Basic transistor structureThe transistor is a three terminal device and consists of three distinct layers. Two of them are doped to give one type of semiconductor and the there is the opposite type, i.e. two may be n-type and one p-type, or two may be p-type and one may be n-type.. They are arranged so that the two similar layers of the transistor sandwich the layer of the opposite type. As a result transistor are designated either P-N-P (PNP) types of N-P-N (NPN) types according to the way they are made up.
Transistor operationA transistor can be considered as two P-N junctions placed back to back. One of these, namely the base emitter junction is forward biased, whilst the other, the base collector junction is reverse biased. It is found that when a current is made to flow in the base emitter junction a larger current flows in the collector circuit even though the base collector junction is reverse biased.
For clarity the example of an NPN transistor is taken. The same reasoning can be used for a PNP device, except that holes are the majority carriers instead of electrons.
When current flows through the base emitter junction, electrons leave the emitter and flow into the base. However the doping in this region is kept low and there are comparatively few holes available for recombination. As a result most of the electrons are able to flow right through the base region and on into the collector region, attracted by the positive potential.