Quantum Code Developed at Purdue University Could Tackle Problems from Semiconductors to Commodities

A unique library of computer code, built on equations derived for quantum mechanics, could be used to model problems as diverse as the flow of electrons through a nanoscale device or the price of copper in a commodities market. Begun more than a decade ago through the Nanoelectronic Modeling Group at Purdue University, elements of the library are today used by Intel for advanced transistor designs, while the most current version is available for commercial licensing through Silvaco Inc., or free to academics through the Purdue Research Foundation. The core capabilities of the NanoElectron MOdeling Tool suite, known in its fifth iteration as NEMO5, are highly specialized atomic-resolution calculations of nanostructure properties – strain relations, phonon modes, electronic structure, self-consistent Schrödinger-Poisson calculations, and quantum transport. But don’t let the quantum-scale concepts deter you. While the math is complex, the concept is as familiar as a pebble tossed into a quiet pond. “What we’re really solving are wave equations,” said Tillmann Kubis, a research assistant professor in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and developer of the NEMO5 suite. “These equations describe resonances from fundamental entities –an electron, a proton, a muon and so forth— but in the end, it’s just waves. People think it’s counter-intuitive, but any child can get the experience of wave equations by throwing stones into a pond and watching what happens to the waves.” 

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