Spring 2019 Syllabus Physics 5510-U3500

PHYSICS 55100-U3500: Quantum Physics I
SYLLABUS, Spring 2019
Alexios P. Polychronakos
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Instructor: Alexios Polychronakos, Room 312A, Marshak Science Building;
(212) 650-5536; apolychronakos@ccny.cuny.edu
Grader: Jiusi Lei, Room J312C, Marshak Science Building; jlei@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! Students are required to check their CCNY email regularly (at least daily) to receive important class material and information communicated through Blackboard or Cunyfirst. I regret that I will not operate within social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter etc.)
Material: This course will introduce quantum mechanics at a solid conceptual and quantitative level, including one-dimensional and three-dimensional particles, the uncertainty principle, Hilbert space formalism, the harmonic oscillator, angular momentum, spin and the Hydrogen atom; quantum entanglement and Bell’s inequalities 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: calculus and some 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:
Historical background and evidence for quantum mechanics
The wave function and the Schrödinger equation
Statistical interpretation, probability and normalization
The uncertainty principle
Stationary states and specific one-dimensional potentials
The harmonic oscillator
Operator formalism and Hilbert spaces
Three dimensional problems and central potentials
Angular momentum and spin
The hydrogen atom
Measurement, entanglement and Bell’s inequalities
Educational Objectives: Upon finishing this course you should
Understand the nature of quantum mechanical states
Be able to solve one-dimensional scattering from barriers and tunneling problems
Master the basic mathematical tools of quantum mechanics
Use Dirac notation and creation-annihilation operators
Understand the uncertainty principle and be able to derive uncertainty relations
Be able to derive the energy levels of the harmonic oscillator
Master the concepts of quantum angular momentum and spin
Be able to solve central potential problems
Derive the energy levels of the hydrogen atom
Understand the distinction between bosons and fermions
Understand basic quantum information concepts and Bell’s theorem
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 and the College 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 cookies and drinking non-alcoholic drinks - especially caffeinated!
Cheating during exams, homework or any other circumstance is an extremely serious offence and grounds for failing the course and suffering severe academic consequences.
Exams: Two Midterm exams 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, using 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 instructor nor the proctor will provide individual help or hints on how to answer the questions.
If you Miss an Exam: For absence due to serious medical or family emergency and documented to be truly unavoidable, a make-up that will be no easier than the regular exam will be given. 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 two weeks 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, the College’s rules 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%, Midterms 40%, Final 40%. 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.