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Elucidating the electron transport in semiconductors via Monte Carlo simulations: An inquiry-driven learning path for engineering undergraduates


Within the context of higher education for science or engineering undergraduates, we present an inquiry-driven learning path aimed at developing a more meaningful conceptual understanding of the electron dynamics in semiconductors in the presence of applied electric fields. The electron transport in a nondegenerate n-type indium phosphide bulk semiconductor is modelled using a multivalley Monte Carlo approach. The main characteristics of the electron dynamics are explored under different values of the driving electric field, lattice temperature and impurity density. Simulation results are presented by following a question-driven path of exploration, starting from the validation of the model and moving up to reasoned inquiries about the observed characteristics of electron dynamics. Our inquiry-driven learning path, based on numerical simulations, represents a viable example of how to integrate a traditional lecture-based teaching approach with effective learning strategies, providing science or engineering undergraduates with practical opportunities to enhance their comprehension of the physics governing the electron dynamics in semiconductors. Finally, we present a general discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of using an inquiry-based teaching approach within a learning environment based on semiconductor simulations.