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Atomic Physics & Lasers - PHY00065H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Greg Tallents
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

Students should develop a basic understanding of the quantum mechanical treatments of atomic and molecular structure and the phenomenological nature of the interaction of light with atoms. A basic awareness of the physics of lasers is subsequently developed.

Module learning outcomes

  • Construct energy level diagrams of the fine structure of hydrogen and hydrogen-like ions.
  • Describe the origin of sub-shells, terms and multiplets for atoms with two or more electrons not in closed sub-shells.
  • Describe molecular energy levels, including vibrational and rotational levels.
  • Derive the relationship between the Einstein coefficients.
  • Determine a general formula for laser gain in a generalised four-level laser.
  • Derive an expression for Doppler broadening of a line profile.
  • Describe mode locking of a laser cavity.
  • Describe the operation of helium-neon and carbon dioxide lasers.
  • Describe how lasers can be used to cool atoms to form, for example, Bose-Einstein condensates.

Module content

Syllabus

The quantum mechanics of atoms is introduced by re-visiting the hydrogen atom. Spin orbit splitting and the Lamb shift are introduced leading to a qualitative treatment of fine structure. Exchange parity and the Pauli exclusion principle are presented leading to a discussion of the structure of atoms with more than one electron. The inter-electron Coulomb and spin orbit interactions are introduced leading to a discussion of LS coupling and jj-coupling when there are two or more electrons not in closed sub-shells. The concept of sub-shells, terms and multiplets is presented. Molecular energy levels are introduced starting with the hydrogen molecule ion H2+ . Vibrational and rotational states are discussed. The interaction of light with atoms and molecules is further explored by re-visiting the Einstein A and B coefficient. This leads to a discussion on lasers and the gain coefficient. The concept of the lineshape function is introduced – Doppler broadening is considered. Laser cavities are briefly discussed leading to the concepts of longitudinal modes and mode locking. Helium-neon and carbon dioxide lasers are discussed. The technique of laser cooling is presented with a brief discussion of Bose-Einstein condensates.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Atomic Physics and Lasers Assignment 1
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Atomic Physics and Lasers Assignment 2
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Atomic Physics and Lasers Assignment 3
N/A 36

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Atomic Physics and Lasers Assignment 1
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Atomic Physics and Lasers Assignment 2
N/A 32
Essay/coursework
Atomic Physics and Lasers Assignment 3
N/A 36

Module feedback

Physics Practice Questions (PPQs) - You will receive the marked scripts via your pigeon holes. Feedback solutions will be provided on the VLE or by other equivalent means from your lecturer. As feedback solutions are provided, normally detailed comments will not be written on your returned work, although markers will indicate where you have lost marks or made mistakes. You should use your returned scripts in conjunction with the feedback solutions.

Exams - You will receive the marks for the individual exams from eVision. Detailed model answers will be provided on the intranet. You should discuss your performance with your supervisor.

Advice on academic progress - Individual meetings with supervisor will take place where you can discuss your academic progress in detail.

Indicative reading

Haken H and Wolf H C: The Physics of Atoms and Quanta (Springer).

Hawkes J and Latimer I: Lasers: Theory and Practice (Prentice-Hall).

Tallents, G J ‘An introduction to the atomic and radiation physics of plasmas’ (Cambridge University Press)



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students