Physics 531 Spring 2005

University of New Mexico

Department of Physics and Astronomy


Atomic and Molecular Physics


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General Information


Lecture Schedule

Problem Sets

Final Project


General Information


Lecture: Physics and Astronomy, Room 184, 2:00-3:15


Instructor: Prof. Ivan Deutsch

Phys/Astro Room 24, Phone: 277-1502


Office Hours: Tuesday 3:30-4:30 and Wed. 2:00-3:00 (or by appointment)


Teaching Assistant: Iris Rappert




Problem Sets: 75%

Problem sets will be distributed once a week and due in class Thursdays.

There will be apprroximately 10 home work assignments.

Final Project 25%

During the last quarter of the semester you will do a research project on a contemporary subject in atomic/molecular physics and write a review article.



Official text: Physics of Atioms and Molecules, by B. H. Bransden and C.J. Joachain.

This text is very comprehensive, covering the broad subject matter. It's level is a bit elementary though. We will not be following it directly, but will use it from time to time.


Other texts:

Tentative Syllabus

I. Review (1 week)

A. Schrodinger Equation, Aprroximation Methods

B. Angular momentum and coupling rules.


II. One Electron Atoms (2 weeks)

A. Hydrogen and Hydrogenic atoms

B. Stark effect

C. Fine and hyperfine structure


III. Coupling to Electromagnetic fields (2 1/2 weeks)

A. Tensor operators and Wigner-Eckart

B. Multipoles and selction rules

C. Zeeman effect.


IV. Multielectron Atoms (3 1/2 weeks)

A. Identical particles and Pauli exclusion principle.

B. Central field approximation: Helium and periodic table.

C. Mean field: Hartree-Fock.

D. Correlation effects: Russel-Sanders and jj coupling

E. Spectra of multi-electron atoms.


V. Molecules (3 1/2 weeks)

A. Born-Oppenheimer approximation

B. Diatomic molecules: Electronic and rovibrational levels.

C. Spins and Hunds cases

D. Molecular spectra.


VI. Atomic Collisions (2 1/2 weeks)

A. Review of scattering

B. Multi-channel processes

C. Ultra-cold collisions

Tentative Schedule of Lectures




Jan. 18

Review Quantum Mechanics: Schrodinger Equation, Symmetries, Perturbation Theory


B&J Ch. 2

Jan. 20

Review: Addition of angular momentum.

Clebsch-Gordan coefficients


B&J App. 4

Jan. 26

Review: Hydrogenic atoms

Lect. 3

B&J Ch. 3

Jan. 27

Stark shift and atomic polarizabiltity

Lect. 4

B&J Ch. 6.1

Feb. 1

Relativistic corrections: Fine structure

Special Time! 11:00-12:15

Lect. 5

B&J 5.1 Appendix 7

Feb. 3


Feb. 8
Hyperfine Structure and Isotope effects

Lect. 6

B&J 5.3

Feb. 10


Feb. 15

Tensor Operators -- Wigner-Eckart Theorem

Lande Projection Theorem

Lect. 7


Feb. 17 

Interaction with electromagnetic waves

Absorption cross section, spontaneous emission

Lect. 8

B&J Ch. 4

Feb. 22

Selection rules for absorption

Lect. 9

B&J Ch. 4

Feb. 24 

Selection rules of decay

Multiplets and 6J symbols

Mar. 1

Intro to multielectron atoms


Mar. 3
On Travel -- No Lecture

Mar. 8

Helium and two-electron atoms

Lect. 11

B&J Ch. 7

Mar. 10

Central field approximation:

Period table,Terms, build-up principles

Lect. 12

B&J Ch. 8.1

Mar. 11

Make up:

Mean-field approximation: Hatree-Fock

Lect. 13

B&J Ch. 4

Mar. 12-20
Spring Break
Mar. 22

Correlation effects: L-S (Russell-Suanders) Coupling

Lect. 14

B&J Ch 8.5

Mar. 24

Correlation effects continued:

Hunds Rules, Spin-orbit, j-j coupling


Mar. 29

Spectra of multielectron atoms

Lect. 15

B&J. Ch. 9

Mar. 31

Molecules: Born-Oppenheimer approximation

Diatomics molecules - overview of symmetries

Lect 16

B&J Ch. 10

Apr. 5

Electronic structure: Molecular Hydrogen ion

Lect 17

B&J Ch. 10

Apr. 7

Electronic structure: Neutral Hydrogen molecule and homonuclear diatomics

Lect. 18

B&J Ch. 10

Apr. 12

Electronic Structure: Molecular Orbitals, Build-up of multielectron case, heteronuclear diatomics

Lect. 19

B&J Ch. 10

Apr. 14

Diatomics Continued: Long-range forces

Ionic bounding, dipole-dipole interaction, van der Waals

Lect. 19b

Apr. 19

Rovibrational structure

Including spins -- Hunds cases

Lect. 20

Apr. 21

Molecular Spectra

B&J Ch. 11

 Apr. 26

Atomic collisions -- Review of scattering theory

Cross section, Partial waves, S-matrix

Lect. 22

Apr. 28

Guest Lecture - Prof. Charles Beckel


May. 3

Scattering resonances, identical particles

Lect. 23

May. 5

Ultracold collsions

BEC and Fermi degenerate gases


Problem Sets

Problem Set #1

Due Jan. 27

Problem Set #6

Due Mar. 29

 Problem Set #2

Due Feb. 8

 Problem Set #7

Due April. 5

Problem Set #3

Due Feb. 15


Problem Set #4

Due Feb. 22


 Problem Set #5

Due Mar. 8



Final Project

As a final project for the class, you are required to review a topic of contemporary interest with relation
to atomic/molecular structure. Some suggested topics are given below, but are by no means exhaustive.
You should do a literature search using SciSearch, Inspec, and other online database (e.g. Google Scholar).
I can try to point you to particular key articles, depending on your interests, if you’re having trouble.
The style of your paper should be a review article, such as in Reviews of Modern Physics (though
shorter). You should adhere to the style guidelines of the American Physical Society - See for information on manuscript preparation. The article should be of
length 5-8 double column Physical Review pages. You can download Revtex for preparation in LaTex, or
use the APS MS-Word template.


• Apr. 11: Topic choice due: short description with a few references, emailed to me.
• Apr. 12: Project approved.
• May 6: Final paper due.

A. Laser cooling and trapping of atoms

1) Doppler cooling, magneto-optic traps, polarization-gradient cooling.
2) Optical lattices: Cooling, trapping, control.
3) Ion cooling, trapping, and control.

B. Coherent control and dynamics
1) Electron wave packets in Rydberg atoms.
2) Coherent control of molecules.
3) Signatures of classical chaos in atomic spectra.
4) Negative hydrogen ion: Fundamental 3-body problem (also of astrophysical interest).

C. Test of fundamental symmetries in atoms and molecules
1) Parity non-conservation in atoms.
2) Experimental determination of the Rydberg constant.
3) Time-reversal tests in atomic physics.
4) Spectroscopy of exotic atoms: positronium, muonium, anti-hydrogen.

D. Ultra-cold collisions

1) Photoassociation.
2) Ground-state collisions and ultra-cold gases (Feshbach resonances).
3) BEC of ultra-cold atoms.
4) Fermi-degenerate gases of ultra-cold atoms.
5) Creating cold-molecules from cold atoms.

E. Atomic clocks and precision measurement

1) Cesium frequency standard and hydrogen maser.
2) Optical frequency standards with alkaline earths.
3) Atom interferometry.

F. Atoms in high-fields
1)Atoms in intense laser fields: multiphoton ionization, tunneling, above threshold ionization.
2) Rydberg atoms in strong magnetic fields (also of interest in quantum-chaos).

G. Some topics of interest in astrophysics

1) Atoms and molecules in the early universe
2) Stellar Spectra
3) Forbidden lines and astrophysical processes.