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Quantum Mechanics and Electrical Engineering

  1. Aug 22, 2013 #1
    What areas of electrical engineering research require good knowledge of quantum mechanics? I'm an EE major minoring in Physics (done 3 years). I know I want to do research, but I'm trying to figure out what area(s) of research I want to pursue. Of my classes my favourites have been the ones related to electromagnetics and quantum mechanics (not to say I don't like anything else, those have just been my favourite). I have a decent idea of what there is in terms of applied "classical" electromagnetics because I have some experience there, but I'm really curious about what sort of electrical engineering applications involve quantum mechanics or "modern" physics in general, because I think I'd really enjoy something like that.

    I have quite a bit of time to figure this out and I'm willing to search around for myself, but I really just need starting points: general research topics, companies, research groups, specific projects/papers, or anything else you happen to know of that has to do with modern physics (especially quantum) used in EE applications would be greatly appreciated. I plan to search around for more info on my own, but I'm really lacking starting places at this point.

    Also, to be a little more specific in case it wasn't clear, I'm looking for things where I would actually need to understand quantum theory, not just things that are based on quantum. E.g., I know semiconductors are based on quantum physics, but all the semiconductor applications I'm familiar with (admittedly not that many) don't really require you to know much, if any, quantum mechanics.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2013 #2


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    Semiconductor diode laser design requires quantum mechanics, as does research in quantum computing.

    I'm pretty sure the semiconductor engineers trying to reduce gate leakage of transistors care about quantum mechanics, as leakage is a tunneling phenomenon.
  4. Aug 23, 2013 #3
    If you reversed your question to instead be "What areas of experimental quantum physics research requires electrical energineering skills?" The answer would be very positive: nearly all!

    If you just want to work with both electrical and quantum stuff, I could definately reccommend aiming for quantum physics experiments, because these are all fairly advance when it comes to the electronics needed, and there is a large demand for people with electronics backgrounds, especially analog electronics, to be interested in experimental quantum physics.
  5. Aug 24, 2013 #4
    This is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure I do want to flip the question like that. To clarify my question, I think what I'm looking for is more "applied" quantum mechanics. That is, I think I'm more interested in using quantum theory to solve problems and design things rather than helping to discover/verify new physics.
  6. Aug 25, 2013 #5
    One short answer would be quantum computing/information.
    You probably have heard about people trying to make quantum computer, it's all about applying quantum physics knowledge in order to create a computer that works in a different way from the one you are using now, eventually achieving a high performance computer that can solve problems which take classical computer decades in just a few seconds (ideally).
  7. Aug 26, 2013 #6


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    Semiconductors. Many EE devices work through principles of quantum mechanics. any device with a pn junction, such as diodes or transistors, work by quantum tunneling.
    I am an ee, and during my first semiconductors class, our professor explained that a lot of the analysis and design of semiconductors is done side by side with physicists.
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