Quantum
physics is the foundation for much of modern technology, provides the framework
for understanding light and matter from the subatomic to macroscopic domains,
and makes possible the most precise measurements ever made. More than just a theory, it offers a way of
looking at the world that grows richer with experience and practice. Our course will provide some of that practice and teach
you "tricks of the trade" (not found in textbooks) that will enable you
to solve quantum-mechanical problems yourself and understand the subject
at a deeper level.

The
basic principles of quantum physics are actually quite simple, but they lead to
astonishing outcomes. Two examples that
we will look at from various perspectives are the prediction of the laser by
Albert Einstein in 1917 and the prediction of antimatter by Paul Dirac in 1928. Both of these predictions came from very
simple arguments in quantum theory, and led to results that transformed science
and society. Another familiar
phenomenon, magnetism, had been known since antiquity, but only with the advent
of quantum physics was it understood how magnets worked, to a degree that made
possible the discovery in the 1980’s of ultrastrong rare-earth magnets. However, lasers, antimatter and magnets are
areas of vibrant research, and they are all encountered in the new field of
ultracold atomic physics that will provide much of the material of “Exploring
Quantum Physics”.

Richard
Feynman once said, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum
mechanics.” We say, that’s no reason not
to try! What Feynman was referring to are some of the “spooky” phenomena like quantum entanglement, which are incomprehensible from the standpoint of classical physics. Even though they have been thoroughly tested by experiment, and are even being exploited for applications such as cryptography and logic processing, they still seem so counterintuitive that they give rise to extraordinary ideas such as the many-world theory. Quantum physics combines
a spectacular record of discovery and predictive success, with foundational
perplexities so severe that even Albert Einstein came to believe that it was
wrong. This is what makes it such an
exciting area of science!

Syllabus

Lecture 1: Introduction to quantum mechanics. Early experiments. Plane waves and wave-packets
Lecture 2: Interpretation and foundational principles of quantum mechanics Lecture 3: Feynman formulation of quantum theory.
Lecture 4: Using Feynman path integral. Quantum-to-classical correspondence Lecture 5: Back to the Schrödinger picture: bound states in quantum potential wells
Lecture 6: Cooper pairing in the theory of superconductivity Lecture 7: Harmonic oscillator. Solution using creation and annihilation operators
Lecture 8: Classical and quantum crystals. Collective excitations in crystals - phonons Lecture 9: Atomic spectra Lecture 10: Quantum theory: old and new Lecture 11: Solving the Schrödinger equation Lecture 12: Angular momentum and the Runge-Lenz vector Lecture 13: Electrical properties of matter
Lecture 14: Gauge potentials, spin and magnetism Lecture 15: Quantum gases, quantum cryptography and quantum games Lecture 16: Topological states of quantum matter

A challenging advanced physics class, not for dilettantes. Not really intended as a first introduction to quantum mechanics, this course is aimed at upper-level undergraduates or lower-level grad students in physics and related fields. You should be comfortable with complex numbers, partial differential equations, and linear operators before starting this class.

The presentation is uneven. Professor Galitski covers the first half of the class and his lectures are difficult but relatively understandable. The homework assignments are much easier than the difficulty of the lectures w…

A challenging advanced physics class, not for dilettantes. Not really intended as a first introduction to quantum mechanics, this course is aimed at upper-level undergraduates or lower-level grad students in physics and related fields. You should be comfortable with complex numbers, partial differential equations, and linear operators before starting this class.

The presentation is uneven. Professor Galitski covers the first half of the class and his lectures are difficult but relatively understandable. The homework assignments are much easier than the difficulty of the lectures would suggest. Professor Clark covers the second half of the class. His lectures are also difficult and somewhat less easy to understand. The homework assignments for this part of the course are much harder. The final exam is also very hard.

I would not buy the recommended textbook co-written by Galitski. I paid over $60 for it and did not find it helpful at all for this class. It seems to be written at a higher level than this class and is more a book of (advanced) worked problems than a tutorial. A book like Griffiths' Introduction to Quantum Mechanics would have been more helpful.

by
Francescocompleted this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.

Great class, not for the absolute beginner. You need to have taken an introductory class or studied a textbook (with exercises!) before attempting it. The lectures require a good level of physical and mathematical maturity.