Saturday, October 2, 2010


As well as the Junction Field Effect Transistor, there is another type of Field Effect Transistor available whose Gate input is electrically insulated from the main current carrying channel and is therefore called an Insulated Gate Field Effect Transistor. The most common type of insulated gate FET or IGFET as it is sometimes called, is the Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor or MOSFET for short.
The MOSFET type of field effect transistor has a "Metal Oxide" gate (usually silicon dioxide commonly known as glass), which is electrically insulated from the main semiconductor N-channel or P-channel. This isolation of the controlling gate makes the input resistance of the MOSFET extremely high in the Mega-ohms region and almost infinite. As the gate terminal is isolated from the main current carrying channel ""NO current flows into the gate"" and like the JFET, the MOSFET also acts like a voltage controlled resistor. Also like the JFET, this very high input resistance can easily accumulate large static charges resulting in the MOSFET becoming easily damaged unless carefully handled or protected.

Basic MOSFET Structure and Symbol

Metal Oxide Semiconductor FET
We also saw previously that the gate of a JFET must be biased in such a way as to forward-bias the PN junction but in a MOSFET device no such limitations applies so it is possible to bias the gate in either polarity. This makes MOSFET's specially valuable as electronic switches or to make logic gates because with no bias they are normally non-conducting and the high gate resistance means that very little control current is needed. Both the P-channel and the N-channel MOSFET is available in two basic forms, the Enhancement type and the Depletion type.

Depletion-mode MOSFET

The Depletion-mode MOSFET, which is less common than the enhancement types is normally switched "ON" without a gate bias voltage but requires a gate to source voltage (Vgs) to switch the device "OFF". Similar to the JFET types. For N-channel MOSFET's a "Positive" gate voltage widens the channel, increasing the flow of the drain current and decreasing the drain current as the gate voltage goes more negative. The opposite is also true for the P-channel types. The depletion mode MOSFET is equivalent to a "Normally Closed" switch.

Depletion-mode N-Channel MOSFET and circuit Symbols

Characteristics Curves for Depletion mode MOSFET

Circuit Symbols for Depletion mode MOSFET
Depletion-mode MOSFET's are constructed similar to their JFET transistor counterparts where the drain-source channel is inherently conductive with electrons and holes already present within the N-type or P-type channel. This doping of the channel produces a conducting path of low resistance between the drain and source with zero gate bias.

Enhancement-mode MOSFET

The more common Enhancement-mode MOSFET is the reverse of the depletion-mode type. Here the conducting channel is lightly doped or even undoped making it non-conductive. This results in the device being normally "OFF" when the gate bias voltage is equal to zero.
A drain current will only flow when a gate voltage (Vgs) is applied to the gate terminal. This positive voltage creates an electrical field within the channel attracting electrons towards the oxide layer and thereby reducing the overall resistance of the channel allowing current to flow. Increasing this positive gate voltage will cause an increase in the drain current, Id through the channel. Then, the Enhancement-mode device is equivalent to a "Normally Open" switch.

Enhancement-mode N-Channel MOSFET and circuit Symbols

Characteristics Curves for Enhancement mode MOSFET

Circuit Symbols for Enhancement mode MOSFET
Enhancement-mode MOSFET's make excellent electronics switches due to their low "ON" resistance and extremely high "OFF" resistance and extremely high gate resistance. Enhancement-mode MOSFET's are used in integrated circuits to produce CMOS type Logic Gates and power switching circuits as they can be driven by digital logic levels.

MOSFET Summary

The MOSFET has an extremely high input gate resistance and as such a easily damaged by static electricity if not carefully protected. MOSFET's are ideal for use as electronic switches or common-source amplifiers as their power consumption is very small. Typical applications for MOSFET's are in Microprocessors, Memories, Calculators and Logic Gates etc. Also, notice that the broken lines within the symbol indicates a normally "OFF" Enhancement type showing that "NO" current can flow through the channel when zero gate voltage is applied and a continuous line within the symbol indicates a normally "ON" Depletion type showing that current "CAN" flow through the channel with zero gate voltage. For P-Channel types the symbols are exactly the same for both types except that the arrow points outwards.
This can be summarised in the following switching table.
MOSFET type Vgs = +ve Vgs = 0 Vgs = -ve
N-Channel Depletion ONONOFF
N-Channel Enhancement ONOFFOFF
P-Channel Depletion OFFONON
P-Channel Enhancement OFFOFFON

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