Quantum Mechanics in the Modern World

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Nov 2, 2013 (3 years and 1 month ago)

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Quantum Mechanics in the Modern World

Cadet
Wine, William M.

Spring
201
3



PY 33
6
X
/
Modern Physics

L
TC Daniela

Topasna



HELP RECEIVED:

Textbook
, Bibliography


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Quantum Mechanics in the

Modern World



Quantum mechanics (wave mechanics) was developed between 1925 and 1926 by
Schrӧdinger, Heisenberg, and other physicists
. It makes it possible to understand different
phenomena that involve elementary particles (electrons, protons, neutrons)
, atoms, molecules,
and solids.

Many new ideas have started and new discoveries made because of quantum
mechanics, including discovering that electrons behave both as waves and particles depending on
whether they are being observed or not. Einstein said ab
out quantum mechanics, “the more
success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks.”


Quantum mechanics continues to develop today and has aided in numerous new
technologies.

The first technology quantum mechanics helped with, and probably one of the
m
ost important ones, was the development
of transistors that work because of

the
properties

of
semiconductors. Semiconductors

are materials that can act as either a conductor or an insulator
and are used to make transistors which are in most modern electronic devices in the form of
microprocessors.

In addition to transistors, the development of quantum mechanics has led to
quant
um computers. Quantum computers are computers that attempt to capitalize on parallel
processing, which allows the computer to execute numerous tasks at the same time instead of
having to complete the tasks in the order the user selected them. This technolo
gy is still further in
the future because scientists have to develop a new type of bit, being called a qubit, that would
hold more information than standard bits that use binary code with “1” and “0”.


Electricity production also advanced because of quantu
m mechanics when thermoelectric
materials were created that can convert heat into usable electricity were developed. This could
lead to a variety of applications in all different fields. Solar power can benefit because the excess
heat in a solar collector
can be converted to electricity which would make them more efficient as

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well as keep them cooler. Any type of vehicle could use this material (which is less than a
millionth of an inch thick) to convert exhaust heat or brake heat or any excess heat into
el
ectricity, which would be perfect for recharging the car battery or to keep the car running for
hybrid cars.


Atomic clocks are thought to be the most accurate clocks that exist, however quantum
mechanics is opening the door to even more precise clocks. Th
e pendulum that keeps atomic
clocks going is the vibration of cesium atoms, but this vibration is clouded by quantum noise.
There are researchers at German universities that developed a way to suppress the quantum noise
to allow for increased precision of
the clocks. This precision is most necessary for calculating
spacecraft trajectories and for other technologies that require perfect timing.


Cryptography was used by Spartans to encode/decode messages and it has come much
further since then and now can be

used in the form of quantum cryptography.

Measuring the
properties of a quantum system changes its properties so a quantum encoded message would
change if someone stole it and therefore when it finally reached its intended recipient, it would
be different

and the recipient would know and get a new key. Though many consider quantum
encoding to be unbreakable, research in Singapore and Norway is proving them wrong by
deceiving the instruments that read the messages so that the recipient is unaware the code w
as
broken.


Another technological advance thanks to quantum mechanics is random number
generators. Scientists discovered that everything most people consider to be random, such as
throwing dice, roulette wheels, lottery balls, and computerized random
number generators
, are
actually not random at all. True randomness only occurs at the quantum level so researchers at
the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Light were able to develop a quantum random number

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generator that fits on a solid state drive whic
h could be applied to most electronic devices for
encryption.



In addition to super precise clocks, ultraprecise thermometers have been develo
ped from
quantum tunneling which develops quantum noise which can then be heard by the thermometer
created by res
earchers from Yale.

According to quantum tunneling, there is no region
inaccessible to a particle, the particle can penetrate through barriers

if the energy of the particle
is lower than the energy of the barrier,

which is

known as

quantum tunneling. If the particle
penetrates the barrier but doesn’t pass through it (because the barrier is too wide), the probability
of finding the particle is higher in the barrier and a penetration depth can be defined by the
equation below:














(



)


where δ is the penetration depth, m is the mass of the particle, U is the height of the barrier, E is
the energy of the particle, and ћ is Planck’s constant divided by 2π.
Though it is impractical for
use by everyone, it has a lot of

potential for use in research laboratories that deal with extreme
temperatures. They are continuing to refine it in the hopes that it will be adopted by more
research facilities in the future.


In a world with texting, email, and cell phones, there are so
me researchers who believe
that quantum mechanics can eventually lead to truly instantaneous communication, regardless of
whether it’s over a distance of one mile or one hundred thousand miles.

The concept of quantum
entanglement (“spooky action at a dista
nce” according to Einstein) where two particles are
entangled and a change in one particle causes an instantaneous change in the other particle,
despite the distance between them. If transmitting information across indefinite distances is a
possibility, th
en eventually teleportation could become a reality. A group of scientists at the

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University of California, Berkeley were able to transmit information using quantum
entanglement over a distance of one meter. Researchers from IBM proved theoretically that
te
leportation is a possibility but that it would destroy the original object and create a copy of it at
another location. Though it might not ever happen, teleportation research has led to advances in
other forms of quantum research.


I never knew all the po
ssibilities that were opened up by quantum mechanics, but I can’t
wait to see what the future of quantum mechanics will bring to the world. Most interesting would
be the introduction of the truly instantaneous communication and also the quantum computers
t
hat can parallel process.
Quantum mechanics seems to be the main part of modern physics
culture at this point in time, unfortunately a majority of the world understands very little of it. I’ll
admit that after this being my second semester of modern physic
s, I still have difficulty
understanding the basics of it, but it seems to be a very promising field for research. This is a
part of physics culture that needs to be shared to everyone, especially the transistors part that
makes everyone’s computers functi
on.


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Bibliography

[1] Atteberry, J. (2010) 10 Real
-
World Applications of Quantum Mechanics. Quantum
Mechanics. Discovery Channel. Site visited: 3 May 2013. <

http://dsc.discovery.com/tv
-
shows/curiosity/topics/10
-
real
-
world
-
applications
-
of
-
quantum
-
mechanics.htm
>

[2
]
Gautreau
,
R
., and
Savin
,
W
.,

(
1
999
)

Schaum’s Outlines:
Modern

Physics
,

2
nd

Edition
.
McGraw
-
Hill
,
Washington, D.C.

[3
] Serway
,
R
. A.,
Moses
,
C
.
J
., and
Moyer
,
C
.
A
.,

(2005)

Modern Physics 3
rd

Edition
.
Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning, California.