PHY 305: Digital Electronics

3 credits | Prerequisites: PHY 207

Course rationale

This is the second of two courses on electronics for students majoring in physics. It focuses on the fundamentals of digital electronics. Students will be introduced to the principles of digital logic and circuit elements. Both analog and digital electronics are integral parts of physics education because electronics is one of the most striking success stories of the application of modern physics.

Course content

Number Systems: binary, octal, decimal, and hexadecimal numbers, number-base conversions, complements of numbers, signed binary numbers, and binary codes. Logic Gates: inverter; AND, OR, NAND, NOR, XOR, XNOR gates; programmable and fixed-function logic gates. Boolean Algebra: Boolean expressions, laws, and rules of Boolean algebra, Boolean analysis of logic circuits, logic simplification, truth tables, Karnaugh maps. Digital Logic: digital integrated circuits, combinatorial logic, sequential logic, sequential functions in integrated circuits, examples of digital circuits. Programmable Logic Devices: history of PLDs, PLD hardware, Pseudorandom Byte Generator. Logic Interfacing I: CMOS and TTL logic interfacing, probing digital signals, comparators, driving external digital loads from logic levels. Logic Interfacing II: optoelectronic emitters and detectors, optocouplers and relays, fiber-optic digital links, digital signals and long wires, and driving cables. Digital and Analog I: digital to-analog converters, examples of DAC applications, converter linearity, analog-to-digital converters, parallel encoder, successive approximation. Digital and Analog II: integrating with ADCs, delta-sigma, choices, and tradeoffs relevant for ADCs, examples of A/D and D/A converters, phase-locked loops, and pseudorandom bit sequences. Computers: computer architecture, CPUs and data bus, computer languages, bus signals and interfacing, memory types, buses and data links, parallel buses, series buses, and number formats. Microcontrollers I: basics of microcontrollers, suntan monitor as an example, popular microcontroller families, ac power control, and frequency synthesizer. Microcontrollers II: thermal controller, stabilized mechanical platform, peripheral ICs for
microcontrollers, development environment.

Course objectives

  1. Understand the basis of number systems and conversion from one to another.
  2. Illustrate the basic components of digital circuits.
  3. Carry out calculations using Boolean algebra and relate them to digital circuits.
  4. Differentiate between fixed-function and programmable logic devices.
  5. Demonstrate the fundamentals of logic interfacing and optoelectronics.
  6. Relate and differentiate digital and analog circuits.
  7. Understand the architecture and working procedures of computers and microcontrollers.


  1. Paul Horowitz & Winfield Hill, The Art of Electronics, 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press.
  2. Thomas L. Floyd, Digital Fundamentals, 11th edition, Pearson.
  3. M. Morris Mano & Michael D. Ciletti, Digital Design, 5th edition, Pearson.