Summary
The junction-gate field-effect transistor (JFET) is one of the simplest types of field-effect transistor. JFETs are three-terminal semiconductor devices that can be used as electronically controlled switches or resistors, or to build amplifiers. Unlike bipolar junction transistors, JFETs are exclusively voltage-controlled in that they do not need a biasing current. Electric charge flows through a semiconducting channel between source and drain terminals. By applying a reverse bias voltage to a gate terminal, the channel is pinched, so that the electric current is impeded or switched off completely. A JFET is usually conducting when there is zero voltage between its gate and source terminals. If a potential difference of the proper polarity is applied between its gate and source terminals, the JFET will be more resistive to current flow, which means less current would flow in the channel between the source and drain terminals. JFETs are sometimes referred to as depletion-mode devices, as they rely on the principle of a depletion region, which is devoid of majority charge carriers. The depletion region has to be closed to enable current to flow. JFETs can have an n-type or p-type channel. In the n-type, if the voltage applied to the gate is negative with respect to the source, the current will be reduced (similarly in the p-type, if the voltage applied to the gate is positive with respect to the source). Because a JFET in a common source or common drain configuration has a large input impedance (sometimes on the order of 1010 ohms), little current is drawn from circuits used as input to the gate. A succession of FET-like devices was patented by Julius Lilienfeld in the 1920s and 1930s. However, materials science and fabrication technology would require decades of advances before FETs could actually be manufactured. JFET was first patented by Heinrich Welker in 1945. During the 1940s, researchers John Bardeen, Walter Houser Brattain, and William Shockley were trying to build a FET, but failed in their repeated attempts.
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The field-effect transistor (FET) is a type of transistor that uses an electric field to control the flow of current in a semiconductor. FETs (JFETs or MOSFETs) are devices with three terminals: source, gate, and drain. FETs control the flow of current by the application of a voltage to the gate, which in turn alters the conductivity between the drain and source. FETs are also known as unipolar transistors since they involve single-carrier-type operation.
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