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What were the first applications of quantum mechanics to technology?

  1. Feb 8, 2012 #1
    This thread is primarily the history of quantum mechanics, so I am not sure if it is appropriate for this forum.

    I understand that most of the foundational experiments in quantum mechanics were done in the first two or three decades of the 20th century. As far as I can remember, it is hard to explain semiconductor band gap theory without appealing to quantum mechanics, so the development of the solid state transistor required the quantum mechanics to occur.

    Is there another technology that applies quantum mechanics that was developed earlier than the transistor?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2012 #2

    Bill_K

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    X-ray machines
     
  4. Feb 10, 2012 #3
    X-rays were discover before the formalization of quantum mechanics, though.
     
  5. Feb 10, 2012 #4
    I'd say the transistor.
     
  6. Feb 10, 2012 #5
    I would say quantum mechanics was applied earlier than that to electronic microscopy, as quantum effects determine the ultimate resolution of this imaging technology.
     
  7. Feb 11, 2012 #6
    I would say atomic fission was harnessed solely by the use of the quantum theory of physics (Nuclear weapons, thermonuclear power).
     
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