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Course Description

Quantum Physics I explores the experimental basis of quantum mechanics, including:

  • Photoelectric effect
  • Compton scattering
  • Photons
  • Franck-Hertz experiment
  • The Bohr atom, electron diffraction
  • deBroglie waves
  • Wave-particle duality of matter and light

This class also provides an introduction to wave mechanics, via:

  • Schrödinger's equation
  • Wave functions
  • Wave packets
  • Probability amplitudes
  • Stationary states
  • The Heisenberg uncertainty principle
  • Zero-point energies
  • Solutions to Schrödinger's equation in one dimension
    • Transmission and reflection at a barrier
    • Barrier penetration
    • Potential wells
    • The simple harmonic oscillator
  • Schrödinger's equation in three dimensions
    • Central potentials
    • Introduction to hydrogenic systems


In order to register for 8.04, students must have previously completed Vibrations and Waves (8.03) or Electrodynamics (6.014), and Differential Equations (18.03 or 18.034) with a grade of C or higher.



Amazon logo Gasiorowicz, Stephen. Quantum Physics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003. ISBN: 9780471057000.

Strongly Recommended

Amazon logo French, A. P., and Edwin F. Taylor. Introduction to Quantum Physics. New York, NY: Norton, 1978. ISBN: 9780393090154.

Read Again and Again

Amazon logo Feynman, Richard P., Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew L. Sands. The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Commemorative Issue. Vol. 3. Redwood City, CA: Addison-Wesley, 1989. ISBN: 9780201510058.


Amazon logo Liboff, Richard L. Introductory Quantum Mechanics. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Addison Wesley, 2003. ISBN: 9780805387148.

Amazon logo Eisberg, Robert Martin, and Robert Resnick. Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles. New York, NY: Wiley, 1974. ISBN: 9780471873730.

Problem Sets

The weekly problem sets are an essential part of the course. Working through these problems is crucial to understanding the material deeply. After attempting each problem by yourself, we encourage you to discuss the problems with the teaching staff and with each other--this is an excellent way to learn physics! However, you must write-up your solutions by yourself. Your solutions should not be transcriptions or reproductions of someone else's work.


There will be two in-class exams. There will also be a comprehensive final exam, scheduled by the registrar and held during the final exam period.

Grading Policy

Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Final exam 40%
Problem sets 20%


1 Overview, scale of quantum mechanics, boundary between classical and quantum phenomena
2 Planck's constant, interference, Fermat's principle of least time, deBroglie wavelength
3 Double slit experiment with electrons and photons, wave particle duality, Heisenberg uncertainty
4 Wavefunctions and wavepackets, probability and probability amplitude, probability density
5 Thomson atom, Rutherford scattering
6 Photoelectric effect, X-rays, Compton scattering, Franck Hertz experiment
7 Bohr model, hydrogen spectral lines
8 Bohr correspondence principle, shortcomings of Bohr model, Wilson-Sommerfeld quantization rules
9 Schrödinger equation in one dimension, infinite 1D well
In-class exam 1
10 Eigenfunctions as basis, interpretation of expansion coefficients, measurement
11 Operators and expectation values, time evolution of eigenstates, classical limit, Ehrenfest's theorem
12 Eigenfunctions of p and x, Dirac delta function, Fourier transform
13 Wavefunctions and operators in position and momentum space, commutators and uncertainty
14 Motion of wavepackets, group velocity and stationary phase, 1D scattering off potential step
15 Boundary conditions, 1D problems: Finite square well, delta function potential
16 More 1D problems, tunneling
17 Harmonic oscillator: Series method
In-class exam 2
18 Harmonic oscillator: Operator method, Dirac notation
19 Schrödinger equation in 3D: Cartesian, spherical coordinates
20 Angular momentum, simultaneous eigenfunctions
21 Spherical harmonics
22 Hydrogen atom: Radial equation
23 Hydrogen atom: 3D eigenfunctions and spectrum
24 Entanglement, Einstein-Podolsky Rosen paradox
Final exam