This Course at MIT

Course Overview

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.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

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.

Possibilities for Further Study/Careers

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 This resource may not render correctly in a screen reader.Special Topics in Condensed Matter Physics (PDF). Others go on to take courses in quantum computation.

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisite

8.05 Quantum Physics II

Requirements Satisfied

This course may be applied toward a doctoral degree in physics with the approval of the candidate’s committee.

Offered

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 Classroom

  • Classroom with rectangular tables and chairs arranged in tiered rows. A small brown table is positioned at the front of the room. It sits in front of two chalkboards.

    Lecture

    Lectures were held in this classroom, which seats 64 students. The room featured moveable furniture tables and chairs in a tiered layout. A/V equipment was available.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by assignments. 50% Assignments
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by a term paper. 50% Term paper
 

Student Information

On average, 34 students take this course each time it is offered.

Breakdown by Year

Graduate students

Breakdown by Major

Predominantly physics majors

Ideal Class Size

This class should have at least 10-15 students to allow for active discussions.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

Lecture

3 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 25 sessions total; voluntary attendance.
  • Lectures typically began with a brief summary of previously covered content, an introduction to the focus of the current lecture, and a preview of what would be covered next.
  • Lectures consisted of instructor-led presentations and questions from students.
  • Clicker questions were occasionally used to gauge students’ understanding during lectures.
 

Out of Class

9 hours per week
  • Students completed readings, problem sets, and a term paper.
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
2 Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled.
3 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment due date.
4 Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. Lecture session scheduled.
5 Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled.
6 Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled.
7 Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. Lecture session scheduled.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled.
10 Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. Lecture session scheduled.
11 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. Office hours scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
12 Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment due date.
14 Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. No session scheduled; assignment due date.
15 Lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. Lecture session scheduled. Office hours scheduled. Lecture session scheduled; assignment due date.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when office hours are held. Office hours
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when assignments are due. Assignment due date
 

Instructor Insights

In the following pages Wolfgang Ketterle describes various aspects of how he teaches 8.422 Atomic and Optical Physics II.

 

Course Team Roles

Lead Instructor (Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle)

  • Developed and delivered lectures
  • Assessed students’ term papers
  • Held office hours for consultations