Fall 2018 Syllabus Physics 55200/V3600


PHYSICS 55200-U3600: Quantum Physics II

SYLLABUS, Fall 2018


Alexios P. Polychronakos




Instructor: Alexios Polychronakos, Room J312A, Marshak Science Building;

(212) 650-5536; apolychronakos@ccny.cuny.edu


Office hours: Tuesday and Thursday 11am-12pm or, preferably, by appointment on an as-needed basis. Call or email to schedule. Unscheduled visits are not guaranteed audition! All students are invited to submit their email address to the instructor so that important class material and information can be communicated efficiently and independently of Blackboard or Cunyfirst. The email addresses will be kept strictly confidential and will be put in the “hidden” field of any collective class mailings. Messages will also be sent through the Cunyfirst system to all officially enrolled students. I regret that I will not operate within social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.)


Material: This course will cover advanced notions of quantum mechanics, including spin, perturbation theory, the WKB approximation, quantum statistical mechanics and scattering theory; EM interactions and Landau levels will be covered if time permits.


Textbook: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, David Griffiths (2nd Edition), Pearson/Prentice Hall (required). Supplementary lecture notes may be distributed.


Prerequisites: Physics 551 or equivalent; calculus and linear algebra.


Structure of lectures: Lectures will cover theory, work out examples and solve problems as needed. There will be no strict separation between “theory” and “recitation” or “problem solving” sessions.

The pace of the lectures will adapt to the needs of the class and the actual time needed to cover the material, and will accelerate as the course progresses. No strict timeline will be offered at this time. Here is a tentative list of topics:


Preliminary Exam (for assessment purposes only)                       Review of quantum mechanical formalism

Review of Angular Momentum and Spin

Identical Particles and Quantum Statistical Mechanics

Time-Independent and Time-Dependent Perturbation Theory The WKB approximation

The Adiabatic Approximation and Berry’s phase Scattering

Electrons in an EM Field and Landau Levels

Educational Objectives: Upon finishing this course you should


-Have a good grasp of the mathematics of the Hilbert space formalism of Quantum Mechanics and its physical interpretation

-Have a good working knowledge and understanding of angular momentum, spin, indistinguishable particles and their quantum statistical mechanics

-Be able to understand and apply approximation methods, such as the WKB method, the adiabatic approximation, time-independent and time-dependent perturbation theory, to physical problems

-Have a good grasp of scattering theory and be able to apply it in simple physical situations and interpret the results

-Have a basic familiarity with the concepts of Landau levels, Berry’s phase and other special topics in quantum mechanics


Study plan: You should attend lectures, solve problems as suggested in class, do the assigned homework and review the necessary material from the book or your notes. This is a hard course that requires your full attention and diligence. Here is some common sense advice, in the first person, which you may disregard at your own peril:

  • Do not fall behind! Losing contact with the material as lectures progress is tantamount to failing the course. Quantum mechanics is unforgiving to those who do not take it seriously, and cannot be “crammed” in a hurry.
  • Ask questions! The only bad question is the one that was not asked.
  • Solve problems! Reading and fully understanding the material, but not solving enough problems, is making almost no progress at all. Solve the examples given in class or the textbook and the assigned homework problems, as well as extra problems on your own.
  • If you have serious difficulties or problems arrange to see me! Do this earlier rather than later. You cannot afford to stay paralyzed and wait until it is too late for help.


Again, this is a course for devoted and committed aficionados of the material, not intellectual tourists. Come in full fighting gear or stay out!


Attendance, Homework: You are strongly advised to attend all lectures. There will be mandatory homework for credit assigned on a weekly basis, due 5pm on Thursday of the week next to the assignment. Homework submitted late will not be accepted for credit.


Class Behavior and Cheating: You are expected to act responsibly and follow the rules of the course as well as those of civility. This includes the courtesy of not talking, acting disruptively or engaging in extracurricular activities during lectures (checking your phone, using devices, sleeping, grooming etc.) and of behaving to the lecturer and your fellow students politely. No food can be taken in the classroom, but I will allow drinking non-alcoholic drinks - especially caffeinated!


Cheating during exams, homework or any other circumstance is grounds for failing the course and suffering severe academic consequences.


Exams: One Midterm exam and one comprehensive Final.


Exam Structure: Exams are open book:  you are permitted to bring with you your books, notes, calculator, slide rule, abacus, ouija board or any other passive device you wish.

Communication during the exam is strictly forbidden: no talking, exchanging material or calculators, laptops, phones and other wireless devices, sign language, ESP etc.


Questions during Exams: For clarifications on what is being asked raise your hand. Neither the professor nor the proctor will provide help or hints on how to answer the questions.


Missing an Exam: For absence due to serious medical or family emergency and documented to be truly unavoidable, a make-up exam could be given that will be no easier than the regular exam.  It is to your advantage to be there for the scheduled exam.


Special Circumstances: Students who qualify for extra time, a quiet test environment or other special accommodations due to a documented condition should present evidence and notify the instructor, preferably at the beginning of the course and no later than one week prior to any exam, and should make appropriate arrangements with the AccessAbility office whenever needed.


Students with religious or other restrictions on the dates they need to take exams should communicate them to the instructor at the beginning of the course. Every effort will be made to accommodate them, within the constraints of the schedule and other students’ needs and limitations.


Etiquette: Show up on time for the exam. Please take care of your physical needs beforehand and avoid the embarrassment of asking to use the bathroom during the exam.


Grades: Your letter grade will be based on a numerical score to be computed as follows: Homework 20%, Midterm 30%, Final 50%. No single exam will guarantee your passing the course, so you are strongly advised to participate in all of the above evaluations.




NOTA BENE: The above is intended as a guide, and the instructor reserves the right to make changes during the semester as he sees fit.  Changes, if any, to the rules and to the schedule will be announced as they occur. It is the students’ responsibility to remain informed about the course and be alert of any new information.