

Junction transistor redirects here. For other uses, see

Junction transistor (disambiguation).
BJT redirects here. For the Japanese language prociency test, see Business Japanese Prociency Test.
BJT schematic symbols
A bipolar junction transistor (bipolar transistor or

By convention, the direction of current on diagrams is

shown as the direction that a positive charge would move.
This is called conventional current. However, current in
metal conductors is due to the ow of electrons which,
because they carry a negative charge, move in the opposite direction to conventional current. On the other hand,
inside a bipolar transistor, currents can be composed of
both positively charged holes and negatively charged electrons. In this article, current arrows are shown in the conventional direction, but labels for the movement of holes
and electrons show their actual direction inside the transistor.

2 Function
BJTs come in two types, or polarities, known as PNP
and NPN based on the doping types of the three main
terminal regions. An NPN transistor comprises two
semiconductor junctions that share a thin p-doped anode
region, and a PNP transistor comprises two semiconductor junctions that share a thin n-doped cathode region.












Typical individual BJT packages. From top to bottom: TO-3,

TO-126, TO-92, SOT-23
NPN BJT with forward-biased EB junction and reverse-biased
BC junction

BJT) is a type of transistor that uses both electron and

hole charge carriers. In contrast, unipolar transistors,
such as eld-eect transistors, only use one kind of charge
carrier. For their operation, BJTs use two junctions between two semiconductor types, n-type and p-type.

Charge ow in a BJT is due to diusion of charge carriers

across a junction between two regions of dierent charge
concentrations. The regions of a BJT are called emitter,
collector, and base.[note 1] A discrete transistor has three
leads for connection to these regions. Typically, the emitter region is heavily doped compared to the other two layers, whereas the majority charge carrier concentrations in
base and collector layers are about the same. By design,
most of the BJT collector current is due to the ow of
charges injected from a high-concentration emitter into
the base where they are minority carriers that diuse toward the collector, and so BJTs are classied as minoritycarrier devices.

BJTs are manufactured in two types, NPN and PNP, and

are available as individual components, or fabricated in
integrated circuits, often in large numbers. The basic
function of a BJT is to amplify current. This allows BJTs
to be used as ampliers or switches, giving them wide
applicability in electronic equipment, including computers, televisions, mobile phones, audio ampliers, industrial control, and radio transmitters.

In typical operation, the baseemitter junction is forward

biased, which means that the p-doped side of the junction is at a more positive potential than the n-doped side,
and the basecollector junction is reverse biased. In an
NPN transistor, when positive bias is applied to the base
emitter junction, the equilibrium is disturbed between
the thermally generated carriers and the repelling electric
eld of the n-doped emitter depletion region. This allows
thermally excited electrons to inject from the emitter into
the base region. These electrons diuse through the base
from the region of high concentration near the emitter towards the region of low concentration near the collector.
The electrons in the base are called minority carriers because the base is doped p-type, which makes holes the
majority carrier in the base.
To minimize the percentage of carriers that recombine
before reaching the collectorbase junction, the transistors base region must be thin enough that carriers can diffuse across it in much less time than the semiconductors
minority carrier lifetime. In particular, the thickness of
the base must be much less than the diusion length of the
electrons. The collectorbase junction is reverse-biased,
and so little electron injection occurs from the collector
to the base, but electrons that diuse through the base
towards the collector are swept into the collector by the
electric eld in the depletion region of the collectorbase
junction. The thin shared base and asymmetric collector
emitter doping are what dierentiates a bipolar transistor from two separate and oppositely biased diodes connected in series.


Voltage, current, and charge control


generally used in circuit design and analysis.

In analog circuit design, the current-control view is sometimes used because it is approximately linear. That is, the
collector current is approximately F times the base current. Some basic circuits can be designed by assuming
that the emitterbase voltage is approximately constant,
and that collector current is beta times the base current.
However, to accurately and reliably design production
BJT circuits, the voltage-control (for example, Ebers
Moll) model is required.[1] The voltage-control model requires an exponential function to be taken into account,
but when it is linearized such that the transistor can be
modeled as a transconductance, as in the EbersMoll
model, design for circuits such as dierential ampliers
again becomes a mostly linear problem, so the voltagecontrol view is often preferred. For translinear circuits,
in which the exponential IV curve is key to the operation,
the transistors are usually modeled as voltage-controlled
current sources whose transconductance is proportional
to their collector current. In general, transistor-level circuit design is performed using SPICE or a comparable
analog circuit simulator, so model complexity is usually
not of much concern to the designer.

2.2 Turn-on, turn-o, and storage delay

The bipolar transistor exhibits a few delay characteristics when turning on and o. Most transistors, and especially power transistors, exhibit long base-storage times
that limit maximum frequency of operation in switching
applications. One method for reducing this storage time
is by using a Baker clamp.

The collectoremitter current can be viewed as being

controlled by the baseemitter current (current control), 2.3 Transistor parameters: alpha () and
beta ()
or by the baseemitter voltage (voltage control). These
views are related by the currentvoltage relation of the
baseemitter junction, which is just the usual exponen- The proportion of electrons able to cross the base and
tial currentvoltage curve of a p-n junction (diode).[1]
reach the collector is a measure of the BJT eciency.
The heavy doping of the emitter region and light dopThe physical explanation for collector current is the con[1][2][3] ing of the base region causes many more electrons to be
centration of minority carriers in the base region.
injected from the emitter into the base than holes to be
Due to low level injection (in which there are much
fewer excess carriers than normal majority carriers) the injected from the base into the emitter.
ambipolar transport rates (in which the excess majority The common-emitter current gain is represented by F or
and minority carriers ow at the same rate) is in eect the h-parameter hFE; it is approximately the ratio of the
determined by the excess minority carriers.
DC collector current to the DC base current in forwardDetailed transistor models of transistor action, such as active region. It is typically greater than 50 for smallthe GummelPoon model, account for the distribution signal transistors but can be smaller in transistors designed
of this charge explicitly to explain transistor behaviour for high-power applications.
more exactly.[4] The charge-control view easily handles
phototransistors, where minority carriers in the base region are created by the absorption of photons, and handles the dynamics of turn-o, or recovery time, which
depends on charge in the base region recombining. However, because base charge is not a signal that is visible at
the terminals, the current- and voltage-control views are

Another important parameter is the common-base current gain, F. The common-base current gain is approximately the gain of current from emitter to collector in the
forward-active region. This ratio usually has a value close
to unity; between 0.980 and 0.998. It is less than unity
due to recombination of charge carriers as they cross the
base region.



Alpha and beta are more precisely related by the follow- operation. The reason the emitter is heavily doped is to
ing identities (NPN transistor):
increase the emitter injection eciency: the ratio of carriers injected by the emitter to those injected by the base.
For high current gain, most of the carriers injected into
the emitterbase junction must come from the emitter.
F = ,
F =
F =
F =
1 + F
1 F



Die of a KSY34 high-frequency NPN transistor. Bond wires connect to the base and emitter

Simplied cross section of a planar NPN bipolar junction transistor

The low-performance lateral bipolar transistors sometimes used in CMOS processes are sometimes designed
symmetrically, that is, with no dierence between forward and backward operation.

A BJT consists of three dierently doped semiconductor

regions: the emitter region, the base region and the collector region. These regions are, respectively, p type, n type
and p type in a PNP transistor, and n type, p type and n
type in an NPN transistor. Each semiconductor region
is connected to a terminal, appropriately labeled: emitter
(E), base (B) and collector (C).

Small changes in the voltage applied across the base

emitter terminals cause the current between the emitter
and the collector to change signicantly. This eect can
be used to amplify the input voltage or current. BJTs
can be thought of as voltage-controlled current sources,
but are more simply characterized as current-controlled
current sources, or current ampliers, due to the low
The base is physically located between the emitter and the impedance at the base.
collector and is made from lightly doped, high-resistivity
Early transistors were made from germanium but most
material. The collector surrounds the emitter region,
modern BJTs are made from silicon. A signicant minormaking it almost impossible for the electrons injected
ity are also now made from gallium arsenide, especially
into the base region to escape without being collected,
for very high speed applications (see HBT, below).
thus making the resulting value of very close to unity,
and so, giving the transistor a large . A cross-section
view of a BJT indicates that the collectorbase junction
3.1 NPN
has a much larger area than the emitterbase junction.
The bipolar junction transistor, unlike other transistors, is
usually not a symmetrical device. This means that interchanging the collector and the emitter makes the transistor leave the forward active mode and start to operate in
reverse mode. Because the transistors internal structure
is usually optimized for forward-mode operation, interchanging the collector and the emitter makes the values
of and in reverse operation much smaller than those
in forward operation; often the of the reverse mode
is lower than 0.5. The lack of symmetry is primarily
due to the doping ratios of the emitter and the collector. The emitter is heavily doped, while the collector is
lightly doped, allowing a large reverse bias voltage to be
applied before the collectorbase junction breaks down.
The collectorbase junction is reverse biased in normal

NPN is one of the two types of bipolar transistors, consisting of a layer of P-doped semiconductor (the base)
between two N-doped layers. A small current entering
the base is amplied to produce a large collector and
emitter current. That is, when there is a positive potential
dierence measured from the emitter of an NPN transistor to its base (i.e., when the base is high relative to the
emitter) as well as positive potential dierence measured
from the base to the collector, the transistor becomes active. In this on state, charge ows between the collector and emitter of the transistor. Most of the current is
carried by electrons moving from emitter to collector as
minority carriers in the P-type base region. To allow for
greater current and faster operation, most bipolar transistors used today are NPN because electron mobility is


electric eld and carriers will be generated. They should

ow towards the base junction, but the base part is very
thin and has low conductivity. The reverse-biased collector base part has generated holes. Thus, due to the electric
eld, carriers or electrons get pulled by the holes.
The arrows in the NPN and PNP transistor symbols are
on the emitter legs and point in the direction of the
conventional current when the device is in forward active
A mnemonic device for the PNP transistor symbol is
"pointing in (proudly/permanently)", based on the arrows
in the symbol and the letters in the name.[6]

3.3 Heterojunction bipolar transistor

higher than hole mobility.

A mnemonic device for the NPN transistor symbol is "not
pointing in", based on the arrows in the symbol and the
letters in the name.[5]



The symbol of an NPN BJT. A mnemonic for the symbol is "not

pointing in".


Bands in graded heterojunction NPN bipolar transistor. Barriers

indicated for electrons to move from emitter to base, and for holes
to be injected backward from base to emitter; also, grading of
bandgap in base assists electron transport in base region; light
colors indicate depleted regions.

The heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) is an improvement of the BJT that can handle signals of very high
frequencies up to several hundred GHz. It is common in
modern ultrafast circuits, mostly RF systems.[7]

The symbol of a PNP BJT. A mnemonic for the symbol is "points
in proudly.

The other type of BJT is the PNP, consisting of a layer of

N-doped semiconductor between two layers of P-doped
material. A small current leaving the base is amplied
in the collector output. That is, a PNP transistor is on
when its base is pulled low relative to the emitter. In a
PNP transistor, emitter-base region is forward biased, so

Heterojunction transistors have dierent semiconductors for the elements of the transistor. Usually the emitter
is composed of a larger bandgap material than the base.
The gure shows that this dierence in bandgap allows
the barrier for holes to inject backward from the base
into the emitter, denoted in the gure as , to be made
large, while the barrier for electrons to inject into the base
is made low. This barrier arrangement helps reduce
minority carrier injection from the base when the emitterbase junction is under forward bias, and thus reduces base
current and increases emitter injection eciency.
The improved injection of carriers into the base allows
the base to have a higher doping level, resulting in lower
resistance to access the base electrode. In the more traditional BJT, also referred to as homojunction BJT, the
eciency of carrier injection from the emitter to the base
is primarily determined by the doping ratio between the
emitter and base, which means the base must be lightly
doped to obtain high injection eciency, making its re-




region, a bipolar transistor goes into reverse-active

mode. In this mode, the emitter and collector regions switch roles. Because most BJTs are designed
to maximize current gain in forward-active mode,
the F in inverted mode is several times smaller
(23 times for the ordinary germanium transistor).
This transistor mode is seldom used, usually being
considered only for failsafe conditions and some
types of bipolar logic. The reverse bias breakdown
voltage to the base may be an order of magnitude
lower in this region.
Saturation With both junctions forward-biased, a BJT
is in saturation mode and facilitates high current
conduction from the emitter to the collector (or the
other direction in the case of NPN, with negatively
charged carriers owing from emitter to collector).
This mode corresponds to a logical on, or a closed

Cut-o In cut-o, biasing conditions opposite of saturation (both junctions reverse biased) are present.
There is very little current, which corresponds to a
logical o, or an open switch.
sistance relatively high. In addition, higher doping in the
base can improve gures of merit like the Early voltage
Avalanche breakdown region
by lessening base narrowing.
Symbol for NPN Bipolar Transistor with current ow direction.

The grading of composition in the base, for example,

by progressively increasing the amount of germanium in
a SiGe transistor, causes a gradient in bandgap in the
neutral base, denoted in the gure by G, providing a
built-in eld that assists electron transport across the
base. That drift component of transport aids the normal diusive transport, increasing the frequency response
of the transistor by shortening the transit time across the
Two commonly used HBTs are silicongermanium and
aluminum gallium arsenide, though a wide variety of
semiconductors may be used for the HBT structure. HBT
structures are usually grown by epitaxy techniques like The relationship between IC , UCE and IB
The modes of operation can be described in terms of the
applied voltages (this description applies to NPN transistors; polarities are reversed for PNP transistors):
4 Regions of operation
Bipolar transistors have ve distinct regions of operation, Forward-active Base higher than emitter, collector
higher than base (in this mode the collector current
dened by BJT junction biases.
is proportional to base current by F ).
Forward-active (or simply active) The baseemitter Saturation Base higher than emitter, but collector is not
junction is forward biased and the basecollector
higher than base.
junction is reverse biased. Most bipolar transistors
are designed to aord the greatest common-emitter Cut-o Base lower than emitter, but collector is higher
than base. It means the transistor is not letting concurrent gain, F, in forward-active mode. If this is
ventional current go through from collector to emitthe case, the collectoremitter current is approxiter.
mately proportional to the base current, but many
times larger, for small base current variations.
Reverse-active Base lower than emitter, collector lower
Reverse-active (or inverse-active or inverted) By rethan base: reverse conventional current goes through
versing the biasing conditions of the forward-active


In terms of junction biasing: (reverse biased base the base, making a current through the base connection to
collector junction means V < 0 for NPN, opposite for form the base current, IB. As shown in the diagram, the
emitter current, IE, is the total transistor current, which
Although these regions are well dened for suciently is the sum of the other terminal currents, (i.e., IE = IB +
large applied voltage, they overlap somewhat for small IC).
(less than a few hundred millivolts) biases. For example,
in the typical grounded-emitter conguration of an NPN
BJT used as a pulldown switch in digital logic, the o
state never involves a reverse-biased junction because the
base voltage never goes below ground; nevertheless the
forward bias is close enough to zero that essentially no
current ows, so this end of the forward active region can
be regarded as the cuto region.


In the diagram, the arrows representing current point in

the direction of conventional current the ow of electrons is in the opposite direction of the arrows because
electrons carry negative electric charge. In active mode,
the ratio of the collector current to the base current is
called the DC current gain. This gain is usually 100 or
more, but robust circuit designs do not depend on the exact value (for example see op-amp). The value of this
gain for DC signals is referred to as hFE , and the value
of this gain for small signals is referred to as hfe . That is,
Active-mode NPN transistors in cir- when a small change in the currents occurs, and sucient
time has passed for the new condition to reach a steady
state hfe is the ratio of the change in collector current to
the change in base current. The symbol is used for both
hFE and hfe .[9]





The emitter current is related to VBE exponentially. At

room temperature, an increase in VBE by approximately
60 mV increases the emitter current by a factor of 10.
Because the base current is approximately proportional to
the collector and emitter currents, they vary in the same

4.2 Active-mode PNP transistors in circuits


Structure and use of NPN transistor.

Arrow according to


The diagram shows a schematic representation of an
NPN transistor connected to two voltage sources. To
make the transistor conduct appreciable current (on the
order of 1 mA) from C to E, VBE must be above a minimum value sometimes referred to as the cut-in voltage.
The cut-in voltage is usually about 650 mV for silicon
BJTs at room temperature but can be dierent depending
on the type of transistor and its biasing. This applied voltage causes the lower P-N junction to 'turn on', allowing a
ow of electrons from the emitter into the base. In active
mode, the electric eld existing between base and collector (caused by VCE) will cause the majority of these Structure and use of PNP transistor
electrons to cross the upper P-N junction into the collector to form the collector current IC. The remainder of the The diagram shows a schematic representation of a PNP
electrons recombine with holes, the majority carriers in transistor connected to two voltage sources. To make the


Early manufacturing techniques

transistor conduct appreciable current (on the order of 1

mA) from E to C, VEB must be above a minimum value
sometimes referred to as the cut-in voltage. The cut-in
voltage is usually about 650 mV for silicon BJTs at room
temperature but can be dierent depending on the type of
transistor and its biasing. This applied voltage causes the
upper P-N junction to 'turn-on' allowing a ow of holes
from the emitter into the base. In active mode, the electric eld existing between the emitter and the collector
(caused by VCE ) causes the majority of these holes to
cross the lower p-n junction into the collector to form
the collector current IC . The remainder of the holes recombine with electrons, the majority carriers in the base,
making a current through the base connection to form the
base current, IB . As shown in the diagram, the emitter
current, IE , is the total transistor current, which is the
sum of the other terminal currents (i.e., IE = IB + IC).
In the diagram, the arrows representing current point in
the direction of conventional current the ow of holes
is in the same direction of the arrows because holes carry
positive electric charge. In active mode, the ratio of the
collector current to the base current is called the DC current gain. This gain is usually 100 or more, but robust
circuit designs do not depend on the exact value. The
value of this gain for DC signals is referred to as hFE ,
and the value of this gain for AC signals is referred to
as hfe . However, when there is no particular frequency
range of interest, the symbol is used.
The emitter current is related to VEB exponentially. At
room temperature, an increase in VEB by approximately
60 mV increases the emitter current by a factor of 10.
Because the base current is approximately proportional to
the collector and emitter currents, they vary in the same


The bipolar point-contact transistor was invented in December 1947[10] at the Bell Telephone Laboratories by
John Bardeen and Walter Brattain under the direction of
William Shockley. The junction version known as the
bipolar junction transistor (BJT), invented by Shockley in
1948,[11] was for three decades the device of choice in the
design of discrete and integrated circuits. Nowadays, the
use of the BJT has declined in favor of CMOS technology
in the design of digital integrated circuits. The incidental
low performance BJTs inherent in CMOS ICs, however,
are often utilized as bandgap voltage reference, silicon
bandgap temperature sensor and to handle electrostatic


Germanium transistors

The germanium transistor was more common in the

1950s and 1960s, and while it exhibits a lower cut-o

voltage, typically around 0.2 V, making it more suitable
for some applications, it also has a greater tendency to
exhibit thermal runaway.

5.2 Early manufacturing techniques

Various methods of manufacturing bipolar transistors
were developed.[12]
5.2.1 Bipolar transistors
Point-contact transistor rst transistor ever constructed (December 1947), a bipolar transistor, limited commercial use due to high cost and noise.
Tetrode point-contact transistor Pointcontact transistor having two emitters. It
became obsolete in the middle 1950s.
Junction transistors
Grown-junction transistor rst bipolar junction transistor made.[13] Invented by William
Shockley at Bell Labs on June 23, 1948.[14]
Patent led on June 26, 1948.
Alloy-junction transistor emitter and collector alloy beads fused to base. Developed at
General Electric and RCA[15] in 1951.
Micro-alloy transistor (MAT) high
speed type of alloy junction transistor.
Developed at Philco.[16]
Micro-alloy diused transistor (MADT)
high speed type of alloy junction transistor, speedier than MAT, a diusedbase transistor. Developed at Philco.
Post-alloy diused transistor (PADT)
high speed type of alloy junction transistor, speedier than MAT, a diused-base
transistor. Developed at Philips.
Tetrode transistor high speed variant of
grown-junction transistor[17] or alloy junction
transistor[18] with two connections to base.
Surface-barrier transistor high-speed metal
barrier junction transistor. Developed at
Philco[19] in 1953.[20]
Drift-eld transistor high speed bipolar junction transistor. Invented by Herbert Kroemer[21][22] at the Central Bureau of Telecommunications Technology of the German Postal
Service, in 1953.
Spacistor circa 1957.
Diusion transistor modern type bipolar
junction transistor. Prototypes[23] developed
at Bell Labs in 1954.
Diused-base transistor rst implementation of diusion transistor.


Mesa transistor Developed at Texas Instruments in 1957.
Planar transistor the bipolar junction transistor that made mass-produced
monolithic integrated circuits possible.
Developed by Jean Hoerni[24] at Fairchild
in 1959.

about 100 times its original strength. Networks of transistors are used to make powerful ampliers with many
dierent applications. In the discussion below, focus is
on the NPN bipolar transistor. In the NPN transistor in
what is called active mode, the baseemitter voltage VBE
and collectorbase voltage VCB are positive, forward biasing the emitterbase junction and reverse-biasing the
collectorbase junction. In the active mode of operation,
Epitaxial transistor[25] a bipolar junction electrons are injected from the forward biased n-type
transistor made using vapor phase deposition. emitter region into the p-type base where they diuse as
See epitaxy. Allows very precise control of minority carriers to the reverse-biased n-type collector
doping levels and gradients.
and are swept away by the electric eld in the reversebiased collectorbase junction. For a gure describing
forward and reverse bias, see semiconductor diodes.

Theory and modeling

6.1 Large-signal models





In 1954, Jewell James Ebers and John L. Moll introduced

their mathematical model of transistor currents:[26]



6.1.1 EbersMoll model




Band diagram for NPN transistor at equilibrium
















EbersMoll model for an NPN transistor[27] * IB, IC, IE: base,

collector and emitter currents * ICD, IED: collector and emitter diode currents * F, R: forward and reverse common-base
current gains

Band diagram for NPN transistor in active mode, showing injection of electrons from emitter to base, and their overshoot into the

Transistors can be thought of as two diodes (PN junctions) sharing a common region that minority carriers can
move through. A PNP BJT will function like two diodes
that share an N-type cathode region, and the NPN like
two diodes sharing a P-type anode region. Connecting
two diodes with wires will not make a transistor, since
minority carriers will not be able to get from one PN
junction to the other through the wire.







Both types of BJT function by letting a small current input

to the base control an amplied output from the collecB
tor. The result is that the transistor makes a good switch
that is controlled by its base input. The BJT also makes a EbersMoll model for a PNP transistor
good amplier, since it can multiply a weak input signal to



Large-signal models


The unapproximated EbersMoll equations used to describe the three currents in any operating region are given
below. These equations are based on the transport model
for a bipolar junction transistor.[28]






Approximated EbersMoll model for an NPN transistor in the

forward active mode. The collector diode is reverse-biased so
ICD is virtually zero. Most of the emitter diode current (F is
nearly 1) is drawn from the collector, providing the amplication
of the base current.

The DC emitter and collector currents in active mode

are well modeled by an approximation to the EbersMoll
IE = IES e VT 1
IB = (1 F ) IE
The base internal current is mainly by diusion (see Ficks
law) and


1 ( VVBC
e T 1
1 ( VVBC
e VT 1 +
e T 1
iB = IS
1 ( VVBE
iE = IS e VT e VT +
e T 1

iC = IS



e VT e VT

iC is the collector current
iB is the base current
iE is the emitter current
F is the forward common emitter current gain (20
to 500)
R is the reverse common emitter current gain (0 to
IS is the reverse saturation current (on the order of
1015 to 1012 amperes)
VT is the thermal voltage (approximately 26 mV at
300 K room temperature).
VBE is the baseemitter voltage

Jn (base) =

qDn nbo e VT


VBC is the basecollector voltage

Base-width modulation Main article: Early Eect

VT is the thermal voltage kT /q (approximately 26

mV at 300 K room temperature).

As the collectorbase voltage ( VCB = VCE VBE ) varies,

the collectorbase depletion region varies in size. An increase in the collectorbase voltage, for example, causes
IE is the emitter current
a greater reverse bias across the collectorbase junction,
increasing the collectorbase depletion region width, and
IC is the collector current
decreasing the width of the base. This variation in base
F is the common base forward short-circuit current width often is called the "Early eect" after its discoverer
gain (0.98 to 0.998)
James M. Early.
IES is the reverse saturation current of the base Narrowing of the base width has two consequences:
emitter diode (on the order of 1015 to 1012 amperes)
There is a lesser chance for recombination within the
smaller base region.
VBE is the baseemitter voltage
The charge gradient is increased across the base,
Dn is the diusion constant for electrons in the pand consequently, the current of minority carriers
type base
injected across the emitter junction increases.
W is the base width
Both factors increase the collector or output current of
The and forward parameters are as described previ- the transistor in response to an increase in the collector
ously. A reverse is sometimes included in the model.
base voltage.



6.1.2 GummelPoon charge-control model





The GummelPoon model[29] is a detailed chargecontrolled model of BJT dynamics, which has been
adopted and elaborated by others to explain transistor dynamics in greater detail than the terminal-based models
typically do.[30] This model also includes the dependence
of transistor -values upon the direct current levels in the
transistor, which are assumed current-independent in the
EbersMoll model.[31]

6.2 Small-signal models

6.2.1 hybrid-pi model




B ib




ic C


Top: NPN base width for low collector-base reverse bias; Bottom:
narrower NPN base width for large collector-base reverse bias.
Hashed regions are depleted regions.



Hybrid-pi model

In the forward-active region, the Early eect modies the

collector current ( iC ) and the forward common emitter Main article: hybrid-pi model
current gain ( F ) as given by:
The hybrid-pi model is a popular circuit model used for
analyzing the small signal behavior of bipolar junction
and eld eect transistors. Sometimes it is also called
iC = IS e VT 1 +
Giacoletto model because it was introduced by L.J. Gia(
coletto in 1969. The model can be quite accurate for lowF = F 0 1 +
frequency circuits and can easily be adapted for higherVA
frequency circuits with the addition of appropriate interVA
ro =
electrode capacitances and other parasitic elements.

6.2.2 h-parameter model
VCE is the collectoremitter voltage
VA is the Early voltage (15 V to 150 V)

1 ii

F 0 is forward common-emitter current gain when

VCB = 0 V
ro is the output impedance
IC is the collector current

io 2




hox Vo

Punchthrough When the basecollector voltage

reaches a certain (device-specic) value, the base
collector depletion region boundary meets the base
emitter depletion region boundary. When in this state Generalized h-parameter model of an NPN BJT.
the transistor eectively has no base. The device thus Replace x with e, b or c for CE, CB and CC topologies respectively.
loses all gain when in this state.


Industry models

Another model commonly used to analyze BJT circuits

is the h-parameter model, closely related to the hybrid-pi
model and the y-parameter two-port, but using input current and output voltage as independent variables, rather
than input and output voltages. This two-port network is
particularly suited to BJTs as it lends itself easily to the
analysis of circuit behaviour, and may be used to develop
further accurate models. As shown, the term, x, in the
model represents a dierent BJT lead depending on the
topology used. For common-emitter mode the various
symbols take on the specic values as:
Terminal 1, base
Terminal 2, collector
Terminal 3 (common), emitter; giving x to be e
i, base current (i )
i, collector current (i )
V , base-to-emitter voltage (VBE)
V, collector-to-emitter voltage (VCE)
and the h-parameters are given by:

Etymology of hFE The h refers to its being an hparameter, a set of parameters named for their origin in
a hybrid equivalent circuit model. F is from forward current amplication also called the current gain. E refers to
the transistor operating in a common emitter (CE) conguration. Capital letters used in the subscript indicate that
hFE refers to a direct current circuit.

6.3 Industry models

The GummelPoon SPICE model is often used, but it
suers from several limitations. These have been addressed in various more advanced models: Mextram,
VBIC, HICUM, Modella.[32][33][34][35]

7 Applications
The BJT remains a device that excels in some applications, such as discrete circuit design, due to the very
wide selection of BJT types available, and because of its
high transconductance and output resistance compared to
The BJT is also the choice for demanding analog circuits,
especially for very-high-frequency applications, such as
radio-frequency circuits for wireless systems.

h = h, the input impedance of the transistor (cor- 7.1 High speed digital logic
responding to the base resistance r ).
Emitter-coupled logic (ECL) use BJTs.
h = h, represents the dependence of the transistors IBVBE curve on the value of VCE. It is usually very small and is often neglected (assumed to be

Bipolar transistors can be combined with MOSFETs in an

integrated circuit by using a BiCMOS process of wafer
fabrication to create circuits that take advantage of the
application strengths of both types of transistor.

h = h , the current-gain of the transistor. This parameter is often specied as hFE or the DC current- 7.2 Ampliers
gain (DC) in datasheets.
Main article: Electronic amplier
h = 1/h, the output impedance of transistor. The
parameter h usually corresponds to the output ad- The transistor parameters and characterizes the
mittance of the bipolar transistor and has to be in- current gain of the BJT. It is this gain that allows BJTs
verted to convert it to an impedance.
to be used as the building blocks of electronic ampliers.
The three main BJT amplier topologies are:
As shown, the h-parameters have lower-case subscripts
Common emitter
and hence signify AC conditions or analyses. For DC
conditions they are specied in upper-case. For the CE
Common base
topology, an approximate h-parameter model is commonly used which further simplies the circuit analysis.
Common collector
For this the h and h parameters are neglected (that
is, they are set to innity and zero, respectively). The
h-parameter model as shown is suited to low-frequency, 7.3 Temperature sensors
small-signal analysis. For high-frequency analyses the
inter-electrode capacitances that are important at high Main article: Silicon bandgap temperature sensor
frequencies must be added.



Because of the known temperature and current dependence of the forward-biased baseemitter junction voltage, the BJT can be used to measure temperature by subtracting two voltages at two dierent bias currents in a
known ratio.[36]


10 Notes
[1] See point-contact transistor for the historical origin of
these names.

11 References

Logarithmic converters

Because baseemitter voltage varies as the logarithm

of the baseemitter and collectoremitter currents, a
BJT can also be used to compute logarithms and antilogarithms. A diode can also perform these nonlinear
functions but the transistor provides more circuit exibility.


Exposure of the transistor to ionizing radiation causes

radiation damage. Radiation causes a buildup of 'defects in the base region that act as recombination centers.
The resulting reduction in minority carrier lifetime causes
gradual loss of gain of the transistor.
Power BJTs are subject to a failure mode called
secondary breakdown, in which excessive current and
normal imperfections in the silicon die cause portions
of the silicon inside the device to become disproportionately hotter than the others. The electrical resistivity of
doped silicon, like other semiconductors, has a negative
temperature coecient, meaning that it conducts more
current at higher temperatures. Thus, the hottest part of
the die conducts the most current, causing its conductivity
to increase, which then causes it to become progressively
hotter again, until the device fails internally. The thermal
runaway process associated with secondary breakdown,
once triggered, occurs almost instantly and may catastrophically damage the transistor package.

[1] Paul Horowitz and Wineld Hill (1989). The Art of Electronics (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780-521-37095-0.
[2] Juin Jei Liou and Jiann S. Yuan (1998). Semiconductor
Device Physics and Simulation. Springer. ISBN 0-30645724-5.
[3] General Electric (1962). Transistor Manual (6th ed.). p.
12. If the principle of space charge neutrality is used in
the analysis of the transistor, it is evident that the collector
current is controlled by means of the positive charge (hole
concentration) in the base region. ... When a transistor
is used at higher frequencies, the fundamental limitation
is the time it takes the carriers to diuse across the base
region... (same in 4th and 5th editions)
[4] Paolo Antognetti and Giuseppe Massobrio (1993).
Semiconductor Device Modeling with Spice. McGrawHill
Professional. ISBN 0-07-134955-3.
[5] Alphonse J. Sistino (1996). Essentials of electronic circuitry. CRC Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-8247-9693-8.
[6] Alphonse J. Sistino (1996). Essentials of electronic circuitry. CRC Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-8247-9693-8.
[7] D.V. Morgan, Robin H. Williams (Editors) (1991).
Physics and Technology of Heterojunction Devices. London: Institution of Electrical Engineers (Peter Peregrinus
Ltd.). ISBN 0-86341-204-1.
[8] Peter Ashburn (2003). SiGe Heterojunction Bipolar Transistors. New York: Wiley. Chapter 10. ISBN 0-47084838-3.
[9] Paul Horowitz and Wineld Hill (1989). The Art of Elec-

If the emitter-base junction is reverse biased into

tronics (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 62
avalanche or Zener mode and charge ows for a short pe66. ISBN 978-0-521-37095-0.
riod of time, the current gain of the BJT will be perma[10] 1947: Invention of the Point-Contact Transistor - The
nently degraded.

Silicon Engine - Computer History Museum. Retrieved

August 10, 2016.

See also

[11] 1948: Conception of the Junction Transistor - The Silicon Engine - Computer History Museum. Retrieved August 10, 2016.

Bipolar transistor biasing

[12] Third case study the solid state advent (PDF)

Gummel plot

[13] Transistor Museum, Historic Transistor Photo Gallery,

Bell Labs Type M1752

Technology CAD (TCAD)


[14] Morris, Peter Robin (1990). 4.2. A History of the World

Semiconductor Industry. IEE History of Technology Series 12. London: Peter Peregrinus Ltd. p. 29. ISBN


[15] Transistor Museum Photo Gallery RCA TA153. Retrieved August 10, 2016.


[16] High Speed Switching Transistor Handbook (2nd ed.). Motorola. 1963. p. 17.

[36] IC Temperature Sensors Find the Hot Spots - Application Note - Maxim. February 21, 2002.
Retrieved August 10, 2016.

[17] Transistor Museum, Historic Transistor Photo Gallery,

Western Electric 3N22
[18] The Tetrode Power Transistor PDF
[19] Transistor Museum Photo Gallery Philco A01 Germanium Surface Barrier Transistor. Retrieved August 10,
[20] Transistor Museum Photo Gallery Germanium Surface
Barrier Transistor. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
[21] Herbs Bipolar Transistors IEEE Transactions on Electron
Devices, vol. 48, no. 11, November 2001 PDF
[22] Inuence of Mobility and Lifetime Variations on DriftField Eects in Silicon-Junction Devices PDF
[23] Transistor Museum Photo Gallery Bell Labs Prototype
Diused Base Germanium Silicon Transistor. Retrieved
August 10, 2016.
[24] Transistor Museum Photo Gallery Fairchild 2N1613
Early Silicon Planar Transistor. Retrieved August 10,
[25] 1960: Epitaxial Deposition Process Enhances Transistor Performance - The Silicon Engine - Computer History
Museum. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
[26] J.J. Ebers and J.L Moll (1954) Large-signal behavior of
junction transistors, Proceedings of the Institute of Radio
Engineers, 42 (12) : 17611772.
[27] Adel S. Sedra and Kenneth C. Smith (1987). Microelectronic Circuits, second ed. p. 903. ISBN 0-03-007328-6.
[28] A.S. Sedra and K.C. Smith (2004). Microelectronic Circuits (5th ed.). New York: Oxford. Eqs. 4.1034.110, p.
305. ISBN 0-19-514251-9.
[29] H. K. Gummel and R. C. Poon, An integral charge control model of bipolar transistors, Bell Syst. Tech. J., vol.
49, pp. 827852, MayJune 1970
[30] Bipolar Junction Transistors.

Retrieved August 10,

[31] A.S. Sedra and K.C. Smith (2004). Microelectronic Circuits (5th ed.). New York: Oxford. p. 509. ISBN 0-19514251-9.
[33] Gennady Gildenblat, ed. (2010). Compact Modeling:
Principles, Techniques and Applications. Springer Science
& Business Media. Part II: Compact Models of Bipolar Junction Transistors, pp. 167-267 cover Mextram and
HiCuM in-depth. ISBN 978-90-481-8614-3.
[34] Michael Schrter (2010). Compact Hierarchical Bipolar
Transistor Modeling with Hicum. World Scientic. ISBN

12 External links
Simulation of a BJT in the Common Emitter Circuit
Lessons In Electric Circuits Bipolar Junction
Transistors (Note: this site shows current as a ow
of electrons, rather than the convention of showing
it as a ow of holes)
EncycloBEAMia Bipolar Junction Transistor
Characteristic curves
ENGI 242/ELEC 222: BJT Small Signal Models
Transistor Museum, Historic Transistor Timeline
ECE 327: Transistor Basics Summarizes simple
EbersMoll model of a bipolar transistor and gives
several common BJT circuits.
ECE 327: Procedures for Output Filtering Lab
Section 4 (Power Amplier) discusses design of
a BJT-Sziklai-pair-based class-AB current driver in
BJT Operation description for undergraduate and
rst year graduate students to describe the basic
principles of operation of Bipolar Junction Transistor.





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