Graduate Course: Quantum Physics

John Venables, Dept of Physics, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

PHY/NAN 571: Quantum Physics

The current PHY/NAN 571 course is being given in Fall 2009 by Dr Dmitry Matyushov. His course page, created for Fall 2008, is at His course refers to my course timetable and to notes that are accessible from this page. My other ASU graduate course is PHY/NAN 546: Surfaces and Thin Films. That coure was given in Spring 2009, and is being developed in the context of of the PSM in Nanoscience degree program. Now read on if you want to...

My Quantum Physics course was given again in the Spring semester 2008; the line number was 30830. Some of you may be interested to access a related course Quantum Mechanical Models of Solids, developed at Sussex University in England in Fall 1999-2000, and most recently given again in Fall 2005.

If you are interested in joining the Quantum Physics course, now or in future, click here.

Start by consulting the timetable #1, which contains room numbers and office hours as well as lecture times and assignment deadlines. This year the course has been organized into five modules that can be accessed from the Introduction and Outline.

An optional diagnostic test was given on January 28th; feedback was given to each person separately as needed. This test was based on some of the background material contained in Gasiorowicz chapters 1, 2 and parts of 3. An outline of this material can be downloaded here.

A page on Fourier transforms has been developed in collaboration with students. A page on Quantum resources has been developed for visualization and computation; both of these may be further developed this year.

Problem set #1 was collected on 4th February, and returned on the 11th. The present problem set is the final version; five questions out of 9 were expected.

Eigenvalue problems are listed as set out in the course text, and some of these problems are on Problem set #2. This set was due on Monday 25th February and was returned by Wednesday 5th March. Five questions were expected.

The midterm exam took place on Friday, 7th March, as a 50 minute closed book exam, featuring mainly concepts.

For after Spring Break timetable #2 is being developed, along with a suitable set of references. A web page on matrix methods was developed with the help of three students, and with the latest update in 2000. If you are going to do an individual project, you should start it soon after Spring Break.

Problem set #3 is due on Monday March 31st. The present version is the final version, and the first few questions were useful for the mid-term exam. Five questions out of 9 are expected.

Problem set #4 will be due on Friday, April 18th. Five questions out of 9 are expected; the initial version is now posted.

Problem set #5 will be due on Friday, May 2nd, before the final exam is issued at the revsion session on the same day. Comprehensive exam problems may also be submitted as substitute questions for sets 3, 4 and 5. Projects which were individually arranged are also due on May 2nd.

If you have questions during this course, please see me in person or email me at

This panel is of historical interest only. Students who wish to study this course in future should contact Dr Dmitry Matyushov. His course page, created for Fall 2008, is at

This course is for several sets of students, including Physics, Astronomy, Electrical Engineering, SEM and Materials Engineering students, and can take its character to some extent from those who join the course. It may also interest other Physics, Engineering and Chemistry students. It can be taken as a 'final' course in Quantum Physics, or in preparation for the PHY 576-577 course Quantum Theory series in the following year. For EEE students, it is a complementary or parallel course to EEE 434/591, taught by Prof. N.J. Tao or D. Ferry at a comparable level.

When I started giving this course, I consulted widely with faculty and students about the choice of material, books and problems to be set. This year, new editions of the course books are available (see below). During the course, as given since, I have built up some web-based resources, and links to further sources of information and animations, with student input. These resources will be further developed from this page as the 2008 course proceeds.

If you are interested in attending this course, please email me at giving some details of your background and needs.

The main book for the course is: Quantum Physics, 3rd Edition by Stephen Gasiorowicz, a 2003 book published by John Wiley (ISBN 0-471-05700-2). We have found a few errors in this book, which are listed here. This new edition has an associated web supplements, which contain extra information and more detailed derivations of particular topics. Here is an index to download some of these supplements that you may need.

The previous 1996 2nd edition (ISBN 0-471-85737-8) is still useful, and there may be some second-hand copies available. A picture of the said author, and a list of corrections for the 2nd edition, with of course suitable disclaimers, can be found here.

Optional books include the following:
Quantum Mechanics Simulations (ISBN 0-471-54884-7), which I use for demonstrations and optional problems. This book is now out of print, but if you have a copy, and the related CD, it can be useful.

Introductory Quantum Mechanics, 3rd Edition by Richard L. Liboff, a 1998 book published by Addison-Wesley (ISBN 0-201-87879). The 4th edition (2003) has removed some errors and added the topic of quantum computation.

Applied Quantum Mechanics by A.J.F. Levi, a 2003 book published by Cambridge (ISBN 0-521-52086X, paperback), which also contains a CD of MatLab programs. You should also tell me which book(s) you used as an undergraduate, because I aim to build on what you already know in this general area.

Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David J. Griffiths, a 1995 book published by Prentice-Hall (ISBN 0-13-124405-1), is one such undergraduate book, which many physicists have studied and enjoyed. But students from backgrounds other than physics may find it quite hard. For those students I would advise them to read and discuss the teaching philosophy advanced in the preface; I suspect you will either like it or not fairly strongly, as indeed may be the case with the other books. It is definitely worth consulting more than one book.

The books listed above have been ordered by the bookshop. I would advise you also to have access to a quantum physics, chemistry or whatever book which is nearer to your subject interest. That way, we can cater for individual needs to an extent as the course proceeds. Students with an EEE background should consider Levi's book, or Liboff's new edition described above. Students with a chemistry background may wish to have access to Molecular Quantum Mechanics, 3rd Edition by P.W. Atkins and R.S. Friedman, a 1997 book published by Oxford in both hardback (ISBN 0-19-855948) and paperback (ISBN 0-19-855947X) editions; the 4th edition (2003) is now available.

There are several other new books available, including Elements of Quantum Mechanics by M.D. Fayer (Oxford, 2001, ISBN 0-19-5141954) which goes rather more speedily through the same material with fewer illustrations and less historical background; this book looks very clear at a first read, and may be of interest for students who have physics/ chemistry interests and who don't like the main course text that much. Quantum Mechanics: Concepts and Applications by N. Zettili (John Wiley, 2001, ISBN 0-471-48944-1) is a substantial book, with many worked examples: but don't cheat, by writing his solutions out without understanding them! Another recent book is An Introduction to Quantum Theory by F.S. Levin (Cambridge, 2002, ISBN 0-521-59841-9). This is on the mathematical end of the spectrum, but it was used by Dr Comfort as a source of extra material in PHY 571 a few years ago, and could also be used as supplementary reading for Dr Schmidt's PHY 576-577 courses. These books have not been ordered via the bookshop for this course.

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