This page focuses on the course 8.422 Atomic and Optical Physics II as it was taught by Professor Wolfgang Ketterle in Spring 2013.
This graduate-level course is the second of a two-semester subject sequence beginning with 8.421 Atomic and Optical Physics I that provides the foundations for contemporary research in selected areas of atomic and optical physics.
The purpose of this two-semester subject sequence is to introduce graduate students to the concepts of atomic physics and to prepare them for cutting-edge research.
Cold atoms are often used to address problems of condensed matter physics, so many students who take this subject sequence go on to take 8.511 Theory of Solids I and 8.512 Theory of Solids II. Some students take a course, taught by Eugene Demler at Harvard, called Special Topics in Condensed Matter Physics (PDF). Others go on to take courses in quantum computation.
This course may be applied toward a doctoral degree in physics with the approval of the candidate’s committee.
Atomic physics is taught every spring semester, alternating between 8.421 Atomic and Optical Physics I and 8.422 Atomic and Optical Physics II. Depending on when they matriculate, students begin with either 8.421 or 8.422. It is somewhat more logical to go from fundamental concepts to more advanced topics, but the reverse sequence also works well.
The students' grades were based on the following activities:
Predominantly physics majors
This class should have at least 10-15 students to allow for active discussions.
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
In the following pages Wolfgang Ketterle describes various aspects of how he teaches 8.422 Atomic and Optical Physics II.