Fundamental Digital Electronics (Spring 2014)


The purpose of this course is to teach students basic laboratory digital electronics. Students completing the course will be well-versed in the most important measurement techniques used in modern experimental physics laboratories. The course focuses on practical applications of electronics and will not explore electrodynamics or the theory of electromagnetism.

We will begin with the very basics of digital gates and work our way up to more complicated elements such as multiplexers, flip-flops, and state machines. Analog to digital and digital to analog conversion will be discussed. The application of digital electronics to modern experiments along with state-of-the-art devices such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) will also be covered.

Format and Requirements

The course consists of one 2-hour lecture per week and one 1-hour practical session per week. Practical sessions will vary from week to week. Depending on the topic, the sessions will involve the actual building of electronic circuits, the programming of a measurement script, or the resolution of circuit design problems. Satisfactory completion of all of the assignments is required in order to pass the course. The course will be conducted in English. The grading is pass/fail.

This course will be aimed at 3rd-year bachelor and master students in physics and nanoscience. Physics II is suggested as a prerequisite, though not required.

Large portions of the course will be based on the The Art of Electronics, P. Horowitz and W. Hill (Cambridge, 1997) and Student Manual for the Art of Electronics, T. C. Hayes and P. Horowitz (Cambridge, 1996). While The Art of Electronics (AE) is an excellent reference, we will more closely follow its practical companion Student Manual for the Art of Electronics (SMAE), which you are required to have and encouraged to buy. Copies of the readings for more modern topics will be distributed in class.


Lectures: Tuesdays, 10.00-12.00, Neuer Hörsaal 1
Lab Sessions: Wednesdays, 13:00-15:00, Seminarzimmer 2.04
Exercise Sessions: Wednesdays, 13:00-14:00, 4.1
Date Lecture Content
18.02.2014 Preliminary Logistics and Introduction
Course outline and expectations; What is digital electronics? Why should we digitize signals in the first place?

Practical Session: none

Reading: AE: p. 471-484.

Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
25.02.2014 Gates and Combinatorial Logic
Digital gates, combinatorial logic.

Practical Session (4.1): Review of analog electronics (Andrea)

Reading: SMAE: p. 281-294; AE: p. 484-504.

Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
04.03.2014 Multiplexers and Binary Arithmetic
Multiplexers, decoders, arithmetic logic units (ALUs).

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 1

Reading: SMAE: p. 295-308.

Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
18.03.2014 Sequential Logic
Devices with memory, flip-flops, shift registers.

Practical Session (4.1): Problem Session 1 (Dennis)

Reading: SMAE: p. 320-331; AE: p. 504-523.

Downloads: Lecture notes.
25.03.2014 Counters and Clocks
Counters, counter use, timing, and typical problems with digital circuits.

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 2

Reading: SMAE:p. 342-361.

Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
01.04.2014 Memory, Buses, and State Machines
Types of memory, organizing stored bits, state machines, gates vs. memory.

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 3

Reading: SMAE:p. 375-393.

Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
08.04.2014 Digital meets Analog
Basic concepts: bandwidth, sampling rate, Nyquist theorem, aliasing, quantization error, dithering, sensitivity, resolution, jitter, etc.

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 4

Reading: SMAE: p. 406-415; AE: 613-640.

Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
15.04.2014 Digital-to-Analog and Analog-to-Digital
D-to-A, R-2R ladder, A-to-D, parallel encoders, successive approximation and tracking, Phase-Locked Loop (PLL).

Practical Session (2.04): Problem Session 2 (Dennis)

Reading: SMAE: p. 416-420; AE: 641-655.

Downloads: Lecture slides.
22.04.2014 NO LECTURE

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 5



29.04.2014 Digital Signal Processing
Analog and digital modulation, protocols for digital communication, shift-keying.

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 6


Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
06.05.2014 Control Systems
Modeling a system, state-variable and output equations, transfer fucntions.

Practical Session (4.1): Problem Session 3 (Andrea)


Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
13.05.2014 PID Control
The three-term controller, characteristics, example problem, design tips.

Practical Session (2.04): Free Lab Session (Michele)


Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
20.05.2014 Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs)
FPGA basics, uses, and programming. How does an FPGA work and what is it good for?

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 7


Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.
27.05.2014 Micropressors
How does a microprocessor work?

Practical Session (2.04): Lab Session 8


Downloads: Lecture notes, Lecture slides.