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Visualizing the Physics of Materials

Darrell G. Schlom
Organization: The Pennsylvania State University
Journal / Anthology

Journal of Materials Education
Year: 1996
Volume: 18
Issue: 1/2
Page range: 77-95

An introductory quantum mechanics course for materials science manors has been developed making user of the power of today's personal computers - allowing students to visualize the quantum physics underlying atoms, atomic bonding, and the microscopic behavior of materials. Using Mathematica, undergraduate students form a graphical link between equations and their physical significance both inside and outside the classroom. The availability of computerized classroom facilities for visual lectures and a Power Macintosh-based student laboratory for visual homework makes this possible. Examples covered in detail in the course include (1) quantum colors: smoky quarts, amethyst, blue topaz, and many other minerals as well as red glass and solid state lasers owe their color to this quantum effect; (2) radioactivity: an example of quantum tunneling used in household smoke detectors; and (3) atoms and bonds the very building blocks of our material world. This course also lays the framework for understanding many materials characterization tools and techniques including the pyrometer, the photo-multiplier tube, x-ray diffraction, absorption and emission spectroscopy, PPS, ASE, EPMA, XRF, TEM, LEED, and RBS.

*Science > Physics > Quantum Physics