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Atomic and Molecular Physics


Admission Requirements

Quantum Mechanics 1
Quantum Mechanics 2


Atomic and molecular physics describes the structure of atoms and molecules on the basis of quantum mechanics. In the first part of the course, we build up simple atoms and discuss their interactions with electromagnetic fields. The second part is devoted to diatomic molecules, their electronic states, vibrations and rotations, their spectra, and a short discussion of polyatomic molecules. In a third part, we model an atom, a molecule or a spin as a two-level system interacting with an electromagnetic wave. This simple model is the conceptual basis of magnetic resonance and of coherent optics.

  • Hydrogen and helium atoms

  • Aufbau principle, LS coupling

  • Optical transitions and Zeeman effect

  • Diatomic molecules: electronic structure

  • Molecular vibrations and rotations

  • Polyatomic molecules

  • Bloch equations for a two-level system

  • Applications

Course Objectives

Understand the electronic structure of atoms and molecules, and how these will interact with electromagnetic waves. Establish the principles of magnetic resonance and coherent optics.



Mode of instruction

Lectures and working classes

Assessment method

Test at mid-course, on atomic physics only
Examination at the end of the course on the three parts above
The test grade t will be taken into account together with the examination grade T in the final grade C according to the following formulae:
for T ≥ t : C = T
for T < t : C = T + (t-T)/4.
This procedure does not apply for second-chance examinations


Offers syllabus, former exams with corrections

More information will be available on Blackboard (which requires a ULCN account).

Reading list

Physics of Atoms and Molecules, Bransden and Joachain (Prentice Hall)
Syllabus to be found on Blackboard


Contact details lecturer: Prof.dr. M. Orrit (Michel)