PHYS621 - Graduate Quantum Mechanics I

General Information

This is the first semester of the Graduate Quantum Mechanics sequence at ODU.


Dr. Sebastian E. Kuhn

Time and Location:

Lectures: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:20 - 5:35, Room 205

Recitation Sessions:
Alternating Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. and Fridays at 8:00 a.m.  in PSBII 2nd floor Seminar Room 2108
    (The Physical Sciences Building II is adjacent to the Oceanography and Physical Sciences Building (OCNPS), 4600 Elkhorn Ave.)

Office Hours: Mondays 2:00 - 3:00 in 2100J PSB2 and Tuesdays 2:00 - 3:00 in the Learning Center

Course Material:

Recommended Books (sorted by match with lecture content)

  1. R. Shankar: "Principles of Quantum Mechanics", 2nd Ed. Springer 1994. I will follow the general approach and much of the material of this book, while leaving some of the more advanced topics to the 2nd semester (PHYS821). If at all possible, buy this book - we will use it most extensively!
  2. G. Arfken: "Mathematical Methods for Physicists" - the best collection of all the math needed by most Physicists
  3. A. Messiah: "Quantum Mechanics" (2-volume edition bound as 1 book), Dover Publication 1999. A comprehensive collection of material, cheap on Amazon etc.
  4. D. Griffiths: "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", 2nd edition (Pearson 2005) and S. Gasiorowicz: "Quantum Physics" 3rd edition (Wiley 2003). Two lower-level books with more basic explanations and applications to help you "make sense of it all". Useful if you already have them, but don't buy just for this class (you can always go to the library).
  5. C. Cohen-Tannoudji, B. Diu, F. Laloë: "Quantum Mechanics" Volumes 1 and 2, Wiley. The most comprehensive tome, but somewhat hard to read. For people who think this class is too easy! ;-)
  6. JJ. Sakurai: "Modern Quantum Mechanics" Revised Edition, Addison Wesley 1994. Relatively compact but intense.
Alternative Lecture Notes: Dr. W. van Orden's Lecture Notes on Quantum Mechanics (priceless! But his approach is quite different from mine...)

Syllabus and Preliminary schedule, linked to page numbers in R. Shankar's book

Collection of useful formulae and relationships

News and Announcements

The submission period for the Final Exam is now closed - here is the Solution
Have a well-deserved break and enjoy the next semester of QM!

Lecture Notes


Student presentations

All PHYS621 students must give a 10-15 min long presentation during one of the recitation sections - it counts 15% towards your grade. The topic is mostly up to you - it can be anything related to quantum mechanics. A good choice would be to summarize an article about recent developments you may have read on the web, in a newspaper or in a "popular scientific" journal; or to explain some aspect of quantum mechanics you find intriguing (and isn't covered in the lecture). Below are a few suggestions for topics. Make sure you clear your topic with the instructor. The presentation should ideally be in Powerpoint or Keynote or pdf file format; if your topic is the (re)derivation of some technical point, you can also simply use the whiteboard. Don't wait to volunteer - the early volunteers get the best topics!


Preliminary - please contact me ASAP with any corrections or changes
9/26 9:00 a.m.
Jeremy Peschl
Quantum Tunneling
10/4 8:00 a.m.
Robert Fields
Quantum Cryptography
10/10 9:00 a.m. Junki Makita
Quantum Computers
10/18 8:00 a.m. Anton Fernando
Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox
10/25 8:00 a.m. NOTE BREAK IN SEQUENCE!
Francesca Spadoni
The Quantum Zeno paradox
1/1 8:00 a.m. Mahdi Yousefi Atashgah
Casimir effect and it's application in quantum thrusters
1/7 9:00 a.m. Zakary Elliot
Quantum effects in biology
1/15 8:00 a.m. Filis McGuirk
Quantum Gravity

Possible Topics

Useful Links

Particle Data Group Page on Clebsch-Gordan Coefficients, Spherical Harmonics and rotational matrix elements
I made a little page with pictures of spherical Harmonics and spherical Bessel functions (partially copied from )
A collection of QM-related tutorials, animations, notebooks...:
Physics World's list of the 10 greatest discoveries of 2011 - at least 4 are directly related to Quantum Mechanics:

O.k., the following are not useful but funny:
One of the shortest abstracts of any (published!) scientific paper ever!
Apparently, the new iPhone has a quantum processor!
...and here is a thoroughly amusing (unintentionally so) example of "quantum quackery". Warning: Don't sign up or take anything on this site seriously!
And finally: A somewhat unusual approach to teaching quantum mechanics - [viewer discretion advised]