I'm a junior physics major focusing on theoretical physics. I didn't take any courses in electrical circuits or electronics (though I did take E&M). Recently I started feeling that this is a serious hole in my knowledge. Could anyone recommend relevant textbooks that are readable and suitable for self study?
- As a Physics student I've found really useful Jacob Millman's Microelectronics, which offers a thorough insight into the world of Electronics, both digital and analogue. It covers a wide range of topics, from semiconductors to transistors (BJT, FET - both MOSFET and JFET) to operational amplifiers, with chapters devoted to the explanation of the concept of feedback in analogue circuits as well as of that of stability. Every component is studied in its applications in circuits, both in the large and in the small signal model. For a non-specialist of the field it's also an excellent source for what concerns digital electronics, illustrating the main features of both sequential and combinatorial systems (i.e.: flip-flops) and devoting an entire chapter to the field of signal processing.
Pros: it's sufficiently rigorous for a physics student and, in the variety of the covered topics, attempts to let you understand what's happening in a component by using as much physics as possible, leaning on the power of equations as well as in that of intuition.
Cons: no new editions available so far (which shouldn't be a problem if you're just looking for an accurate background, without minding of the very latest advances in digital electronics); probably too extensive (almost 1000 pages).
Another authority in the field of Electronics is The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz, which, as you may see from here ("look inside!") covers the same topics as Millman's masterpiece, but tries to do so using as little math as possible, as the author himself states in the preface. .
Even more informal than The Art of Electronics is its Student Manual, which, with the aid of a lot of sense of humor, will help you understand things way more easily.
If you're interested in semiconductors, you may appreciate Muller's Device Electronics for Integrated Circuits.
- And, at last, if you have an Electronic Engineer hidden deep inside, you should consider Contemporary Logic Design by Randy Katz (please, notice its cover!), which will teach you a lot of amazing things concerning The Digital World.