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We develop a model for the tunnel field-effect transistor (TFET) based on the Wentzel-Kramer-Brillouin approximation which improves over existing semi-classical models employing generation rates. We hereby introduce the concept of a characteristic tunneling length in direct semiconductors. Based on the model, we show that a limited density of states results in an optimal doping concentration as well as an optimal material’s band gap to obtain the highest TFET on-current at a given supply voltage. The observed optimal-doping trend is confirmed by 2-dimensional quantum-mechanical simulations for silicon and germanium.