UW Physics


Physics 545 Introduction to atomic structure

fall semester 2017

T,Th  1:00-2:15 in 2104 Chamberlin,

Office hours: M 9-10, T 8:30-9:30, W 9-10, or by appointment, or just stop by. 

Final Exam TBD

Mark Saffman
Department of Physics
office: 5330 Chamberlin
tlf: 265 5601
email: msaffman@wisc.edu
web: hexagon.physics.wisc.edu

Course catalog description: Nuclear atom; hydrogen atom; Bohr-Sommerfeld model, wave model, electron spin, description of quantum electron spin, description of quantum electrodynamic effects; external fields; many-electron atoms; central field, Pauli principle, multiplets, periodic table, x-ray spectra, vector coupling, systematics of ground states; nuclear effects in atomic spectra. Prerequisites: A course in quantum mechanics or cons inst.Course listing in UW timetable.

The recommended (not required) supplementary textbook is G. K. Woodgate, Elementary atomic structure, Oxford

Several alternative texts are available on course reserves.

Books on atomic physics

Syllabus (subject to change) (updated 2017.09.12)

week lecture   date topic

reading in atomic notes

reading in Woodgate HW out HW due
1 1 Th Sept 7 Introduction, Bohr model, atomic units, Schr. Eq., H atom        
2 2 T Sept 12 degeneracy, orbitals, <r^k>, quantum defects, Coulomb wavefunctions, matrix elements, start fine structure ch. 1 ch. 1,2 1  
  3 Th Sept 14 fine structure in H and alkalis, angular momentum theory: C-G coefficients, tensor operators, Wigner-Eckart theorem ch. 2 ch. 4    
3 4 T Sept 19 finish angular momentum, tutorial on atomic clocks appendix A   2 1
  5 Th Sept 21 hyperfine structure, Lamb shift, muonic Lamb shift   ch. 9    
4 6 T Sept 26 Zeeman effect and mixing, hyperfine Zeeman, start magic magnetic field ch.4   3 2
  7 Th Sept 28 magic B field, Stark effect, HE1, scalar, tensor polarizability        
5 8 T Oct 3 linear Stark effect, BBR shift     4 3
  9 Th Oct 5 Einstein A,B, area law, Lorentzian lineshape, saturation, cross section ch.5 ch.3    
6 10 T Oct 10 TDPT, Fermi golden rule, semiclassical B coefficient, E1 and M2 lifetimes, circular states ch.6   5 4
  11 Th Oct 12          
7 12 T Oct 17         5
    Th Oct 19 Midterm in class        
8 13 T Oct 24 He energy levels, singlet, triplet structure, direct and exchange integrals ch. 3 ch. 5 6  
  14 Th Oct 26 central field approximation, N-electron allowed terms, determinantal products   ch. 6, 7    


T Oct 31 matching terms and determinantal products, fine structure     7 6
  16 Th Nov 2 Zeeman effect, Hund's rules   ch. 8    
10 17 T Nov 7 line broadening mechanisms: radiative, Doppler, pressure, collisional, absorption spectroscopy ch. 7   8 7
  18 Th Nov 9 Continuum states and photoionization - simple model, Dynamic polarizability ch. 8, 9      
11 19 T

Nov 14

Polarizability continued, Gaussian beam light shift, Rabi oscillations ch. 10   9 8
  20 Th Nov 16 density matrix theory, two-level Bloch equations        
12 21 T Nov 21 two-photon transitions, dark states, optical forces       9
    Th Nov 23 Thanksgiving        
13 22 T Nov 28 Special Topics: laser cooling, atomic interactions, coherent interactions of atoms and light, ....     10  
  23 Th Nov 30          
14 24 T Dec 5       11 10
  25 Th Dec 7          
15 26 T Dec 12         11
        Final exam or project        

Grading: HW 50%, midterms 25%, final or final project 25%


Homework is an important part of the course and accounts for 50% of your grade. Working problems is an integral part of learning physics, and will also give you practice in applying mathematical methods. You are encouraged to use the math resources provided in the notes and links below.

Homework will typically be given out on a tuesday and due the following tuesday. You are welcome to work together on homework, however you must turn in your own solutions - not a Xerox copy of someone else's. Late homework will not be accepted unless prior approval has been given. Assignments and solutions will be provided by email.

Material covered in class lectures:

atomic notes (updated 2017.09.19)

9.12: added some material to chapter 1

9.14: added material to sec. 1.8.1, minor changes to Ch. 2

9.19: minor updates to Ch. 1,2

Notes on various topics:



Physical constants (updated 2013.09.03) if you want all the details here are the CODATA 2010 recommended values and NIST's 2014 updates.

Conversion between Gaussian and SI units (v1.2, 2009.01.20)

Quantum mechanics primer (updated 2016.09.27)

Mathematical formulae (updated 2017.09.08)

Special relativity notes (version 1.2, updated 2008.02.17) A good introduction to special relativity that is much more detailed than my notes can be found here.

Tutorial on Fourier transforms Note that this tutorial uses a different convention than us. The prefactor in one-dimension is 1/(2pi) for the inverse transform (k->x) and just 1 for the forward transform (x->k). We are using a symmetric form where the prefactor is 1/sqrt(2 pi) in each direction.

Some interesting papers related to the course:


Einstein photoelectric effect (1905)

Einstein special relativity (1905)

Einstein radiation theory (1917)

Einstein and quantum theory (review 1979)

H matrix elements:

Gordon matrix elements (1929)


H Fine structure, hyperfine structure, and Lamb shift:

Lamb original measurement (1947)

Series of six papers by Lamb, et al. giving more experimental and theoretical details (1950-1953)


Welton's Lamb shift calculation (1948)

Newer calculations (1967)

Newer experiments (1979)

Cs microwave clock:

NIST F1 accuracy (2002)


Absorption in atomic vapors:

Rb D lines, Hughes, Adams (2008)

Rb saturated absorption spectroscopy, Freegarde (2010)

Purcell effect:

Purcell effect(1946)

Haroche observation of enhanced decay (1983)

Kleppner theory of inhibited decay (1981)

Kleppner observation of inhibited decay (1985)


Space quantization (1937)

Magnetic resonance note (1938)

Molecular beam magnetic resonance method (1939)

Laser cooling:

Adams laser cooling review (1997)

Letokhov laser cooling and trapping review (2000)

Metcalf laser cooling review (2003)

subDoppler cooling of Na (1988)



Atomic parity nonconservation:

Bouchiat derivation of relevant weak interaction (1974)

Bouchiat review of parity nonconservation (1997)

JILA experiment (1997)

JILA experiment - all the details (1999)

Links to useful information:

Periodic table

NIST Physical reference data

NIST Atomic Spectroscopy reference

Harvard CFA databases

Wikipedia - atomic physics

Physics World

Math World

Wolfram function site

Digital library of mathematical functions

Abramowitz & Stegun Handbook of Mathematical Functions

Integrals on the web

Clebsch-Gordan calculator

6j symbol calculator

Matrix solver for linear equations on the web