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E.Engr running out of ideas to enter the world of physics

  1. May 3, 2010 #1
    I do Logic design and verification of Multi-core chips for a living (4th year in Semiconductor/Computer HW industry). I don't have much of a background in Physics outside my high school and some Applied Physics courses that I took in BS-EE and MS-EE. I don't covet a PhD in Physics, all I want is that at least 50% of what I do for a living involves solving Physics problems. Is that even possible? I've this idea: I'll get a PhD admit in EE. Since I've Solid State Physics background from my MS, I'll do my research in Quantum Computing for which I'll need to study Quantum Physics. Bottom line: I'm working towards a PhD in EE, but under the hood its mostly Physics. Once I get my PhD in EE I could end up in a semiconductor company R&D doing research and solving problems in ...drumroll... Physics, for a living.
    You can comment "Are you sure you're a Logic designer?". I know.
    I must be overlooking a lot of things here. That's why I depend on you guys to expose flaws in my idea and beat the hell out of it.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2010 #2
    I have one more question on top of it. Do you know if signal processing is somehow related to high energy physics as solid state/semiconductor is more related to quantum physics?
  4. May 4, 2010 #3
    If you're asking about digital signal processing(DSP) then no it has nothing to do with physics. DSP is all math. It involves a lot of fourier transforms, z-transforms, time-frequency domain transformations, FIR filter, FFT design...stuff like that.
  5. May 4, 2010 #4
    Ya I am aware of that as I am also from EE background. Actually what I mean is that in high energy physics most probably do we have to analyze the signal using necessary signal processing tools like FFT,DFT etc? I was just curious and I believe high energy physicst can better answer this question.
  6. May 4, 2010 #5
    OK. I'm talking about DSP theory/DSP processor design.
  7. Oct 9, 2010 #6
    Um is it just me or did anybody else find TC's Opening Post really hard to decipher?
  8. Oct 9, 2010 #7
    I'm not from High Energy, but I can tell you that yes a lot of signal and data processing is involved to high energy experiments. In such experiments also FPGAs are used to handle the processing.

    As for EE PhD with Physics content, quantum mechanics is definitely a must (I would strongly advise doing such a lecture in the physics dept. rather than EE, since QM for engineers lecture at some universities tend to skip certain things, giving preference to applications), but you should also consider other fields than quantum computing, working with sub 100nm devices (electrical devices, or optoelectronic) does involve a lot of physics, which can be more relevant if you want to end up in semicon. R&D department. You may want to look at http://www.nanohub.org , has some grad lectures on device modeling (see lectures by Datta, Lundstrom , Klimeck and Vasileska).
    There is a focus nowadays on the so call Quantum Transport and its simulations since the older theories and models based on drift n diffusion break down.

    Just an idea, you seem to have interest in physics, however learning it is one thing and working with it for life is a different thing, go for the PhD, enjoy the Physics and EE lectures, then decide with what you want to do later (the thesis topic that is).
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2010
  9. Oct 10, 2010 #8
    Could an EE go on to do material sciences? Wouldn't that be a good middle ground? (curious EE undergrad)
  10. Oct 10, 2010 #9


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    Not easily, but it depends on what you want to do in Materials Science.
  11. Oct 10, 2010 #10
    Electronic properties of materials and superconductivity?
  12. Oct 10, 2010 #11


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  13. Oct 10, 2010 #12
    I've looked into this area as well, would an EE with a specialty in control and dynamic systems and some extra E&M and Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics courses do well there? Or would more specialty in physics be necessary for someone with a BS in EE?
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