Fundamentals of Current Flow

Course 3 of 6: MicroMasters in Nanoscience and Technology 5 weeks total 5-6 hours each week recommended

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Course Overview

Very different from what is taught in standard courses, “Fundamentals of Current Flow” provides a unified conceptual framework for ballistic and diffusive transport of both electrons and phonons – essential information for understanding nanoelectronic devices.

The traditional description of electronic motion through a solid is based on diffusive transport, which means that the electron takes a random walk from the source to the drain of a transistor, for example. However, modern nanoelectronic devices often have channel lengths comparable to a mean free path so that electrons travel ballistically, or “like a bullet.”

Verified/Master’s students taking this course will be required to complete two (2) proctored exams using the edX online Proctortrack software. To be sure your computer is compatible, see Proctortrack Technical Requirements.

Nanoscience and Technology MicroMasters ®

Fundamentals of Current Flow is one course in a growing suite of unique, 1-credit-hour short courses developed in an edX/Purdue University collaboration. Students may elect to pursue a verified certificate for this specific course alone or as one of the six courses needed for the edX/Purdue MicroMasters® program in Nanoscience and Technology.

For further information and other courses offered, see the Nanoscience and Technology MicroMasters® page. Courses like this can also apply toward a Purdue University MSECE degree for students accepted into the full master’s program.

What You’ll Learn

  • Ballistic and diffusive conductance
  • Density of states
  • Number of modes
  • Conductivity
  • Landauer formula


Undergraduate degree in engineering or the physical sciences, knowledge of differential equations and linear algebra.

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. EdX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.

Meet Your Instructors

Supriyo Datta

Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NAE member at Purdue University - Supriyo Datta started his career in ultrasonics, but since 1985 has focused on current flow in nanoscale electronic devices. The approach pioneered by his group for the description of quantum transport has been widely adopted in the field of nano electronics and he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for this work. This approach, combining the non-equilibrium Green function (NEGF) formalism of many-body physics with the Landauer formalism from mesoscopic physics, is described in his books Electronic Transport in Mesoscopic Systems (Cambridge 1995), Quantum Transport: Atom to Transistor (Cambridge 2005) and Lessons from Nanoelectronics (World Scientific 2012). He is also well-known for his contributions to spin electronics and molecular electronics.

Shuvro Chowdhury

PhD Student at Purdue University Shuvro Chowdhury received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2011. He got his Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the same university in 2014. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD degree in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. His current research interest includes solving quantum many body problems with artificial neural network. His previous research was on analytical modeling of current in junctionless double gate MOSFETs. He also did some research in quantum computing.


5 weeks

Experience Level


Learning Partner

Purdue University