Quantum transport: atom to transistor

Quantum transport: atom to transistor 
Supriyo Datta 
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press | 2005 | 418pp | ?40 (HB) | ISBN 0521631459 
Reviewed by John Barker 

Quantum transport theory is concerned with understanding and predicting electrical current flow in open systems ranging from atoms and manmade nanostructures to transistors. The subject conceals an outstanding theoretical problem that remains from the 19th century: how do the time-reversible equations of microscopic dynamics give rise to macroscopic irreversible phenomena such as Ohmic conduction?  

This is a deep and technically complex field. It has attracted considerable attention recently as researchers attempt to push transistor technology to its atomic limits and begin to explore the alternative possibilities of molecular electronics, carbon-nanotube switches and quantum computing.The problem for investigators in industry and academia alike is that quantum transport theory is part of non-equilibrium many-body quantum statistical mechanics, a field notorious for its emphasis on mathematical concepts.  

Although very beautiful experiments have been devised to explore quantum transport phenomena in mesoscopic structures, the precise simulation and design of practical devices is not at all easy. In fact, in many instances it is still highly controversial. 

In recent years, scientists have developed a powerful practical technique based on Green function methods for calculating transport through small open systems. Supriyo Datta is one of its leading exponents and his new textbook makes a valiant and fascinating effort to use the formalism to provide a simple exposition of quantum transport on the atomic scale.  

Despite the claims, this is most definitely a book for post-graduate level. For full benefit it will require a sound understanding of quantum mechanics as used in solid state physics or chemistry.  

It is more accessible, more embracing and a much better read than his earlier monograph Electronic transport in mesoscopic systems. It contains excellent examples, good breadth and progressive detail and is of real value to electronic engineers, physicists, and chemists researching modern interdisciplinary nanoelectronics.