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Introduction to Quantum Physics

"I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics." Physicist Richard P. Feynman

To say that the invention of semiconductor devices was a revolution would not be an exaggeration. Not only was this an impressive technological accomplishment, but it paved the way for developments that would indelibly alter modern society. Semiconductor devices made possible miniaturized electronics, including computers, certain types of medical diagnostic and treatment equipment, and popular telecommunication devices, to name a few applications of this technology.

But behind this revolution in technology stands an even greater revolution in general science: the field of quantum physics. Without this leap in understanding the natural world, the development of semiconductor devices (and more advanced electronic devices still under development) would never have been possible. Quantum physics is an incredibly complicated realm of science, and this chapter is by no means a complete discussion of it, but rather a brief overview. When scientists of Feynman's caliber say that "no one understands [it]," you can be sure it is a complex subject. Without a basic understanding of quantum physics, or at least an understanding of the scientific discoveries that led to its formulation, though, it is impossible to understand how and why semiconductor electronic devices function. Most introductory electronics textbooks I've read attempt to explain semiconductors in terms of "classical" physics, resulting in more confusion than comprehension.

Last Update: 2010-11-19