Résumé
The threshold voltage, commonly abbreviated as Vth or VGS(th), of a field-effect transistor (FET) is the minimum gate-to-source voltage (VGS) that is needed to create a conducting path between the source and drain terminals. It is an important scaling factor to maintain power efficiency. When referring to a junction field-effect transistor (JFET), the threshold voltage is often called pinch-off voltage instead. This is somewhat confusing since pinch off applied to insulated-gate field-effect transistor (IGFET) refers to the channel pinching that leads to current saturation behaviour under high source–drain bias, even though the current is never off. Unlike pinch off, the term threshold voltage is unambiguous and refers to the same concept in any field-effect transistor. In n-channel enhancement-mode devices, a conductive channel does not exist naturally within the transistor, and a positive gate-to-source voltage is necessary to create one such. The positive voltage attracts free-floating electrons within the body towards the gate, forming a conductive channel. But first, enough electrons must be attracted near the gate to counter the dopant ions added to the body of the FET; this forms a region with no mobile carriers called a depletion region, and the voltage at which this occurs is the threshold voltage of the FET. Further gate-to-source voltage increase will attract even more electrons towards the gate which are able to create a conductive channel from source to drain; this process is called inversion. The reverse is true for the p-channel "enhancement-mode" MOS transistor. When VGS = 0 the device is “OFF” and the channel is open / non-conducting. The application of a negative gate voltage to the p-type "enhancement-mode" MOSFET enhances the channels conductivity turning it “ON”. In contrast, n-channel depletion-mode devices have a conductive channel naturally existing within the transistor. Accordingly, the term threshold voltage does not readily apply to turning such devices on, but is used instead to denote the voltage level at which the channel is wide enough to allow electrons to flow easily.
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