Book Reviews

Transport in Nanostructures, 2nd edition

D.K. Ferry, S.M. Goodnick and J. Bird
Cambridge University Press, 2009; $103.00 (hardcover).


This is a basic book for anyone eager to understand and research the areas of nanoelectronics, mesoscopic physics and nanotechnology. In more than 600 pages divided into nine chapters, the authors clearly explain the theories and experiments—which are essential for achieving a comprehensive understanding of the transport of carriers at the nanoscale. The book must be read carefully since many interesting concepts are raised that are not noted in the table of contents or paragraph titles, although most can be found by searching the extensive index. This second edition is one of the most important works available on nanoscale physics and devices. It is a must for any student or researcher who works in this area.

Review by Daniela Dragoman, Univ. of Bucharest physics faculty, Romania.

Electrical Properties of Materials, 8th ed.

L. Solymar and D. Walsh
Oxford University Press, N.Y., 2009; $55.00 (softcover).


The study of the electrical properties of materials is one of the most fascinating and notoriously difficult areas in physics. Recent impressive progress has been made in semiconductor lasers, organic semiconductors, magnetoresistance, metamaterials and spintronics. The subject has now been studied long enough and by a large enough number of researchers to garner a broad body of literature that poses many open questions to motivate future research.

In addition to standard subjects in solid-state physics, Solymar and Walsh's text offers complete coverage of the topics I mention above. Overall, this book is an invaluable source for graduate students and researchers who want to learn about the fascinating and flourishing areas of electrical and electronic engineering. It contains many carefully chosen exercises at a wide range of difficulty levels and many figures. I know several students of mine and colleagues who read earlier editions of the book, or at least parts of it, with pleasure and profit. I highly recommend it as a useful source for graduate and undergraduate courses on solid-state electronic devices as well as for individual studies. The care, clarity and scholarship are truly admirable.

Review by Christian Brosseau, an OSA Fellow and professor of physics at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France.

Introduction to THz Wave Photonics

X.-C. Zhang and J. Xu
Springer, N.Y., 2010; $129.00 (hardcover)


The term terahertz (THz) corresponds to the submillimeter wavelength range of the electromagnetic spectrum between 1 mm (the high-frequency edge of the microwave band) and 100 µm (the long-wavelength edge of far-infrared light). Situated in the gap between electronics and optics, the THz range of the electromagnetic spectrum has long been neglected by scientists and engineers due to a lack of efficient and affordable THz sources and detectors. The advent of femtosecond lasers in the 1980s and photoconductive switches in 1984 has made the THz gap accessible; at the same time, advances in electronics and optics have made it narrower.

Since THz radiation is non-ionizing and can penetrate plastics, it can used for near-field imaging, non-destructive evaluation and biomedicine. This book presents the latest research in developing THz areas such as generating and detecting pulsed electromagnetic waves along with an introduction to continuous wave THz technology. Because of the vastness of the field, the authors were unable to be all-inclusive and cover every aspect of THz photonics. However, because of the text's strong emphasis on fundamentals, it should be a useful reference for researchers and R&D engineers working in photonics and materials science as well as for students.

Review by Christian Brosseau, OSA Fellow and professor of physics at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France.

The Silicon Web: Physics for the Internet Age

Michael Raymer
Taylor & Francis, first edition, 2009; $89.95 (hardcover).


We learn by listening to stories, especially when they are about things that interest us. For students fascinated by computers and the Internet, Michael Raymer shows how it all comes down to physics. Instead of teaching math, and then physics, and then Internet concepts, the author shows how semiconductors and networks require a good understanding of physics "by discovery," introducing concepts as needed. Following a story that requires only high-school mathematics, the reader is transported from mechanics to thermodynamics, wave propagation, quantum mechanics and even to basic electronic engineering concepts.

The style is conversational and friendly, but the book moves swiftly into ever-more-complex topics. Each chapter includes exercises and formal references as well as suggested readings and a provocative section on the social impacts of technology. Diagrams and charts alternate with photos of high-tech devices and even cute illustrations (e.g., two cats chasing each other like a dual NOT circuit). A glossary and index are also provided. The book could be used for one or two semester courses, for one or more tracks of interest (computers, communications or modern physics), or just for independent study.

Review by Bogdan Hoanca, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, who has been doing research and consulting in fiber-optic communications for more than a decade.

The opinions expressed in the book review section are those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of OPN or OSA.

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