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December 17, 2022


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This is the first course in the undergraduate Quantum Physics sequence. It introduces the basic features of quantum mechanics

It covers the experimental basis of quantum physics, introduces wave mechanics, Schrödinger’s equation in a single dimension, and Schrödinger’s equation in three dimensions. The lectures and lecture notes for this course form the basis of Zwiebach’s textbook Mastering Quantum Mechanics published by MIT Press in April 2022.

This presentation of 8.04 by Barton Zwiebach (2016) differs somewhat and complements nicely the presentation of Allan Adams (2013). Adams covers a larger set of ideas; Zwiebach tends to go deeper into a smaller set of ideas, offering a systematic and detailed treatment. Adams begins with the subtleties of superpostion, while Zwiebach discusses the surprises of interaction-free measurements. While both courses overlap over a sizable amount of standard material, Adams discussed applications to condensed matter physics, while Zwiebach focused on scattering and resonances. The different perspectives of the instructors make the problem sets in the two courses rather different.

Course Curriculum

    • Key Features of Quantum Mechanics Unlimited
    • Experiments with Photons: Mach-Zehder Interferometer, Elitzur-Vaidman Bombs Unlimited
    • Particle Nature of Light and Wave Nature of Matter: Photoelectric Effect, Compton Scattering, Matter Waves Unlimited
    • de Broglie Wavelength and Galilean Transformations, Unlimited
    • Equations for a Wavefunction, Unlimited
    • Normalization and Time Evolution, Unlimited
    • Wavepackets and Uncertainty, Wavepacket Shape Changes Unlimited
    • Uncovering Momentum Space, Unlimited
    • Observables and Hermitian Operators, Uncertainty Unlimited
    • Solving the Time-Independent Schrödinger Equation: Stationary States Unlimited
    • The Infinite Square Well, The Finite Square Well Unlimited
    • General Properties Unlimited
    • Delta Function Potential, The Node Theorem, Simple Harmonic Oscillator Unlimited
    • Algebraic Approach to the Simple Harmonic Oscillator Unlimited
    • Scattering States and the Step Potential Unlimited
    • Resonant Transmission in a Square Well, The Ramsauer–Townsend Effect Unlimited
    • Scattering in One Dimension: Time Delay, An Example Unlimited
    • Levinson’s Theorem, Resonances, Modeling the Resonance Unlimited
    • Quantum Mechanics in 3D and Central Potentials Unlimited
    • Hydrogen Atom, Hydrogen Atom Spectrum Unlimited

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology