8.421 | Spring 2014 | Graduate

Atomic and Optical Physics I


Term Paper

The goal of the term paper is to investigate a problem in contemporary AMO (atomic, molecular, and optical) physics and to describe it lucidly and succinctly. If you have an original idea or proposal for a new theoretical project or an experiment of your own-even an experiment that doesn’t appear worth doing or is ultimately unworkable—that would be splendid. However, a review of some topic of contemporary research is perfectly acceptable, or if you want to extend a topic that was covered only briefly in class. The topic should not strongly overlap with your own research, but may be related. The length of the paper should be comparable, but not exceed that of a letter in Physical Review Letters (i.e. should have 15k–20k characters max). Follow the general style of PRL, including a short abstract and the convention for references. Illustrations may be sketched by hand or copied from the literature (with acknowledgment), either inserted in the text or collected at the end.

The paper is due on the last day of class. The grade will be based on physics contents (whether the important scientific parts are covered) and on clarity of exposition and style.

Possible Topics for Term Papers

The following is a list of suggested topics. Check with the instructor if you would like to choose some other topic. This is your opportunity to choose the topic in which you have always been interested, but never found the time to elaborate on it! You might get ideas by browsing through recent conference proceedings or recent issues of Phys. Rev. Lett. In many cases, it might get you started with some references.

Cooling and Trapping of Neutral Atom

  • Optical cooling below the recoil limit (Raman cooling and VSCPT)
  • Cold excited-state collisions and trap loss
  • Photoassociation spectroscopy of ultracold atoms
  • The scattering length and ultracold ground state collisions
  • Optical lattices
  • Collective excitations of Bose-Einstein condensates
  • Atomic waveguides, hollow fibers etc.
  • State of the art in atom lithography
  • Superfluidity in Bose-Einstein condensates
  • BCS pairing in ultracold fermions
  • Atoms with SU(N) symmetry (earth alkaline)
  • Synthetic gauge fields

Cold Molecules

  • Cooling molecules
  • Possible experiments with trapped molecules
  • Long range molecules: Molecules only bound by the long-range van der Waals force

Atom Like Systems

  • NV Centers in diamond
  • Micromechanical oscillators

Quantum Optics

  • Normal-mode splitting in cavity QED
  • Single atoms in optical cavities
  • Recent experiments on squeezed light
  • The one-atom maser or one atom laser
  • Quantum non-demolition experiments of photon states in cavities
  • Inhibited spontaneous emission and other properties of the vacuum in confined space
  • The Casimir force: Recent experiments on the Casimir-Polder retarded potential
  • Loss of coherence in a microwave cavity (Haroche’s recent work)
  • Lasing without inversion
  • Electromagnetically induced transparency
  • Quantum non-demolition measurement of a single photon
  • Quantum teleportation

Ion Trapping

  • Cooling of ions
  • Frequency standards with trapped ions
  • Entangled states
  • Quantum computation
  • Shelving, photon anti-bunching and quantum jumps of trapped ions
  • Non-classical states of trapped ions (Schroedinger’s cat)

Precision Experiments

  • Parity non-conservation in atoms
  • Current experiments for the determination of the Rydberg constant
  • Time-reversal experiments in atoms
  • Optical lattice clocks
  • The Heisenberg limit in precision (1/N scaling)
  • Anti-hydrogen
  • Ultrahigh laser resolution spectroscopy
  • Direct measurements of optical frequencies using frequency chains
  • Spectroscopy of positronium

Atom Interferometry

  • Atom interferometers as rotational and gravitational sensors
  • The Aharonov-Casher and Bohm-Aharanov effect; Berry’s topological phase
  • Which way detection and quantum eraser

Quantum Measurements

  • Determination of the density matrix (Wigner function)
  • Quantum non-demolition experiments
  • Realizations of Schroedinger’s cat
  • Search for non-linearities in quantum mechanics
  • Quantum cryptography, or quantum teleportation
  • Non-exponential decay: Discuss why the decay of an excited atom is not purely exponential.

Atomic and Molecular Structure

  • Doubly excited atoms, planetary atoms
  • Atoms in high electric and magnetic fields
  • Molecular spectroscopy close to the dissociation limit
  • Wave packets in Rydberg atoms

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2014
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Problem Sets
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