Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Witness to History Being Written...

Witness to History Being Written...

Abdulrahman Rafiq

(Written June 17, 2005, 3:25 am)

(Rough-Draft--unedited, pls disregard syntax, spelling, grammar errors--working on it.)

Sitting in Professor Umesh MishraÂ’s office, I just barely completed my second or third week at UCSB, fall 1997. Patiently awaiting my turn, as Professor Mishra was on the phone with a reporter from the Santa Barbara News Press.

A few days back his group had a breakthrough in demonstrating the InGaN/GaN Multiple Quantum Well (MQW) blue LASER. I had no idea what that meant, I was merely sitting there listening to Professor Mishra as he so eloquently explained in laymanÂ’s terms what this meant.

I had just transferred frofromom Moorpark College into the Physics Department at U.C. Santa Barbara. I had applied to the Electrical Engineering department, however since my application was refused I picked Physics as my alternate major. My intention was to try and transfer into the Electrical Engineering department after year; hence I started my first Quarter at UCSB by taking courses both in Physics and Electrical Engineering.

One of the first courses I took in Electrical Engineering was ECE132, “Introduction to Solid State Electronic Device,” thought by Professor Umesh Mishra. I was completely taken aback by Dr Mishra, his whole style of teaching, the way he explained the subject matter was so well done. He displayed a keen interest for the subject, which made Solid State Electronics extremely attractive for me. Subconsciously I wanted to be like Dr Mishra, I wanted to be a research Scientist, to work on cool projects.

Though, I recall I felt a little superior to my Engineering classmates, as I was Physics major and was being trained in more rigorous mathematics than they were; as most of what Engineering students do is number crunching, unlike us in Physics who derive all the formulas and equations from first principles. Sound a little arrogant, donÂ’t I?

Well what to expect, after Mishra got of the long phone interview in which he explained to the report from the news press that one of the benefits of the blue laser will be that we will be able to store more data on a CD, as the wavelength of the blue laser is significantly smaller than the that of the red (ruby) laser. Wow! That sounded so awesome to me, I was wishing I got be part of such an exciting project.

So when he got of the phone, I started very meekly, trying to look for the appropriate words and technical terms to ask my question. Dr Mishra got up from his desk and walked around to the other side, which is the side I was on. He walked rup to upto his white-board, and started explaining what I had just asked. I watched as he drew a Semiconductor band-gap picture on the board, drew a few lines to represent the energy levels, the Fermi energy level. A wiggly line pointing into the band-gap diagram was indicative of a photon hitting the semiconductor device, which resulted in an electron from the valence band gaining enough energy to cross the band-gap and move into the conductive band—in turn leaving a hole behind in the valence band.

What an interesting, mind grabbing explanation. However, then he proceeded to give me a hint on how to solve the homework question I was having trouble with. Where, frankly speaking he lost me. He scribbled an equation on my notepad and said here try and derive this. I looked at it, thought to myself “oh no…what in God’s name does that mean?” I was no more perplexed than before I walked into his office. I was sitting there, looking at the equation, looked up at Dr Mishra, he was smiling and then looked down, nodded, thanked him for his help and told him I will try and get back to him.

I walked out of his office feeling so down, as I had no idea what he wanted me do? How as I to proceed? This was one my first upper-division, 100 level classes I was taking. I thought this Engineering class would be a breeze, as compared to the other class I was taking in Physics on Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics, Physics119 with Professor Phil Pincus.

The only good thing that came out was that I learned something about the blue-laser. I was fascinated by this and wanted to know more. That evening I went home, dialed into my ISP and tried to search for some information on the World Wide Web, which at the time was still in its infancy.

*Professor Umesh MishraÂ’s website link/

Copyright C. Abdulrahman Rafiq

1 comment:

zensufi said...

Hallo... nicely written and interesting write-up! Got to check on the blue laser thing.