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Modern Physics: a Modern Approach

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Robert A Ross University of Detroit Mercy

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Robert A. Ross is a Professor of Physics in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Detroit Mercy. His research interests include semiconductor devices and physics pedagogy. Ross received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from Wayne State University in Detroit.

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The highest level physics course that an engineer is likely to take is Modern Physics, an upper-level class typically offered by the physics department. This course may be required for electrical or computer engineers as a prelude to a semiconductor device class.

Surveys of textbooks indicate that the curriculum for such courses has not changed much in a couple of decades. The table of contents of a typical text includes such topics as: relativity, quantization, the Bohr-Rutherford nuclear atom, wave-particle duality and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the Schrodinger equation, atomic physics, statistical physics, and various related applications. Virtually none of the popular texts include topics such as quantum entanglement and quantum computing.

Quantum entanglement provides correlations in the measurement of physical systems. These systems are usually electrons or photons. In any case, entanglement is the key feature of quantum computing systems and quantum cryptographic information transmission. As such, it is a topic of active current research and development.

In our paper we will describe a new method to introduce quantum mechanics, prior to the introduction of the Schrodinger equation. We use the results of recent published research in physics education to introduce students to the concept of simulated quantum computation. No claim is made toward the development of a quantum computer; instead we use a novel technique to simulate its operation. Students are introduced to the concept of a quantum bit or qubit and how the qubits are represented mathematically and how various operators affect them. They use linear algebra and matrix techniques that are familiar to students to develop a novel understanding of that which is quite unfamiliar – quantum mechanics.

Ross, R. A. (2018, June), Modern Physics: a Modern Approach Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30818

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