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Solid State Physics vs Electronics Engineering

  1. Oct 2, 2014 #1
    Forgive me for asking this question if the answer is obvious. The truth is I have a BENG in electrical engineering and want to know the differences between the two.
    From an engineer's perspective its about knowing what you can do with the devices in a useful way and design, analyze and build the circuit.
    I'd like to know the Physicist's perspective and I'm also keen to know whether a Physicist is just as well trained as an engineer in designing circuits.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2014 #2
    Solid state physics covers many more subjects than just semiconductor devices: Magnetism, Superconductivity, Metals, and so on are just simple examples, there are many more.

    For semiconductor physics, the goal is not usually to combine existing devices to make circuits, but to find new ways to make devices.

    The transistor was invented by (solid state) physicists. So was the laser.

    Most physicists will not be trained as well in circuit designs as electronics engineers. But there are exceptions. There are physicists working on the electronics of the CERN detectors, for example, that are developing circuits that are state of the art in every sense. On the other hand I also know physicists that cannot tell a diode from a resistor or capacitor.
  4. Oct 2, 2014 #3


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    I agree with the beginning of your quote but most of the circuit design for the detectors at CERN (I have specific knowledge primarily of the ATLAS detector) was done by Electrical Engineers. There are some very knowledgeable physicists on the project to be sure, but their contributions are mostly on the system design, evaluation, system integration, and software development and less on the hard-core electronics development (not least the IC development which was done almost entirely by EEs and a couple of physicists turned EEs).
  5. Oct 2, 2014 #4
    That is quite possible. I stand corrected.
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