This quarter's educational adventure

Materials Science 565 — Electron Theory of Materials. Way more quantum theory than I ever knew. Definitely getting my educational butt kicked. First homework question as an example:

bq. You were asked to design a composite material consisting of small Ag metal particles embedded into a dielectric media for laser applications. If the size of metal particles is small, electrons in the metal particles are confined as the potential barrier at the surface of the particles may be regarded as infinite. During the course of investigation, you were able to alter the shape of the metal particles into “cube” or “sphere”. You were then wondering how the shape of the particles influences on the distribution of energy levels and on the wavelength of the light at which the material would lase. You would like to answer the following questions…

So some links on lasers that seem helpful in various ways:

* Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology — this particular article has some simple info on laser efficiency
* Wikipedia laser diode article is useful
* Nice article on wtec.org discussing lightly “density of state” considerations