8.421 | Spring 2014 | Graduate

Atomic and Optical Physics I


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


8.05 Quantum Physics II

Main Topics

  • The two-state systems: Resonance
  • Atoms—electronic structure
  • Helium atom
  • Fine structure and Lamb shift
  • Hyperfine structure; Magnetic fields
  • Atoms in electric fields
  • Interaction of an Atom with an Electro-Magnetic Field
  • Einstein’s A and B coefficient
  • Saturation of transitions
  • Line shapes
  • Two-photon transitions
  • Coherence
  • Dicke superradiance


There will be ten problem sets. Assignments will usually be due one week after they have been handed out. There will be no quiz or final exam, but a term paper at the end of the course. This will be a paper in the style of a publication in Physical Review Letters on a topic of mutual interest. The term paper and the homework have equal weight for the total grade. The term paper will be due on the day of the last class.


Assignments 33
Midterm Quiz 33
Term paper 34


1 Resonance I  
2 Resonance II  
3 Resonance III  
4 Resonance IV  
5 Resonance V and Atoms I Homework 1 due
6 Atoms II Homework 2 due
7 Atoms III  
8 Atoms IV  
9 Atoms V and Atoms in External Fields I Homework 3 due
10 Atoms in External Fields II Homework 4 due
11 Atoms in External Fields III  
12 Atoms in External Fields IV and Atom-light Interactions I Homework 5 due
13 Atom-light Interactions II  
14 Atom-light Interactions III Homework 6 due
15 Atom-light Interactions IV  
16 Atom-light Interactions V Homework 7 due
17 Atom-light Interactions VI and Line Broadening I  
18 Line Broadening II  
19 Line Broadening III  
20 Line Broadening IV and Two-photon Excitation I Homework 8 due
21 Two-photon Excitation II and Coherence I  
22 Coherence II Homework 9 due
23 Coherence III  
24 Coherence IV Homework 10 due
25 Coherence V  

Course Info

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