QuarkNet Classroom Projects

Applying Ohm's Law to Semiconductors

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In summer 1999, QuarkNet teacher Rick Dower studied voltage-current relationships in silicon vertex detectors for the upgrade of D-Zero. After establishing a LabView interface to test voltage and current, Dr. Dower moved the apparatus to the small accelerator at the University of Massachussets at Lowell for testing under neutron radiation. All data was recorded and delivered in graphical form as a D-Zero Note. In this lesson, students analyze V vs I graphs to determine the extent to which the silicon vertices are or are not ohmic and to determine the effect that neutron radiation has on a semiconductor device.

Introduction to Research:

D-Zero is one of the two main collider detectors in the Tevatron at Fermilab. It is used to examine the products of proton-antiporton collisions in order to explore the frontier of particle physics. Until the spring of 2001, D-Zero was being upgraded and was offline. The silicon vertex detectors are in the central tracker of D-Zero and are thus important to particle identification and momentum determination. However, their performance in a radioactive environment needed to to be understood and recorded. Richard Dower, a Lead Teacher in QuarkNet, was given the task of designing and using an experiment to measure these characteristics. This lesson is based on the results of his experiment.

Learner Outcomes: Students will know and be able to:

Research Question:

Does Ohm's law apply to a semiconductor?


A sample sudent rubic assess student achievement of learner objectives.