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September 25, 2023


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How does the resistance of a conductor change as we shrink its length
all the way down to a few atoms? This is a question that has
intrigued scientists for a long time, but it is only during the last
twenty years that it has become possible for experimentalists to
provide clear answers, leading to enormous progress in our

There is also great applied interest in this question
at this time, since every computer we buy has about a billion
transistors that rely on controlling the flow of electrons through a
conductor a few hundred atoms in length.

In this series of four lectures (total length ~ 5-6 hours) Datta
attempts to convey the physics of current flow in nanodevices in
simple physical terms, stressing clearly what is understood and what
is not. In Lecture 1, "Nanodevices and Maxwell's demon", Datta
attempts to convey the subtle interplay of dynamics and
thermodynamics that is the hallmark of transport physics using an
electronic device reminiscent of the demon imagined by Maxwell in the
nineteenth century to illustrate the limitations of the second law of
thermodynamics. Lecture 2 ("Electrical Resistance: A simple model")
explains many important concepts like the quantum of conductance
using a simple model that Datta uses routinely to teach an
undergraduate class on Nanoelectronics. Lecture 3 ("Probabilities,
wavefunctions and Green's functions) describes the full quantum
transport model touching on some of the most advanced concepts of
non-equilibrium statistical mechanics including the Boltzmann
equation and the non-equilibrium Green function (NEGF) formalism and
yet keeping the discussion accessible to advanced undergraduates.
Finally in Lecture 4 ("Coulomb blockade and Fock space") Datta
explains the limitations of the current models and speculates on
possible directions in which the field might evolve.

Overall the objective is to convey an appreciation for
state-of-the-art quantum transport models far from equilibrium,
assuming no significant background in quantum mechanics or
statistical mechanics.

Course Curriculum

  • CQT Lecture 1: Nanodevices and Maxwell’s Demon Unlimited
  • CQT Lecture 2: Electrical Resistance – A Simple Model Unlimited
  • CQT Lecture 3: Probabilities, Wavefunctions and Green Functions Unlimited
  • CQT Lecture 4: Coulomb blockade and Fock space Unlimited
  • McCoy Lecture: Nanodevices and Maxwell’s Demon Unlimited
  • PASI Lecture: Nanodevices and Maxwell’s Demon, Part 1 Unlimited
  • PASI Lecture: Nanodevices and Maxwell’s Demon, Part 2 Unlimited
  • HCIS-15 Lecture: Nanodevices and Maxwell’s Demon Unlimited

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