University of Maryland at College Park, Fall of 2007


Dr. Paulo Bedaque

2105 Physics Building
(301) 405-6148

Aleksey Cherman
2204D John S. Toll Physics Building
(301) 405-405 6127


We will not follow any book too closely but a useful reference is

"Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", David J. Griffths.

We will have time for very little discussion of the historical develoment of the subject. I suggest you read

"Introducing Quantum Theory", by J. P. McEvoy

during the first couple of weeks (or before the classes start) in order to learn a bit about the history and also to be introduced to the subject without getting deterred by technicalities. It makes a great, light summer reading (it's a comics book !).

The material discussed in the first couple of weeks is presented, for instance, in

Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles by R. Eisberg and R. Resnick.

Notice that Eisberg & Resnick conatins much  more material than we will need, both in depth and breadth.

Keep in mind that different people will enjoy different books. Our library has a good collection of them for you to explore. The best book for you will be the one you like the most.

Course Policies:

Classes will meet on Mondays (10:00am to 10:50am), Wednesdays (10:00am and 11:50am) and Fridays (10:00am to 10:50am). Office hours will be from 11:00am to 12 noon, Mondays and Fridays in the instructor's office (2103 Physics Building).

We will have three exams, two midterms and a final, and periodic home problems. The grade will be based on the two exams (25% for each  midterm, 40% for the final) and homework (10%).

Tentative Syllabus:

Aug. 29  Introduction to the class
The rise of quantum ideas
Aug. 31 Blackbody radiation
Sep. 5 Photoelectric effect
Sep. 7  Compton scattering
Sep. 10 Matter waves
Sep. 12 Schroedinger equation, the wave function
Sep. 14 Probability and the statistical interpretation of the wave function
Sep. 17 Double-slit experiment
Sep. 19 Momentum operator and the Uncertainty Principle
Sep. 21 Free particle
Sep. 24 Infinite square well
Sep. 26 Finite square well
Sep. 28 Harmonic oscillator
Oct.  1 Harmonic oscillator
Oct. 3 Potential barriers
Oct. 5 Tunneling
Oct. 8 Review
Oct. 10 Midterm
Oct. 12 Midterm discussion
Oct. 15 Linear algebra: review
Oct. 17 Linear algebra: review
Oct. 19 The formalism of quantum mechanics: states, operators, observables, eigenstates, ...
Oct. 22 Dirac notation
Oct. 24 Dirac notation
Oct. 26 Two-state systems
Oct. 29 Two-state systems
Oct. 31 Covalent binding
Nov. 2 Review
Nov. 5 Midterm
Nov. 7 Three-dimensional Schroedinger equation
Nov. 9  Three-dimensional square wells
Nov. 12 Angular Momentum
Nov. 14 Three-dimensional spherical wells
Nov. 16 Hydrogen atom
Nov. 19 Hydrogen atom
Nov. 21 Hydrogen atom
Nov. 26 Fine and hyperfine structure
Nov. 28
Nov. 30
Dec. 3
Dec. 5 Complicated atoms, molecular binding, chemistry
Dec. 7 Review
Dec. 10 Review
Dec.  19 Final: 8:00 am, room 1201


Homework will be posted here, together with the solutions when available (the solutions are no longer available).

homework 1, due sept. 19 before class  solution
homework 2, due October 3rd solution
homework 3, due October 10th, before the test solution
homework 4, due october 24th before class solution
homework 5, due November 16th before class solution
homework 6, due december 5th before class solution

midterm_1   solution
midterm_2   solution

final solution

Lectures Notes: historical development
Lecture Notes: summary up to first midterm
probability current
Potential barriers notes
Lecture Notes: summary

Interesting links:

Blackbody radiation

You can buy your own blackbody here

A nice figure of the blackbody spectrum.

The Universe as a blackbody: the spectrum from COBE and the tiny variations of the temperature with the direction in space. More about the COBE sattelite.

Even NASA scientists know that holes are really dark, even in Mars.

Photoelectric effect:

An applet that simulates the photoelectric effect. Try  varying the different handles and predicting the outcome !


A beautiful picture of the absoprtion spectrum of the Sun. Part of the hydrogen, mercury and neon emission spectra and the hydrogen absorption spectrum is shown here. Notice how the emission and absoprtion spectra of the hydrogen match. Based on their wavelength, can you ideintify the hydrogen lines (meaning, find out the initial and final states of the electron emiting those photons) ?

Electron double-slit experiment

The quantum Truth before your very eyes:  Fantastic movie with a real implementation of the double slit experiment with electrons from researchers at Hitachi (courtesy of Prof. L. Orozco).

Infinite square well

I made a little  movie showing the time evolution of a NON-stationary state of the infinite square well potential. This particular state is an equal superposition of the ground and first excited states.

Wave packets

A movie I made showing two sine waves with similar velocity and wavelength (in red) interfering to make a wave packet (in blue). The two dots follow one of the waves, at phase velocity, while the other follows the top of the wave packet, moving at group velocity. The relation between wavelength and frequency is the same as in quantum mechanics so the group velocity is twice the phase velocity.

Movies showing wave packets colliding with walls, etc..

Applet showing a wave packet tunneling through a barrier.

Schwarz inequality

Terence Tao has an insightful discussion on how one could invent a proof of the Schwarz inequality. It ays to understand how great minds work !

Visualize Hydrogen atom orbitals

Great visualization program for hydrogen atom wave functions, courtesy of R. Hitchcock.

Good article on Otto Stern and the discovery of spin


Very useful applets (physlets) illustrating various aspects of quantum mechanics.

Cool quantum mechanics applets from the Ecole Polytechnique.

Lots of good quantum applets, courtesy of  Charles Hawkins.

Problems with solutions and study aids

Homeworks and solutions from previous years can be very useful.

An article warning of frequent conceptual mistakes often made.

More problems with solutions (some of them using material not covered in the class).