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Experimental Methods in Quantum Physics

  • Not Offered

4 units

Letter or Credit/No Credit

Experimental physics lab course aimed at providing an understanding of and appreciation for experimental methods in physics, including the capabilities and limitations, both fundamental and technical. Students perform experiments that use optics, lasers, and electronics to measure fundamental constants of nature, perform measurements at the atomic level, and analyze results. Goals include developing an understanding of measurement precision and accuracy through concepts of spectral-analysis of coherent signals combined with noise. We explore the fundamental limits to measurement set by thermal noise at finite temperature, as well as optical shot-noise in photo-detection that sets the standard quantum limit in detecting light. Spectroscopy of light emitted from atoms reveals the quantum nature of atomic energy levels, and when combined with theoretical models provides information on atomic structure and fundamental constants of nature (e.g. the fine structure constant that characterizes the strength of all electro-magnetic interactions, and the ratio of the electron mass to the proton mass, me/mp. Experiments may include laser spectroscopy to determine the interatomic potential, effective spring constant, and binding energy of a diatomic molecule, or measure the speed of light. This course will provide hands-on experience with semiconductor diode lasers, basic optics, propagation and detection of optical beams, and related electronics and laboratory instrumentation.nFor lab notebooks the class uses an integrated online environment for data analysis, curve fitting, (system is based on Jupyter notebooks, Python, and document preparation). Prerequisites: PHYSICS 40 series and PHYSICS 70, or 60 series, PHYSICS 120, PHYSICS 130; some familiarity with basic electronics is helpful but not required. Very basic programming in Python is needed, but background with Matlab, Origin, or similar software should be sufficient to come up to speed for the data analysis.

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