Electronics (PHYS*3100)

Code and section: PHYS*3100*01

Term: Fall 2014

Instructor: Ralf Gellert


Course Information

Objectives of this course

This course will provide a practical introduction of all main aspects of modern electronics. Goal of the course is to discuss and understand the detailed principles of electronics that are used in experimental setups, measurement devices as well as consumer electronics.

Although some aspects of semiconductor physics will be discussed the emphasis is on learning to use electronic components for signal amplification, filtering, data acquisition and device control to build useful measurement devices. The capability to connect knowledge about electronics with your science background can open up new possibilities in an academic career or in industry. While much of this can be accomplished by treating electronic devices as ’black boxes’, for the physicist it is important to have a basic understanding of the principles on which these devices operate so that new applications of these devices can be conceived. Circuit capture and simulation software is a very useful tool for designing electronic boards and testing your analysis of electronic circuits and their behavior. ”Microelectronics Circuits” by Sedra and Smith comes with a student version of MultiSim which can be used to analyze many of the circuits discussed in the text. Other useful software that can be used in the course is mathematical packages like Matlab (or freemat as a similar free version) to solve some problems involving complex numbers or linear equation systems.

In addition, I would like to introduce the students to at least one programming language to interface directly with experimental setups. National Instruments LabView software is one possibility. Another possibility is to use modern devices like Raspberry Pi. For this reason, the lab schedule below is still in the planning stages as a few of the labs might be reorganized.

Prerequisites: PHYS*2340 or PHYS*2470


Lecturer Office Extension Email
Ralf Gellert MacN 450 53992 rgellert@uoguelph.ca

Office hours: 1 hour after lecture or by arrangement
Additional hours prior to exams

Teaching Assistant Office Extension Email
Scott VanBommel MacN 114 56359 svanbomm@uoguelph.ca

Lectures, Labs, Exams


Day Time Location
Tue, Thu 1:00-2:20 ALEX 028


Day Time Location
Wed 2:30-5:20 MacN 415B
Thu 7:00-9:50 MacN 415B

Mid-term Examination: mid to end of October during classes, TBD
Final Examination: Sat, Dec 6th, 14:30-16:30, room TBD

Course Materials

Required Textbook

Microelectronic Circuits, 6th Edition, A. S. Sedra and K. C. Smith, Oxford University Press

Supplementary Text

Electronics: Circuits, Amplifiers and Gates, D. V. Bugg, CRC Press; this book has a nice section on digital electronics which Sedra and Smith does not.
Jim Davis recommends it as a reference but it is not necessary for the course as I will provide all the material you need on digital circuits.

Course web page

There will be a course web page under CourseLink. Information, assignments and their solutions, additional links and notes will be available there. You will have access to all your marks and grades through CourseLink.

The following are useful references:

  • The Art of Electronics. Horowitz and Hill, Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Electronics: A Systems Approach. Neil Storey, Prentice-Hall.
  • Electronic Circuits, E. C. Lowenberg, Schaum’s Outline Series, Schaum Publishing Co.
  • There are excellent web pages, e.g. Wikipedia, where you can review certain items of the course.

Electronic component manufacturers provide also excellent web-sites with detailed specification sheets and application notes for their devices. For example:

  • http://www.analog.com the web-site of Analog Devices, one of the best sources of high quality operation amplifiers. Analog devices has a large number of useful application notes on their web-site.
  • http://www.ti.com the web-site of Texas Instruments, probably the largest producer of electronics components, both digital and analog (linear) (and the inventor of the integrated circuit!).
  • http://www.national.com the web-site of National Semiconductors who produce both digital and analog circuits.
  • http://www.ni.com is the web-site of National Instruments who developed LabView. They have some useful tutorials on using LabView which you can access.
  • http://www.spectrum-soft.com/index.shtm the web-site of Spectrum-Soft which provides a free student version of their design/simulation program MicroCap 10 which you can download.

Tentative lecture and lab schedule

As you see, lectures and labs are correlated. Use the lab to deepen the items discussed during the lectures and to get some hands on experience with electronics.

Week Topics Lab
Week 1 (Sep 8) General intro, DC and AC Circuits, Network Theorems, Single Time Constant Circuits: resistors, capacitors, inductors, complex impedance Introduction
Week 2 (Sep 15) Amplifiers. The Ideal Operational Amplifier No lab
Week 3 (Sep 22) Real Operational Amplifiers: the ideal op-amp vs real op-amps DC Circuits
Week 4 (Sep 29) Op Amp applications and Diodes AC Circuits
Week 5 (Oct 06) Introduction to Digital Logic: Inverters, Buffers and Gates Op Amps I
Week 6 (Oct 13) Sequential Logic: Flip-flops and Memory Op Amps II
Week 7 (Oct 20) Interfacing to a Computer: A/D and D/A conversion Diode & Rectifier
Week 8 (Oct 27) The Field Effect Transistor (FET) I Lab Logic I
Week 9 (Nov 03) FET II Logic II
Week 10 (Nov 10) The Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT) I Counters
Week 11 (Nov 17) BJT II MOSFET
Week 12 (Nov 24) Review Quiz


Assessment Weight
Midterm examination 25%
Problem Assignments (3 or 4 during term) 15%
Lab Reports 20%
Final examination 40 %

General notes about my approach to courses


Attendance of the lectures is expected. Students can not be admitted to this course if they can’t attend regularly due to having another course scheduled simultaneously.

If you miss a problem assignment due date or the midterm examination because of illness or compassionate reasons, please contact the instructor immediately for possible academic consideration. Usually the solutions to the problem sets are posted soon after the due date on CourseLink, so late assignments usually cannot be accepted.

If you miss the final examination, please see your Program Counselor.

Methodology of the course

  • If several students have gaps in Math, Physics or don’t understand parts of the lecture: Ask questions during the lectures! Discussions usually help all students to understand the material better.
  • Discuss with your classmates after the lecture if you have problems to understand certain items. This will help the one who asks, but also the one who explains.
  • Team work is encouraged. However, assignments are to be solved alone. This will deepen the understanding and prepare you for the exams.
  • If you contact the instructor, have a clear list of what you don’t understand. Writing down your questions and rethinking them helps usually already solving the problem.
  • There are very valuable sources of information available online to deepen or reread certain objectives of the course.

Wikipedia : www.en.wikipedia.org
Hyper-Physics http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html

Course Policies

Academic misconduct

The University of Guelph takes a serious view of academic misconduct and will severely penalize students, faculty and staff who are found guilty of offenses associated with misappropriation of others' work, misrepresentation of personal performance and fraud, improper access to scholarly resources, and obstructing others in pursuit of their academic endeavours. Each student is assumed to be familiar with the regulations surrounding academic misconducts, as spelled out in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Instructor evaluation

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching.

The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotions Committee only considers comments signed by students or by choosing "I agree" in question 14 (online process). Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.


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For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email csd@uoguelph.ca or refer to the CSD website. The standard statements are available on the AVPA website (undergraduate courses) or from the Office of Graduate Studies (Graduate Courses).