What property of a BJT transistor makes it an amplifier?

I know how we can amplify a given signal using BJT transistors by biasing them. But I would like to know what is that crux property which enables BJT transistor to act like an amplifier. Is it the constant nature of reverse saturation current or is it the definite relationship between the base and the collector current or anything else?

I am specifically talking about the BJT.

• Have you read the wikipedia article on transistors? May 1 '19 at 11:12
• Are you specifically thinking of the BJT as an amplifier or transistors in general (e.g. FETs)?
– edmz
May 1 '19 at 11:23
• @edmz i am specifically talking about the BJT May 1 '19 at 11:26
• Here you can find a different view electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/355899/…
– G36
May 1 '19 at 18:05

A transistor on its own does not make it an amplifier.

The transistor needs a circuit around it to do the actual (signal) amplification.

Depending on the circuit a transistor can amplify current changes and/or voltage changes and that means power amplification. Power amplification means that you need a smaller power to control or output a larger power.

In my opinion, the most basic property of a transistor which results in (power) amplification is the current relation between base current $$\I_B\$$ and collector current $$\I_C\$$. Their ratio is often referred to as $$\\beta\$$:

$$\beta = \frac{I_C}{I_B}$$

This $$\\beta\$$ is also quite "visible" in the actual transistor as it is linked to the ratio between the doping levels of the emitter and the base. The emitter will have the highest doping level, the base has a lower doping level (it could be $$\\beta\$$ times lower) and the collector will have the lowest doping level.

So if we increase the doping level of the base region, $$\\beta\$$ will increase and "amplification" goes up.

Does that mean I will always get a higher amplification if I use a transistor with a higher $$\\beta\$$?

No, it depends on the circuit you're using.

In some circuits indeed a higher $$\\beta\$$ will give you more amplification.

For example, a transistor controlling a relay. When $$\\beta\$$ is increased, we could use a smaller base current.

In others it will not give you more amplification.

For example, a Common Emitter amplifier, assuming we do not change the DC current $$\I_C\$$. In a CE amplifier, the voltage gain is $$\gm*R_{load}\$$. To get more gain we would need to increase $$\gm\$$ or $$\R_{load}\$$. Both can be done irrespective of $$\\beta\$$.

The crux property that allows anything to act as an amplifier is that it can control a high power signal, using a low power input.

In the case of a transistor, it's the fact that a low power base current or gate voltage can change a large collector or drain current.

There's a whole host of other devices that can be used as amplifiers. One of the earliest audio amplifiers used a diaphram microphone to modulate the tension of one end of a string wound round a rotating drum. The several turns of slipping string could control a large output tension which pulled a loud-speaking diaphram. Also look up fluidic amplifiers, magnetic amplifiers, Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTAs).