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What is Quantum Electronics?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 21, 2024
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In the field of quantum electronics, scientists study the interaction of radiation and matter on the quantum level. Utilizing knowledge from electronics and physics, scientists in this field have made many advancements in optics and radio physics. Machines such as the Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (laser) and the Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (maser) are particularly useful in the field of quantum electronics.

Quantum theory is accepted by scientists to be the basic theory of physics that unifies all physical devices. As such, any electronic device may be considered to be a quantum electronic device. Most scientists, however, understand quantum electronic devices to be only those devices that stimulate transitions between quantum energy levels. Lasers and masers are the primary devices used in quantum electronics, as each of these focuses energy into a tight, focused beam. Transistors and superconductors may use the principles of quantum mechanics, but they are not usually considered to be quantum electronic devices.

In quantum electronics, the transitions between quantum energy levels are of particular import. Atoms, molecules and other quantum systems contain excited particles. These systems can only contain certain, strictly defined, amounts of energy. When a system gives off electromagnetic radiation, in the form of light or radio waves, it moves from a higher energy level to a lower one. Lasers and masers can be used to excite these atoms or molecules into higher states of energy.

Lasers are one of the main devices used in quantum electronics. These machines radiate light waves in a focused beam within a narrow range of radiation. This makes the light that a laser emits monochromatic, whereas most light sources emit multiple colors of light, even if the light appears to the eye to contain only one color.

Lasers are important in both research and solving practical problems. The light from a laser does not diffuse heat and lacks an electric charge. A laser can operate within corrosive gases and in a vacuum. They are useful in measuring distance with great accuracy, optical communications and thermonuclear fusion.

Another tool that is commonly used in quantum electronics is the maser. These devices emit microwave radiation in a focused beam. The frequency of these microwaves is stable and does not deteriorate as readily as standard microwaves do. The application of this machine allows communication towers that emit sound waves in the microwave radiation range to send information over great distances with little distortion.

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Discussion Comments
By nony — On Aug 29, 2011

@everetra - I read about a new breakthrough for quantum electronics, quantum dots. The quantum dot is an incredibly small particle, a billionth of a meter in length.

Scientists have been able to manipulate the size of these dots, and based on the size, the dots emit colors from the blue to the red end of the light spectrum. I imagine that these dots would be used in quantum electronics as well, using the lasers or masers as the tools to adjust the dots and the resulting color of the light.

I think that it could be used in a wide variety of applications, from flat panel televisions to computers.

By everetra — On Aug 28, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - I read books like Quantum Physics for Dummies and it was a great introduction to the subject. I also read some other books as well, which were a bit more heady, but I was able to digest the material.

The thing about quantum physics which intrigues me is its obsession with the whole notion of uncertainty. There is even a principle for this, called the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, which says that the more precisely you know the location of a particle, the less you know its momentum and vice versa.

I am guessing that, as of yet anyway, this does not present a problem with quantum electronics. I assume that scientists don’t need to know both the location and momentum of particles at the same time as they manipulate them through laser light.

By SkyWhisperer — On Aug 28, 2011

I have always been fascinated with the discoveries made of the new quantum reality. I saw a television show which explained the difference between quantum mechanics and the regular physics that we observe in our world.

In short, the two worlds are different – almost contradictory at times. Particles at the “nano” level behave in a different way than objects at the macro level do. What makes it weird is that the nano particles are part and parcel of the bigger objects.

How can we reconcile the two? I don’t think we can, and that has been the problem with creating a grand unified field theory of physics.

Anyway, I’m certainly not an expert, but reading about how we can begin to manipulate matter at the quantum level using lasers is an exciting development. I think we are on the cutting edge of a new kind of reality.

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