I:IntroductionComputing, as a definition, is the usage of computers1.Computer run on two vital parts which both contribute to make it work. Theseparts are hardware and software. Hardware being the physical components such asthe motherboard, the memory, the microchips and countless other parts whichcomprise a computer, and some so small which they rely.
Software being thecomputer programs, algorithms, the operating systems as well as the programminglanguages. Modern refers to the present day2 andquantum mechanics refers to the interactions of subatomic particles, whichinclude electrons. II:Logic and Software – Modern Computing is not reliant on Quantum PhysicsThe first step towards the computer was Boolean Logic. Logic was first experimented with during thetime of the philosophers, including Aristotle who wrote a book with stretched 6parts long called the Organon. It was widely believed that Aristotle hadwritten all there was to write on the topic,making it the standard for over 2000 years. His laws of logic included the Lawof Contradiction, of Excluded Middle and principle of identity which were trulyrevolutionary3.The next step in this story is that of George Boole whocoined Boolean logic in the late 19th century, which can solve manyalgebraic equations with using the numbers zero and one.
He proved this in manyof his books including his investigation into the laws of thought whichdirectly worked upon Aristotle’s work4.He used so-called “gates” which perform operations on the values resulting in anotherresult of either zero or one. The gates were “AND”,” OR” and “NOT”5and can be used to perform calculations. Boole’s research’s applications were discovered by ClaudeShannon in his master’s thesis (1938) where he described how Boolean logiccould be used in circuits and in computers. His paper titled “A symbolicanalysis of Relay and Switching” details how an electronic combination lockcould be made from switches purely6.This manipulation of two simple numbers is used to process instructionsproduced by the computer by operations such as addition and subtraction.
Byusing two AND gates as well as an OR and a NOT gate, binary adders can be madewhich can be combined to do all operations7. The early mechanical computers were made using these gates inthe form of pins and sliding plates as built byKonrad Zuse during the 1930s8and they increased in size as well as processing power rapidly. IBM used 3500relays to create a calculator which could perform calculations suchas addition and subtraction and used electromagnets to move relays9.Today, Boolean Logic is used to create computer programs as well as theirprocessing; this is achieved through the thousands of calculations which areperformed every second by a computer which are vital to its operation.
Thesecalculations are not done as a human would, but use solely Binary numbers toprocess and convey information. The switches mentioned before transferred tothe transistor which is an extremely small device which makes up memory andmicroprocessors. Microprocessors perform arithmetical andlogical functions and form the processing unit of a computer (CPU)10 whereasmemory chips store information and results of calculations11,showing that integral parts of the usage of a computer are operated usingBoolean Logic. III:First Solid-State Devices: Modern Computing does not rely on Quantum Physics The firsttransistor was patented in 1925 by Edgar Julius Lilienfeld, a Polish scientist12,and composed of a simple PNP structure (this refers to the charge). It isbelieved that Lilienfeld was not aware of quantum physics to any great extent but based his patent on traditionalphysics.
This shows how modern computing does not rely on quantum physics- agreat understanding of electricity and classical physics led Lilienfeld to thefirst transistor and this is the same with other solid-state devices which havelarge quantum aspects. Another example of this is the crystal radio which useda “cat’s whisker” diode during the 1920s13.It was used as an amplifier, and people found the correct materials to do sucha task before quantum physics was at allunderstood. This makes it clear that modern computers could have been builtwithout the knowledge of quantum physics although it would take longer toimprove them significantly as well as make them the size they are today due toamplified quantum effects.
A further example of “finding the right material” isthe selenium rectifier. It was in commercial production by the 1930s, but theeffects of its components were noted as early as 1822 and could do some of thetasks of the transistor, only slower and it was larger – normally 1 square inch14.Through experimentation, Lilienfeld patented a device which he did notunderstand fully how it would work, but it did nonetheless. This scientificmethod is common throughout history andshows in one aspect that transistors could have neem developed withoutreferring to quantum theories. IV: The Transistor- Modern Computing is reliant on QuantumPhysics The previously mentioned Booleanlogic is implemented into the computer through the transistor.
They act aseither amplifiers or switches and can be part of microprocessors or memoryunits.The firstsuch computers were constructed at the Universityof Manchester which, in 1953, had a 200-transistor computer15.The advancement to today is the development of integrated circuits which aremuch more efficient as well as smaller transistors and faster computers. Forexample, the A11 bionic chip which powers the iPhone X has over 4 billiontransistors inside16which requires mass precision, especially with the materials which are used. Amaterial which is commonly used is silicon which has been subjected to atomicimpurities. This is called doping and is a method reliant solely on quantumphysics.
Transistors are composed of “A base member of suitable insulatingmaterial…. And a pair of conducting members” according to the patent of thefirst transistor, by Edger Julius Lilienfeld17.The members being referred to are known as semiconductors which have partialconductive and insulative properties- it can both stop an electrical currentand allow it through. There are three such layers of semiconductors which haveeither a negative or positive charge.Beginning our introduction to quantum physics, the Bohr modelof the atom must be understood. An atom is the smallest part of an elementwhich is still that element and it looks somewhat like a solar system.
Anucleus in the middle which has positively charged protons and neutral neutronswith a mass, which is orbited by negative electrons with negligible mass18.However,this commonly taught model of the atom is incorrect due to a quantum concepttheorised by Louis De Broglie who described particles with wavelike properties.This is today known as wave-particle dualityand can explain some effects of the interactions of subatomic particles19.Thecorrect atomic model is much different, but itincludes, electrons occupying certain places outside the nucleus. These areas are known as bands and in theoutside band of electrons, electrons which gain some energy can “break free” fromthe atom and become delocalised electrons. In conductors, a small amount ofenergy is required to move, in insulators, large amounts of energy are neededto move and in semiconductors, a moderate amount of energy is needed. This isknown as the Band theory and defines the amount of energy needed to move in the Fermi level20.
However, the position of the level can be changed by injecting or taking away electronsinto the material which is known as doping. Another quantum concept to beunderstood is the wavefunction which shows the values of two differentproperties of an electron (momenta and position) in a spread-out fashion, andthe Heisenberg uncertainty principle which states you cannot measure these twovalues without disrupting the other21. Thereare some values which refer to the atom and the electrons specifically whichare called quantum numbers and include the quantum principle number22.The Pauli exclusion principle states that no two electrons in an atom may havethe same quantum numbers23 whichhas led to an important effect in bonding. Semiconductors are made of crystals -materials includesilicon and germanium where atoms are joined together with four bonds sharing 2electrons with adjacent atoms24. Thistype of bonding is called covalent, wherein two non-metals become unreactive bysharing some of their electrons 25. Inthe orderly formation of the crystal, some foreign atoms are injected, eitherwith one extra or one less electron than the base material. The foreign atomstry to bond with the structure andimitate the lattice atoms by losing or taking an electron from the outsideshell.
They, therefore, add one electron to the delocalised electrons or takeone away which is known as a hole26.If an electron is removed from the delocalised electrons, a positivesemiconductor and if an electron is gained to the delocalised electrons, anegative semiconductor is created because electrons have a charge of -12728. The properties of these semiconductors are virtually thesame, but for different reasons. The free electrons from N-type push other electrons, and the holes fromP-type displace other electrons29.When two oppositely charge semiconductors are formedtogether, the current of electrons has different properties. For example, whenone P and one N are made together, they completely stop the flow of electricityin one direction (known as a diode). This is because of free electrons moveinto free holes which creates a 0-charge area.
When three layers are createdtogether they form a system of an emitter,a base and a collector. The collector sends electricity towards the emitter andthe base acts as a valve, controlling the current (flow of electrons). Thissystem allows the flow to be amplified or turned off allowing the transistor toact as an amplifier or a switch30.Because of their usage especially as a switch, transistors are now absolutely vitalto the everyday computer usage that is common, making them extremely importantto modern computing. This point is reinforced by the significance of theinvention of the transistor- titles include; “The transistor: The mostimportant invention of the 20th century”31, “Transistors and the computer revolution” 32and “Why are transistorsso important?”33. The significance of these miniature devicesis not to be underestimated as they are exceedingly important. As our computersget faster and more efficient, computer manufacturers need to multiply thenumber of transistors in their microprocessors and make smaller transistors- atransistor gate with a size of 1 nanometre which is equivalent to 0.
000000001metres34. Because of these increasinglysmall transistors, atoms are, in proportionlarger than they once were. Due to this, the effects of quantum physics, aswell as the behaviours of subatomic particles, are more prominent andunpredictable35.
As a result, more advanced physics must be used to further develop faster computersand quantum physics is relied on more. Futurecomputing (possibly quantum computing) will certainly be a product of quantumphysics as we must constantly seek it for guidance.V:Conclusion In thebeginning of this report, I said I would assess and conclude whether moderncomputing is reliant on quantum physics or not. There are some compellingarguments- for- binary and logic were created by mathematicians- transistorsand other solid-state devices were established before quantum physics andagainst- transistors are miniaturised by quantum physical effects, and that thespeed of computers is reliant on this. In addition to this, the next generationof computers (quantum computers) will be powered by quantum concepts. Judgingby these conclusions, modern computing is slightly reliant on quantum physics.Yes, the understanding of the world of the quantum has allowed us to make better, smaller and faster siliconsemiconductors, but the transistor design has been changing as well as softwareand the efficient implementation of transistors into the computer architecture.
In conclusion- Modern Computing reliessomewhat on quantum physics. 1 https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/computing2 https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/modern3 https://www.britannica.
com/topic/laws-of-thought Britannica- Laws of Thought article 4 https://archive.org/stream/investigationofl00boolrich#page/264/mode/2up Boole, George.An investigation into the laws of thought, 1854 p2645 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-30376235 BBC. George Boole and the AND OR NOT gates, 2014.
6 Shannon, Claude. A Symbolic Analysis of Relay andSwitching Circuits 1938 (A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits)7 http://www.kerryr.net/pioneers/boolean.htm What’s So Logical about Boolean Algebra 8 http://history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Relays/Zuse.html9 http://www.
computerhistory.org/revolution/digital-logic/12/10 http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/microprocessor-logic-chip11https://www.techopedia.com/definition/27619/memory-chip12 Patent US 1745175A.
Julius Lilienfeld, Edgar. 1925 13https://www.electronics-notes.com/articles/history/radio-receivers/cats-whisker-crystal-types.php14 Encyclopaedia ofChemical Processing and Design: Volume 49, John J. McKetta Jr.
com/apple-a11-chip-cores-10nm-everything-is-here/17 Lilienfeld, Julius Edgar. Method and apparatus forcontrolling electric currents, Patent US1745175A18http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/add_ocr_gateway/periodic_table/atomstrucrev7.shtml19 https://www.allaboutcircuits.
com/textbook/semiconductors/chpt-2/quantum-physics/20 https://www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/zppnn39/revision21 Carrol, Sean.
“From Eternity to Here”, 200922 http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.
co.uk/education/guides/zppnn39/revision/228Gribbin, John. “In search of Schrödinger’s Cat”, 198429 http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Solids/dope.html#c430 http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/Solids/trans.html#c231https://www.computerworld.com/article/2538123/computer-processors/the-transistor–the-most-important-invention-of-the-20th-century-.html32http://ethw.org/Transistors_and_the_Computer_Revolution33 https://sciencing.com/transistors-important-5407975.html34http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2016/10/06/smallest-transistor-1-nm-gate/35http://www.pbs.org/transistor/background1/events/transfuture.html