Physics 120 - Circuits and Electronics

(Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.*)


The is a combined lecture and laboratory course. The lectures cover general principles in network theory, including conservation laws, feedback and linear systems analysis, and multi-stability, with a focus on applications to electronic circuits. They also include an introduction to the physics of semiconductor devices. The laboratories provide a means to learn practical aspects of circuit design, realization, and debugging.

The lectures take place in room 2622 York Hall, 8:00 to 9:20 AM on Tuesday and Thursday with noted exceptions. The Tuesday lecture is primarily devoted to a review of the upcoming laboratory excercise, while the Thursday lecture is primarily devoted to foundational material. There are twenty-two laboratory stations, split between rooms 3544 and 3574 Mayer Hall. There are two laboratory sessions, one on Tuesdays and the other on Wednesdays, that run from 3:30 to 7:30 PM. In addition, there is an open session from 3:30 to 7:30 PM on Thursdays.

Homework problems will be assigned on Monday and the solutions are due by midnight the following Sunday. They should be e-mailed as a single PDF through TED (; there is a scanner in the laboratory. The grade for homework will be based on the number of problems seriously attempted.

Students work in pairs in the laboratory. The laboratory report, submitted separately by each partner, should be self-contained, clearly written, and succinct. Include scanned, hand-drawn circuit diagram as well as hand-drawn plots, oscilloscope screen dumps, and Excel and/or Matlab plots. Present the circuit(s), your measurements, your analysis, and your conclusions. Contrast your results with theoretical expectations, as appropriate. The report is due by midnight of the following Sunday and should be e-mailed as a single PDF through TED. Please remember to put your name, the laboratory section, your partner's name, and the submission date on your report.

The course grade is based on laboratory work and reports (~60 %), homework (~10 %), midterm exam (~10 %) that is derived from homework, and a practical final exam (~20 %) that is derived from the laboratory exercises.

The majority of readings and homework problems are from the textbook, Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Architecture and Design) by Anant Agarwal and Jeffrey H. Lang, ISBN 1558607358 (8.5 Mb PDF). Handouts on the laborary exercises and auxillary material is posted below. Addtional textbooks are available in the laboratory. Lecture notes, which are meant solely as a guide to the topics covered as well as to delineate tedious algebraic manipulations, are posted prior to the lecture.

For Spring 2017 we are pleased to have Mr. Caleb Choban, Ms. Priscilla Daruvuri and Mr. Abhijeet Paumarthy as graduate student TAs, who will be present in both sections (Tu & We), and Mr. Yamen Mubarka, Mr. Kris Mackewicz, Ms. Debby Tran, and Mr. Elias Turner as undergraduate TAs (and past students in this class). Further, Mr. Choban and Mr. Paumarthy will grade the laboratory reports and examinations and Mr. Mackewicz will prepare the HW solutions, run a review section every Thursday from 6:00 to 8:00 PM in 5301 Mayer Hall, and answer questions on the HWs.

Working on laboratory 5 exercise

Running schedule for Spring 2017

Week 1 (3 April)
Laboratory: Instruments and DC circuits
Exercise 1 (0.6 Mb PDF)
Guide to the digital oscilloscope (0.2 Mb PDF)
Semilog (2 cycle) graph paper (0.1 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 1 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 4 Aprli, Lecture: Kirchhoff's laws, resistive circuits, Thevenin equivalents
Th 6 April, Lecture: Transient response of capacitor and inductor circuits
Time-domain analysis handout (0.1 Mb PDF)
Convolution integral in pictures (0.5 Mb PDF)
Reading: Chapter 2, pp. 53-89  
Homework: Exercise 2.8; Problems 2.5, 2.7, 2.8 and 2.11  
Homework solutions (0.1 Mb PDF)
Week 2 (10 April)
Laboratory: Capacitor circuits
Exercise 2 (1.4 Mb PDF)
Log-log (3 cycle) graph paper (0.1 Mb PDF)
Semilog (3 cycle) graph paper (0.1 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 2 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 11 April, Lecture: Impedance and steady-state response of reactive circuits
Frequency-domain analysis handout (0.1 Mb PDF)
Th 13 April, Lecture: Laplace transform method for circuit analysis
Laplace transform handout handout (0.7 Mb PDF)
Reading: Chapter 10, pp. 503-525 and 550-553; Chapter 13, pp. 732-740 with j = i = sqrt(-1)  
Homework: Exercises 10.4 and 10.6; problems on attached sheet (0.8 Mb PDF)
Homework solutions (2.0 Mb PDF)
Week 3 (17 April)
Laboratory: Harmonic analysis and diode circuits
Exercise 3 (0.6 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 3 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
RLC handout (0.2 Mb PDF)
Tu 18 April, Lecture: Harmonic analysis
Fourier series handout (0.1 Mb PDF)
Th 20 April, Lecture (Mr. Hiteshwar Rao): Diode circuits and physics
Diode fundamentals handout (0.3 Mb PDF)
Diode load-line analysis (0.6 Mb PDF)
Reading: Chapter 16, pp. 905-911 (Chapter 4, pp. 203-209 is optional)  
Homework: Exercises 4.4 & 4.7; Problem 4.4; Find the Fourier series
for the (even) pulse train defined, over the period T centered at t = 0,
by V(-T/2 < t < -T/4) = 0, V(-T/4 < t < T/4) = +1 Volt,
and V(T/4 < t < T/2) = 0.
Homework solutions (1.3 Mb PDF)
Week 4 (24 April)
Laboratory: Operational amplifiers: Basics
Exercise 4 (0.7 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 4 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 25 April, Lecture: Operational amplifier circuits
Op-amp handout (0.3 Mb PDF)
Th 27 April, Lecture: Generalized notion of negative feedback
Feedback handout (0.6 Mb PDF)
Positive feedback: Jimmy Hendrix playing into speaker during "Wild Thing" (starting at 3'25")
Reading: Chapter 15, pp. 837-859 (skip section 15.4.4 on pp. 855-857)  
Homework: Exercises 15.4, 15.14, 15.16 & 15.22; Problem 15.8  
Homework solutions (1.0 Mb PDF)
Week 5 (1 May)
Laboratory: Operational amplifiers: Advanced
Exercise 5 (0.6 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 5 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 2 May, Lecture: Special operational amplifier circuits
Op amp differentiator handout (0.8 Mb PDF)
Th 4 May, Lecture: Theory of field effect transistors
MOSFET physics tutorial (adapted from T. H. Lee) (0.3 Mb PDF)
Reading: Chapter 15, pp. 855-857 and 859-866  
Homework: Problems in handout on "Op-Amp Differentiator" and on attached sheet (0.2 Mb PDF)
Homework solutions (0.1 Mb PDF)
Week 6 (8 May)
Laboratory: Field effect transistors in the ohmic region
Exercise 6 (0.8 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 6 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 9 May, Lecture: Field effect transistor: Ohmic region
JFET Ohmic region handout (0.5 Mb PDF)
MOSFET and CMOS switch handout (0.6 Mb PDF)
Th 11 May, Midterm exam
Reading: Chapter 7, pp. 335-343, 386-387, and 285-286 with VT=VGS(off) and k = 2IDSS /VGS2(off)  
Homework: Exercises 7.3 & 7.4  
Homework solutions (0.5 Mb PDF)
Week 7 (15 May)
Laboratory: Field effect transistors: Active region
Exercise 7 (1.0 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 7 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 16 May, Lecture: Field effect transistors in the active region
JFET Active region handout (0.9 Mb PDF)
Th 18 May, No lecture
Reading: Chapter 7, pp. 344-349 and 358-363 with VT=VGS(off) and k = 2IDSS /VGS2(off)  
Homework: Problems 7.14, 7.15, 7.16 and 7.17  
Homework solutions (1.0 Mb PDF)
Week 8 (22 May)
Laboratory: Bipolar junction transistors
Exercise 8 (0.7 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 8 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 23 May, Lecture: Bipolar junction transistor basics and active zone circuits
Basics of NPN transistors and Active Zone circuits (2.7 Mb PDF)
Th 25 May, Lecture: Bipolar junction transistor amplifiers
BJT common emitter amplifier design (0.8 Mb PDF)
Reading: Chapter 7, pp. 370-381  
Homework: Exercise 7.8; Problems 7.18 and 7.19  
Homework solutions (1.0 Mb PDF)
Week 9 (29 May)
Laboratory: Positive and negative Feedback
Exercise 9 (0.9 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 9 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 30 May, Lecture: Oscillators / Positive feedback circuit
Relaxation oscillator handout (2.7 Mb PDF)
Schmidt-trigger handout (0.7 Mb PDF)
Th 1 June, Lecture: Boolean logic
Boolean basics (0.2 Mb PDF)
Transistor logic (0.1 Mb PDF)
Reading: Chapter 15, pp. 866-872  
Homework: Problems 15.34 & 15.35  
Homework solutions (0.7 Mb PDF)
Week 10 (5 June)
Laboratory: Digital circuits
Exercise 10 (1.7 Mb PDF)
State transition chart (0.1 Mb PDF)
Laboratory 10 Rubric (0.1 Mb PDF)
Tu 6 June, Lecture (Mr. Hiteshwar Rao) : Bistability and flip flop families
Th 8 June, "Fun" Lecture: Digital (electrons and interface potentials) versus neuronal (ions and entropic potentials) computing
Reading: Chapter 5, pp. 256-267  
Homework: Exercises 5.6 & 5.7  
Homework solutions (Z.Z Mb PDF)
Final Exam (1 hour practical exam on 15 June) (0.2 Mb PDF)

Demonstration of laboratory exercise

Data Sheets

Reading capaciter values (0.3 Mb PDF)
Reading resister values (0.1 Mb PDF)
Guide to decibels. Notes of Han Lin (0.1 Mb PDF)
1N914 diode (0.3 Mb PDF)
C503B light emitting diode (1.0 Mb PDF)
2N3906 PNP BJT (0.2 Mb PDF)
2N3904 NPN BJT (0.2 Mb PDF)
2N4401 medium power NPN BJT (0.5 Mb PDF)
BPV-11 NPN phototransistor (0.1 Mb PDF)
2N5485 N-channel JFET (0.3 Mb PDF)
2N7000 N-channel MOSFET (0.1 Mb PDF)
IRL510 power N-channel MOSFET (1.1 Mb PDF)
LF411 FET operational amplifier (0.5 Mb PDF)
LM358 dual FET operational amplifier (1.9 Mb PDF)
LM741 operational amplifier (0.4 Mb PDF)
LF311 comparator (0.5 Mb PDF)
LM311 comparator (1.7 Mb PDF)
DG400B dual CMOS analog switch (0.2 Mb PDF)
DG403 quad CMOS analog switch (0.3 Mb PDF)
7555 digital timer (0.3 Mb PDF)
74HC00 quad CMOS NAND gate (0.3 Mb PDF)
74HC74 dual CMOS D flip-flop (0.2 Mb PDF)
74HC175 quadCMOS D flip-flop (0.3 Mb PDF)
Microphone (0.3 Mb PDF)

Ordering Information

Components (0.1 Mb PDF)

Equipment Manuals

BK Precision 2831E bench voltmeter (1.2 Mb PDF)
GW Instek GPS 4303 quadriple power supply (2.7 Mb PDF)
GW Instek GAG-810 audio oscillator (1.8 Mb PDF)
Tektronix DPO2014B four channel 100 MHz oscilloscope (w/FFT) (6.9 Mb PDF)
Tektronix AFG2021 arbitrary function generator (3.4 Mb PDF)

Auxillary materials

Circuits; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (3.7 Mb PDF)
R-C circuit; notes of DK (2.1 Mb PDF)
R-L circuit; notes of DK (2.1 Mb PDF)
L-C circuit; notes of DK (2.1 Mb PDF)
Bode plots; notes of Harrison Wang (4.5 Mb PDF)
Fourier transforms; from Frederick & Carlson (0.5 Mb PDF)
Fourier series of full wave rectified sine wave; notes of DK (2.0 Mb PDF)
Complex Integrals; from Matthews & Walker (0.1 Mb PDF)
Power; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (0.1 Mb PDF)
Diodes; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (0.5 Mb PDF)
Semiconductors; from The Feynman Lectures (1.8 Mb PDF)
Operational amplifiers; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (0.6 Mb PDF)
Multi-stage filters; notes of DK (1.1 Mb PDF)
Transistors; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (1.1 Mb PDF)
Field effect transistors; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (1.4 Mb PDF)
Comparators & Schmidt triggers; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (0.2 Mb PDF)
Timers; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (0.5 Mb PDF)
FET switches; from Horowitz & Hill 2nd (0.9 Mb PDF)
Boolean identities (0.1 Mb PDF)

*Attributed to Benjamin Franklyn (1706-1790)