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Last updated 2020-Nov-24

Physics 523: Quantum Mechanics, Fall 2020


The course was scheduled to meet on MWF from 10-10:50am in Crow 205 but has now officially moved online at the same time using Canvas and Zoom. Class will start on Monday, September 14. The enrollment in this class is such that this will still allow a very interactive and meaningful exposure to the main ideas and techniques of Quantum Mechanics. I look forward to meeting you in the Fall!

It will be important to clarify your ability to be directly involved during class. I plan to contact students that are preregistered shortly to identify possible problems. Both audio and video is important to have the greatest benefit for this class. Additional flexibility will be built in as I plan to record the lectures in Canvas.

Willem Dickhoff
Office: Compton 371; Email:
Office hours: Thursday 1-3 and by email appointment
AI: Daria Kowsari
Office: Crow 106 ; Phone: 5-xxx; Email:
Office hours: Thursday 9-10 and by email appointment


Course Textbooks: Modern Quantum Mechanics (Addison-Wesley; 2nd edition) (2011) by Sakurai and Napolitano, ISBN-13: 978-0805382914 (hardcover).
We will cover a substantial fraction of the material in this book during the Fall Semester. It may also be used in the Spring Semester.
Quantum Mechanics: Fundamentals (Springer; 2nd edition) (2004) by Gottfried and Yan, ISBN-13: 978-0387220239 (softcover).
This book is not as friendly but is written at a higher level. Students interested in theory are advised to consider this book in addition to Sakurai.
Both are recommended. You are expected to have a copy of one of these books available at all times. .
Other useful books: Additional books that you should consult once in a while in the library are:
Cohen-Tannoudji et al.
Landau & Lifshitz
Weinberg 2nd edition
Griffiths (for review of undergraduate material)
Dickhoff and Van Neck (for many-fermion and many-boson material)
(All are on reserve in the physics library Note: I don't yet know how this works in practice but I have almost all the listed books in my study at home and can identify useful sections in those books with some screen shots perhaps.)

Course outline

The course is defined by the material discussed in the lectures and reviewed in the problem sets. A preliminary schedule is given below with references to the Sakurai book. It includes the covered material in the book, the subject, date of class, and the homework schedule.

Subject material meeting date Hwk
#1 Intro course etc. Reminder of wave mechanics 9/14/2020
#2 Chapter 1.1-2 First analysis Stern-Gerlach experiment 9/16/2020
#3 Chapter 1.2-3 Hilbert space; Dirac notation; kets, bras, operators 9/18/20 Problems Set 1
Chapter 1.3 Unitary transformations; Eigenvalues & eigenvectors
#5 Chapter 1.3-4
Measurement postulates (Dirac)
#6 Chapter 1.4 More Stern-Gerlach analysis 9/25/2020 Problems Set 2
Homework due
Set 1
Chapter 1.4 Compatible observables 9/28/2020
#8 Chapter 1.4-5 Incompatible observables and basis transformations 9/30/2020
#9 Chapter 1.4 Uncertainty relations 10/2/2020 Problem Set 3
Homework due Set 2
#10 Chapter 1.6 Continuous observables; position and momentum 10/5/2020
#11 Chapter 1.6 Quantization; Familiar commutator; Translations 10/7/2020
#12 Chapter 1.7 Coordinate space; Wave functions 10/9/2020 Problem Set 4
Homework due
Set 3
#13 Chapter 2.1 Equations of motion 10/12/2020
#14 Chapter 2.2 Schroedinger picture vs Heisenberg picture 10/14/2020
Measurement S. vs. H.picture 10/16/2020 Problem Set 5
Homework due
Set 4
#16 Chapter 2.2 Ehrenfest and classical equations; time-energy uncertainty relation 10/19/2020
#17 Chapter 2.3 Illustration with harmonic oscillator 10/21/2020
#18 Chapter 2.3 More harmonic oscillator; wave functions 10/23/2020 Problem Set 6 Homework due Set 5
#19 Chapter 2.3 Harmonic oscillators in classical physics and examples 10/26/2020
#20 Chapter 3.1 Angular momentum; rotations 10/28/2020
#21 Chapter 3.1-2 Consistency of rotations and commutation relations of angular momentum; Spin 1/2 and rotations 10/30/2020 Problem Set 7
Homework due
Set 6
#22 Chapter 3.5 Eigenvalues and eigenstates of angular momentumno class 11/2/2020
#23 Chapter 3.2 Pauli two-component formalism 11/4/2020
#24 Chapter 3.2,3.6 Rotations in two-component formalism; orbital angular momentum 11/6/2020 Problem Set 8
Homework due Set 7
#25 Chapter 3.6 Orbital angular momentum; spherical harmonics 11/9/2020
#26 Chapter 3.6 Preparation for problems with spherical symmetry; Schroedinger equation 11/11/2020

#27 Chapter 3.7 Schroedinger equation for central potentials; free particles; spherical Bessel functions; limits of wave functions near the origin and at infinity (bound states) 11/13/2020
Problem Set 9
Homework due Set 8
#28 Chapter 3.7
3D Harmonic oscillator alternative treatment 11/16/2020
continued; states and wave functions 11/18/2020
Numerical solution of bound-state eigenvalue problems with spherical symmetry 11/20/2020 Problem Set 10 Homework due Set 9
#31 Chapter 3.7
Hydrogen atom alternative treatment 11/23/2020

#32 Chapter 3.7 Atoms; Hydrogen in momentum space and (e,2e) reaction 11/25/2020

Thanksgiving break no class 11/27/2020
#33 Chapter 3.8 Addition of angular momentum 11/30/2020
#34 Chapter 3.8 Continued 12/2/2020
#35 Chapter 3.10 Bell's inequality 12/4/2020 Problem Set 11 Homework due Set 10
#36 Chapter 3.3 and 3.11 Euler angles; Spherical harmonics & rotation matrices 12/7/2020
#37 Chapter 3.11 Tensor operators and angular momentum 12/9/2020
#38 Chapter 3.11 Wigner-Eckert theorem 12/11/2020 Problem Set 12
Homework due Set 11
#39 Chapter 3.11 continued 12/14/2020
#40 Chapter 3.7
Nuclei and the shell model (3D-oscillator picture) 12/16/2020
Some nuclear considerations related to the (e,e'p) reaction 12/18/2020 Homework due Set 12

Individual interviews instead of written exam

Grading and format of the course


Homework: Students are encouraged to form study groups and discuss the homework with each other, but each student must write his or her own solutions. You may be asked to discuss solution strategies of homework problems during class.

Course materials

Homework solutions

Course Evaluation

During the evaluation period you can supply your evaluation of the course at the course evaluation website.