Oct 19th 2015

Atomic and Optical Physics I - Part 2: Atomic structure and atoms in external field (edX)

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Second part of a course in modern atomic and optical physics: the structure of atoms, and how they behave in static electromagnetic fields.

This is the second of five modules to introduce concepts and current frontiers of atomic physics and to prepare you for cutting-edge research:

8.421.1x: Resonance

8.421.2x: Atomic structure and atoms in external field

8.421.3x: Atom-Light Interactions 1 -- Matrix elements and quantized field

8.421.4x: Atom-Light interactions 2 -- Line broadening and two-photon transitions

8.421.5x: Coherence

The second module, 8.421.2x, describes atomic structure, including electronic levels, fine structure, hyperfine structure and Lamb shift. You will then learn about how electric and magnetic fields shift atomic levels. The discussion of time-dependent electric fields prepares you for the interactions of atoms with light and for the dressed atom picture.

At MIT, the content of the five modules makes the first of a two-semester sequence (8.421 and 8.422) for graduate students interested in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics. This sequence is required for Ph.D. students doing research in this field.

In these modules you will learn about the interaction of radiation with atoms: resonance; absorption, stimulated and spontaneous emission; methods of resonance, dressed atom formalism, masers and lasers, cavity quantum electrodynamics; structure of simple atoms, behavior in very strong fields; fundamental tests: time reversal, parity violations, Bell's inequalities; and experimental methods.

Completing the two-course sequence allows you to pursue advanced study and research in cold atoms, as well as specialized topics in condensed matter physics.

What you'll learn:

- The structure of atoms, and how atoms behave in static magnetic and electric fields

- The fine structure and the Lamb shift

- Effects of the nucleus on atomic structure