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Department of Physics
Undergraduate Courses

Physics 448 Fall 2012: Atomic & Quantum Physics


First semester of a two-semester senior course. Review of atomic and other quantum phenomena and special relativity; introduction to quantum mechanics treating the more advanced topics of atomic physics and applications to molecular, solid state, nuclear, and elementary particle physics and quantum statistics. Experiments underlying this course are covered in Physics 407.

Prerequisites: Physics 205, 241, or 244, and Physics 311 and 322. Not open to those who have had Physics 531.

Instructor:   Thad Walker, 5322 Chamberlin, 262-4093,

Lectures: MWF 8:50, CHAMBERLIN 2241

Office Hours: MWF 7:00 - 8:30. TTh 8:00 - 9:30. Some days I may not be available. If you come by during office hours and I am not there, leave a note under the door and send me an email. I will make every effort to meet with you at the first opportunity.

Text: Quantum Mechanics by Basvedant & Dalibard. There are many good introductory quantum mechanics texts you might find helpful as well. These include Modern Quantum Mechanics by Sakurai, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by Griffiths, and Lectures on Quantum Mechanics by Baym, all of which are on reserve in the physics library. There will also be some handout supplements that will appear on the web page.

Required supplemental material: Mathematica. Computation is an important skill for any scientist to master. Mathematica is a particularly powerful tool for algebra, simulation, and graphics. I encourage you to use it for your homework, and there will be some work that will be required to do using Mathematica. A student version is available at DoIT for $25, and it is also available for your use on the physics library computers.

Grading: The final grade will be determined from a weighting of the three components listed below. The total homework score and each of the exam scores will be curved to a 80(A)-70(AB)-60(B)-50(BC)-40(C)-20(D) scale before a final grade judgement is made.

Homework: 25% of grade. Homework assignments will typically be due on Friday afternoons at 5:00, turned into the 448 slot next to Rennenbaum auditorium near our classroom. Late homework is not accepted. Just do it. The lowest homework score will be dropped. Each homework problem is worth 0-3 points and will be graded according to the following scale:




Tried but little progress


On the right path but significant errors


Correct or only minor errors

Historically, students who neglect their homework are at the greatest risk for low exam scores. I strongly urge you to work together in small groups, but the work you hand in should be your own. My solutions will be posted on the web page.

Exams: Two 50-minute exams, 40% of grade.  Expected exam dates are given below.

Final Exam: 35% of grade. Comprehensive. Time and Locations are TBA.

Web Page: Your source for homework assignments, solutions, etc.

Approximate Schedule:


Basdevant & Dalibard Chapter

Exam (Approx)

Basic Quantum Phenomena

1, Chapters from intro text

October 14

Matter Waves


Quantum Measurement


Energy Quantization


General Quantum Theory


Ammonia Maser


November 18

More General Theory


Stern-Gerlach Expt.


Approximation Methods


Angular Momentum I


Simple Atomic Theory


on Final

Magnetic Resonance


Angular Momentum II





Last updated: 11/11/2009

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