PHYS 404 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description


The objective of PHYS 404 is to give you the confidence with electronic circuits and instrumentation.  Roughly the first half of the course will focus on analog electronics.  We'll discuss steady state circuit analysis using complex numbers and simple time-domain analysis.  We'll then discuss some basic semiconductor physics, pn junctions and transistors.   After that we'll look at amplifiers, feedback, control circuits, filters and oscillators.  The focus will then move to digital electronics: field effect transistors, logic gates and microcontrollers.    We'll then return to more sophisticated circuits and deal with signals and noise, modulation techniques and some aspects of high frequency electronics.   Lecture notes will be posted for each class.   There is no required text but if you wish to buy one, I'd recommend P. Horowitz and W. Hill, The Art of Electronics.  Any of the 3 editions will be more than adequate for Physics 404. 

Physics 404 is a 5 credit hour course so it takes some time.  There are 4 hours of lecture/demo and 6 hours per week of on-time, mandatory lab attendance.  The course is now based around the Analog-Discovery 2,  a sophisticated electronic test station that fits in your pocket, communicates with your computer through a USB port and contains an oscilloscope, 2 signal generators, power supplies, logic and spectrum analyzers and digital input/output.  Everyone will sign out one of these devices along with some other components.  This arrangement will allow you to continue working on the circuits at home.  We will use Arduino microcontrollers for some of the circuits so you'll need to do a little programming when the time comes.   However, this is absolutely not a course on using software to analyze or design circuits.   I am far more concerned with developing an intuitive feel and qualitative understanding of electronics.  

Course Structure


Two 3-hour sessions per week in 6106 Engineering Science Building (ESB).  There are two sections:

You must attend the lab sessions.  Unless you have a university-approved excuse, I will take off points if you fail to show up. 


Two 2-hour lectures per week, Mondays & Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.  The lecture notes and recordings will be posted each week on the course schedule page. 


Some homework assignments  will be conventional problems and others will be circuits to build and analyze. 

Final Exam

There will be a 3-hour final.  You will be allowed to use anything posted on the course website during the exam.