Chem./Phys. 065:

The Nature of Electronic Materials: Deconstructing Your Computer

Y. Ijiri, Wright 210, x6484,

S.L. Stoll, Kettering 153, x8941,

Office hours: TBA

Content and goals:

The discovery of materials has been an important engine in the development of new technologies. The dramatic impact on society is illustrated by the way materials have defined eras such as the Iron Age. This course provides an introduction to very recent technologies, focusing on the fascinating and diverse materials that comprise the common desktop computer. An emphasis will be placed on understanding the electronic, magnetic, and optical characteristics which are necessary for computer applications.


There are no prerequisites for this course, as the relevant physics and chemistry will be developed and discussed in class and through assigned reading.


Two texts are required for this course, Philip Ball's "Designing the Molecular World" and his more recent book "Made to Measure." Additional articles will be placed on reserve in the library.

Reading assignments and problem sets:

Reading assignments will be given at the beginning of each unit. Resources for both the basic chemistry and physics will be available in Kettering Library. Problem sets will be given out a week before the due date; the lowest homework grade will be dropped. Late homework will not be accepted without specific permission and then only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. as a result of illness, etc.).


Two closed book, in-class exams will be given, one on March 15th and the second on April 26th.

Final project:

You will be asked to write a 5 page paper exploring a particular aspect of computers which we will not address much in class. Examples include battery technologies and biocomputers. The paper is due on May 8th. With a partner, you will also make a 10 minute presentation to the class on either May 8th or May 10th.


Evaluation will be based on two in-class exams (50%), the final project (20%), problem sets (20%), and class participation (10%).