Physics 8.421 Spring 2020


                                ATOMIC AND OPTICAL PHYSICS








Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle




Prof. Isaac Chuang




Michael Alan Cantara


Sergio Hiram Cantu


Zeyang Li


Yiqi Ni


Cedric Chinua Wilson


Joanna Keseberg





Mondays, Wednesdays1:00-2:30pm via Zoom

First day of classes: Mon, 2/3

WK office hours: Tue 1:30-2:30 or by appointment (just send an e-mail), starting 2/11


TA office hours:

Fridays 1:30 – 2:30 via Zoom

TAs for module 3: Michael and Cedric

TAs for module 4: Cedric and Zeyang

TAs for module 5: Zeyang and Sergio


Important links:

Residential MITx site for 8.421 with lecture videos and online problems


Atomic Physics Wiki (serves as online text book)

temporary access gate: username = bloch, password = theorem


Stellar Web Site (for grades and term paper submissions)


Course info and calendar    Recommended books
Course requirements (updated, no midterm quiz)


Web Site for 2016                   Web Site for 8.422 (2017)



Current assignments: (old assignments are at the end of the page)

The due dates on this page are the valid ones.  If the MITx page or other pages show different due dates, ignore those.

Assignements for Video Lectures:  You should watch the video lectures before the disussion sessions where I assume that you are familiar with the material of the lectures.



Feedback questionnaire:


Mon, 5/11:  last class, term paper due

Optional PSet on Superradiance in a Bose-Einstein Condensate (will receive extra credit if submitted by Fri, 5/15)

Paper version

background material on the derivation of the four-wave mixing Hamiltonian pdf

Online version PSet M5.PS3

(both versions have the same questions)



Projected Lecture Write-ups (from 2014)

Module 1:  Resonance

Module 2:  Atoms   External fields

Module 3:  Atom-light interaction

Module 4:  Line broadening   Two-photon processes

Module 5:  Coherence


Papers for further reading

Module 1:       Nuclear clock

                        Photon antibunching

                        Heisenberg limit:  Beyond Heisenberg L.   Universality of HL   T^3 atom interferometer

Module 2:       Dirac equation    Zitterbewegung

Lamb shift review      Bethe and Salpeter book

Lamb shift in two-level system  Paper1   Paper2

Spherical tensors      Wiki article on Wigner-Eckart theorem (worth reading)

write-up on electronic structure and magnetic moments of lanthanides

Module 3:       Einstein 1917 paper pdf

                        Dan Kleppner’s Phys. Today column on Einstein’s paper  pdf

                        Shift of center of light emission due to orbital angular momentum of the photon:  paper

Module 4:       Paper on Bragg spectroscopy (Doppler broadening in a BEC)

                        Paper on Standing Wave vs. Two Travelling Waves


Module 5:       Lounis and Cohen-Tannoudj paper on Fano profile  pdf

Dicke paper on Superradiance  pdf

Superradiant Rayleigh Scattering from a Bose-Einstein Condensate  pdf

Dicke:  The Coherence Brightened Laser  pdf

entanglement of many atoms by a single photon   Reichel group     Vuletic group



Old assignments:

Wed, 2/5:

get familiar with the interface, watch the following lectures and do the embedded

concept questions:  Resonance and HO of M1.1

Before-class questions:      Answers


Mon, 2/10:

            Finish Videos on Classical Resonance, M1.1

            Do PSet M1.PS1 (very little, mainly to try out the interface)

            Before-class questions:      Answers


Wed, 2/12

            Videos M1.2

            Before-class questions:      Answers


Tue, 2/18 (which is Monday schedule for MIT)

            PSet due: M1.PS2

            Videos M1.3

            Before-class questions:      Answers


Wed, 2/19

            Videos M2.1

            Before class questions:    Answers


Mon, 2/24

            PSet due: M1.PS3

            Videos M2.2

            Before class questions:      Answers


Wed, 2/26

            None (TA led discussion)


Mon, 3/2

            PSet due: M2.PS1, M2.PS2b

            Videos:  M2.3 Atoms in magnetic fields, Review (14 concept questions)

            Before class questions:      Answers


Wed, 3/4

            Videos: M2.3 Atoms in electric fields

            Before class questions:       Answers


Mon, 3/9

            M2, PSet 3

Videos:  M3.1 Part 1:  Symmetry and Selection Rules

            Before class questions:     Answers


Wed, 3/11

Videos:  M3.1 Part 2:  Atom light interactions:  Broadband versus narrowband excitation

            Before class questions #10:     Answers


Mon, 3/30

            No new video assignment and before class questions:  We will wrap up previous topics.

            Paper Homework Module 2  NOW DUE MONDAY 3/30   Solutions


Wed, 4/1   Videos M3.2 Quantized Field

            Before class questions #11:   Answers

            Thu, 4/2: PSet M3.PS1


Mon, 4/6   Videos M3.3

            Before class questions #12: Answers

            PSet M3.PS2


Wed, 4/8   Videos 4.1

            Before class questions #13: ... Answers

            Thu, 4/9: Pset M3.PS3


Mon, 4/13   TA led discussion, no video assignment, no pre-class questions

            Paper Homework Module 3 due    Solutions


Wed, 4/15   Videos 4.2

            Before class questions #14:  Answers

            PSet M4.PS1


Mon, 4/20 Patriot’s Day vacation

            Tue, 4/21:  Paper Homework Module 4 due    Solutions


Wed, 4/22   Videos 4.3

            Before class questions #15  Answers

            Thu, 4/23: PSet M4.PS2


Mon, 4/27   Videos M5.1

            Before class questions #16  Answers

            PSet M4.PS3


Wed, 4/29   Videos M5.2 Part 1 (STIRAP, LWI)

            Before class questions #17 (sorry for the late posting)   Answers

Fri, 5/1:  PSet M5.PS1 (very short)


Mon, 5/4   Videos M5.2 Part 2 (EIT, slow light)

            Before class questions #18   Answers


Wed, 5/6   Videos M5.3

            Before class questions #19   Answers

            PSet M5.PS2