Theoretical Semiconductor Physics (Peter Vogl)
Semiconductors can be anorganic or organic systems, magnetic or nonmagnetic, highly conducting or insulating, form chains, clusters, cylinders, needles, glasses, or perfectly arranged crystals, their electrons can be arranged to form 2-, 1- or 0-dimensional systems - strange objects that seemed hypothetic a few years ago. Today, however, these structures form the key elements of next generation electronic and optical devices that are being developed world wide. This group develops sophisticated theoretical methods to predict, explain, understand, and control a wide variety of such systems.
How small can a computer, a circuit, a transistor, or a laser be made? Can one design electronic nano-switches that consume no power? How fast can we communicate information inside of a device? How much information can we store on a square nanometer? How do atoms behave when we arrange them in chains, rings, nets, clusters, pyramids, doughnuts? What happens when....
Questions of this kind cannot be answered by making or constructing something. The first step requires a theory and, above all, imagination. The way to proceed is to develop a model that incorporates the physical laws as well as we understand them, focuses on a particular aspect that we feel most essential or promising and work out a possible solution in our mind or in the computer. In our daily work as semiconductor theorists, we design a new material, a new structure, a new device, or we develop a new mathematical or computational method that allows us to tackle complex problems more easily or efficiently. The real fun is to work out predictions that can be checked experimentally.
In most cases, those experiments lead to a lot of surprises, puzzling results that nobody had anticipated. Those surprises are what makes physics so fascinating. Remember that a condensed matter system is a formidably complex system. While we believe to know the basic physical laws that govern the motion of the 1023 electrons and nuclei in a rock, in a semiconductor, as well as in a human being, it is and will always remain an extraordinary challenge to grasp even a tiny bit of the complexity and the vast range of phenomena induced by these many particles.
Are you considering to join us? We do theory in an environment where new experimental data, new materials, new devices pop up all the time and where our predictions can be checked just next door. Why don't you check our areas of research to get a better idea of why theory is not only relevant and fascinating - it is a lot of fun.