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Building Blocks of Matter


Admission Requirements

First-year courses Introduction to Modern Physics, Calculus, Linear Algebra, second-year courses Quantum Mechanics 1 & 2.


The Universe is both light and dark. In this course, we focus on the light and what its spectral content can teach us about the elemental and molecular composition of luminous objects (stars, clouds, lamps, etc.) in space and on earth. In order to answer this question we have to go well beyond what was taught in the Quantum Mechanics courses about the energy-level structure of the Hydrogen atom and learn about multi-electron atoms and simple molecules. We will discuss the role of symmetries.

Course objectives

After completion of this course, you will be able to apply the rules of quantum mechanics to the structure and spectroscopy of atoms and simple molecules. With that knowledge you'll be able to critically analyse research papers involving spectroscopic data.

Soft Skills

By following this course you get a sense of how to make simplifying assumptions in complex problems and the use of hierarchy of energy and time scales.


The course is taught in the fall semester; it consists of lectures and problem-solving exercise classes. Rooster

Mode of instruction

Lectures by lecturer and regular exercise classes to truly familiarize you with the course material.

Assessment method



All relevant material will be published on blackboard.

Reading list

J. Tennyson, Astronomical Spectroscopy, World Scientific Publishing.
Other reading material, in the form of a syllabus, will be provided as the course develops.


Contact details lecturer: Prof.dr. Eric Eliel