The Silicon Web : Physics for the Internet Age book cover
1st Edition

The Silicon Web
Physics for the Internet Age

ISBN 9781032340302
Published July 12, 2022 by CRC Press
600 Pages 590 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The technology behind computers, fiber optics, and networks did not originate in the minds of engineers attempting to build an Internet. The Internet is a culmination of intellectual work by thousands of minds spanning hundreds of years. We have built concept upon concept and technology upon technology to arrive at where we are today, in a world constructed of silicon pathways and controlled by silicon processors.

From computers to optical communications, The Silicon Web: Physics for the Internet Age explores the core principles of physics that underlie those technologies that continue to revolutionize our everyday lives. Designed for the nonscientist, this text requires no higher math or prior experience with physics. It starts with an introduction to physics, silicon, and the Internet and then details the basic physics principles at the core of the information technology revolution. A third part examines the quantum era, with in-depth discussion of digital memory and computers. The final part moves onto the Internet era, covering lasers, optical fibers, light amplification, and fiber-optic and wireless communication technologies.

The relation between technology and daily life is so intertwined that it is impossible to fully understand modern human experience without having at least a basic understanding of the concepts and history behind modern technology, which continues to become more prevalent as well as more ubiquitous. Going beyond the technical, the book also looks at ways in which science has changed the course of history. It clarifies common misconceptions while offering insight on the social impacts of science with an emphasis on information technology.

As a pioneering researcher in quantum mechanics of light, author Michael Raymer has made his own significant contributions to contemporary communications technology

Table of Contents

Introduction: Physics and Its Relation to Computer and Internet Technologies 
Physics, Silicon, and the “Magic” behind the Internet Age  
A Zoomed-In Look inside a Computer       
Timeline of Great Discoveries and Inventions in Physics and Computer and Communication Technologies  
The Methods and Significance of Science       
The Relation of Science and Information Technology   
Social Impacts: Science and Technology      

Mathematics: The Language of Science and Technology    
The Utility of Mathematics in Science and Technology   
Precision and Significant Digits          
Large and Small Numbers and Scientific Notation    
Real-World Example 2.1: Precision of Display Pixels    
Units for Physical Quantities          
Binary Numbers              
The Concept of Information           
Exponential Growth   
Social Impacts: The Exponential Change of Nearly Everything

Mechanics: Energy Enables Information Technology
From Looms to Computers        
Speed, Acceleration, and Force        
In-Depth Look 3.1: Distance Traveled under Constant Acceleration    
Real-World Example 3.1: Seek Time of a Hard-Drive Head
In-Depth Look 3.2: Net Force Vectors       
Real-World Example 3.2: Acceleration in Cathode-Ray Tubes
Principles of Mechanics           
Real-World Example 3.3: Force on a Hard-Drive Head    
The Physics of Energy            
Friction and Thermal Energy          
The Constancy of Energy           
Units for Mechanics            
Real-World Example 3.4: Motion Sensors in Laptops
Social Impacts: Scientific Thought and Methods Have Arguably Changed the Course of Human History More Than Anything Else

Matter and Heat: Cooling Computers is Required by the Physics of Computation
From Steam Engines to Computers
Matter and Atoms
Gases, Liquids, and Solids
In-Depth Look 4.1: Size and Numbers of Atoms
Real-World Example 4.1: Growing Silicon Crystals for Computer Chips

Pressure in a Gas
Pressure in a Liquid
Pumps, Current, and Resistance
Real-World Example 4.2: A Water-Pressure-Operated Computer
The Ideal Gas
Heat and Thermal Energy Transfer
Real-World Example 4.3: Cooling Computer Chips   
Principles of Thermodynamics: Extracting Work from Heat  
Cooling Computers is Required by the Physics of Computation             
Social Impacts: The Industrial Revolution and the Information Revolution    
Electricity and Magnetism: The Workhorses of Information Technology
Electricity and Magnetism Are the Basis of Computers and the Internet           
Electric Charge
In-Depth Look 5.1: The Concept of Plus and Minus Electric Charge
Electric Forces: Coulomb’s Law
In-Depth Look 5.2: The Discovery of the Electron
Electric Fields
In-Depth Look 5.3: Electric Field Lines
Electric Current and Conductors
Electrical Energy and Voltage
Real-World Example 5.1: Capacitor Computer Memory
Resistors, Conductors, and Ohm’s Law
Electrical Power 
Real-World Example 5.2: The Telegraph, Precursor to the Internet               
In-Depth Look 5.4: Magnetic Materials and Data Storage
Social Impacts: Innovation and Public Support of Science

Digital Electronics and Computer Logic
The “Reasoning” Abilities of Computers
Concepts of Logic
Electronic Logic Circuits
Logic Operations and Diagrams
Using Logic to Perform Arithmetic
Implementing Logic with Electromagnetic Switches
Supplemental Section: Boolean Search of Databases   
Chapter 7 Waves: Sound, Radio, and Light
Communicating with Sound, Radio, and Light     
Simple Harmonic Motion           
Damped and Complex Harmonic Motion       
Driven Harmonic Motion and Resonance      
In-Depth Look 7.1: Resonance Frequencies     
Real-World Example 7.1: Crystal Oscillators and Microprocessor Clocks            
Simple Harmonic Waves
Interference of Waves
In-Depth Look 7.2: Standing Waves
Sound Waves
In-Depth Look 7.3: Beats
Wireless Radio Waves
Real-World Example 7.2: AM Radio
Let There Be Light Waves
In-Depth Look 7.4: Light Polarization
Real-World Example 7.3: LCD Screens

Interference of Light            
Social Impacts: Music, Science and Technology     

Analog and Digital Communication
Communication Systems: Analog and Digital
Basics of Analog Radio
Basics of Digital Radio            
The Maximum Rate of Transmitting Data
Maximum Data Rate
Frequency Multiplexing and Bandwidth
In-Depth Look 8.1: Signal Reconstruction

Quantum Physics of Atoms and Materials
Atoms, Crystals, and Computers
The Quantum Nature of Electrons and Atoms
The Experiments behind Quantum Theory
In-Depth Look 9.1: Spectrum of Hydrogen Atoms
The Spinning of Electrons
The Principles of Quantum Physics
Building Up the Atoms
Real-World Example 9.1: Fluorescent Lamps
Electrical Properties of Materials
In-Depth Look 9.2: Origin of the Energy Gap in Silicon Crystals
In-Depth Look 9.3: Atomic Nature of Magnetic Domains
Social Impacts: Science, Mysticism, and Pseudo-Science

Semiconductor Physics: Transistors and Circuits
Silicon, Transistors, and Computers        
Controlling the Conductivity of Silicon       
p-n Junctions and Diodes          
Real-World Example 10.1: A Simple Crystal AM Radio Receiver
CMOS Computer Logic          
In-Depth Look 10.1: Water-Effect Transistors     
Miniaturization, Integrated Circuits, and Photolithography 
In-Depth Look 10.2: Bipolar Transistors     
Social Impacts: Labeling Every Object in the World
Digital Memory and Computers
Physics, Memory, and Computers        
Sequential Logic for Computer Memory     
Feedback Example #1: NOT Loop       
Feedback Example #2: One-Time Latch
Static Random-Access Memory        
In-Depth Look 11.1: SRAM with Six Transistors    
Dynamic Random-Access Memory       
Nonvolatile Memory           
In-Depth Look 11.2: Quantum Tunneling     
Magnetic Tape and Hard Disk Memory      
Optical Compact Disk Memory       
Error Immunity of Digital Data        
The Structure of a Computer         
Hierarchy of Computer Memory        
Heat-Imposed Limits of Computers      
Representing Information in Computers using Codes  
Coding Images             
Data Compression            

Photons: Light Detectors and Light Emitting Diodes
Light, Physics, and Technology
The Quantum Nature of Light—Photons
Power and Energy in Light
Absorption of Light by Atoms and Crystals (or “How Einstein Got His Nobel Prize”)
In-Depth Look 12.1: Inability of Constant Voltage to Accelerate Electrons in an Insulator      
Real-World Example 12.1: Semiconductor Light Detectors
Emission of Light by Atoms and Crystals
Real-World Example 12.2: Light-Emitting Diodes
Social Impacts: Lighting the Darkness (Efficiently)

Light and Optical Fibers for the Internet
Light as a Communication Medium
Propagation, Reflection and Transmission of Light
Light in Transparent Media
Refraction of Light at a Boundary
Reflection of Light at a Boundary
Total Internal Reflection
Prisms and Speeds of Different Colored Light
Lenses and Curved Mirrors
Optical Loss in Materials—The Clarity of Optical Fiber
Light Guiding
Optical Fibers
Light Pulses in Optical Fibers
Social Impacts: Total Immersion in a Sea of Information

Light Amplification and Lasers
Atoms and Lasers
The Uniqueness of Laser Light
Absorption and Emission of Light by Atoms
Laser Resonators
In-Depth Look 14.1: Laser Resonator Frequencies
How a Laser Works
The Helium-Neon Laser
In-Depth Look 14.2: Extreme Laser Facts
Variable-Color Semiconductor Lasers
Overcoming Losses in Fiber-Optic Systems
Quantum Physics Description of Lasers
The Semiconductor Diode Laser

Fiber-Optics Communication
Bandwidth and the Physics of Waves
Overview of Fiber-Optical Communication Systems
Modulating a Laser Beam with Data
Wavelength Multiplexing in Optical Communication
The Virtues of Lasers for Optical Communication
Hardware for Wavelength Multiplexing
Laser Beam Routing

Communication Networks and the Internet
The Physics behind the Internet
The Goals of Computer Communication Networks
Noise in Analog and Digital Systems
Challenges in Networking
Broadcasting Networks and Switching Networks
Failure-Resistant Communications
Wireless Mobile Cell Phone Networks
Propagation of Wireless Waves in Terrain
Summary of Scientific Notation and Units
Sources and Credits for Quotes Used with Permission

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Michael G. Raymer received his PhD from the University of Colorado in 1979. After a tenure on the faculty at the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, he moved to the University of Oregon in 1988, where he became founding Director of the Oregon Center for Optics. His research focuses on the quantum mechanics of light and its interaction with atoms, molecules, and semiconductors, with applications in nonlinear optics, communications technology, and quantum information. In 1993, his group reported the first instance of experimental quantum-state tomography of light. He has been honored as Fellow of both the American Physical Society and Optical Society of America. He has served on the Committee on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) Science, National Research Council, and Executive Committee of the American Physical Society's Division of Laser Science.


…the author shows how semiconductors and networks require a good understanding of physics ‘by discovery’ … . 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 … . Each chapter includes exercises and formal references as well as suggested readings and a provocative section on the social impacts of technology.
Optics & Photonics News (OPN), January 2011

Change the title of this excellent text to ‘Physics for the Internet Age: The Silicon Web’ as soon as possible to attract teachers of all introductory physics courses to look into this text for adoption with its many hints as a PER [Physics Education Research]-influenced text.
—Professor John L. Hubisz, North Carolina State University, The Physics Teacher, November 2010 

… a text perfect in itself and perfect for its time … . ideal for an undergraduate course required of all physical science, engineering, computer science, and mathematics majors.
Physics Today

[A] stunningly rich story about the Internet and its associated technologies … . The Silicon Web is an elegant and elaborate textbook, one that examines the science underlying the current revolution in communications technology. Each scientific concept arises on a need-to-know basis in the context of a particular … issue or device. All the important physics is here, but presented in an engaging way, with modern examples.
—From the Foreword by Louis A. Bloomfield, author of How Things Work