Physics 207 2011

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Physics 207: Modern Physics is an intermediate level introduction to non-relativistic Quantum Mechanics. We will develop the Schrodinger equation and apply it to a variety of systems. This will include simple one dimensional systems and more complex three dimensional systems like the Hydrogen atom. Once we have some experience applying the formalism of quantum mechanics, we will examine the implications of the theory by studying statistical mechanics, blackbody radiation, nuclear physics, and particle physics.

Calculus will be used heavily and constantly in both the presentation of the course and the work you will be expected to complete. We will review some mathematics when necessary (particularly in the case of multivariate calculus).

Particle tracks from a detector at an accelerator.


Basic Information

Meeting Time and Location

Meeting times: MWF 10:00-10:50AM

Location: Pfahler Hall, Room 013


Instructor: Prof. Thomas Carroll

Office: Pfahler 101E

Office Hours

See my full schedule


Townsend cover.jpg

Textbook: Quantum Physics: A Fundamental Approach to Modern Physics

by John S. Townsend

University Science Books

ISBN 978-1-891389-62-7


Homework is due every Wednesday at class time. It will be returned at the start of the next class. Each problem is graded using the following scheme:

  • 5: good effort with correct results and reasoning
  • 4: good effort with minor errors or a fair effort with no conceptual or math errors
  • 3: good effort with modest conceptual errors and/or math errors or a fair effort with minor errors
  • 2: fair effort involving modest conceptual errors or a good effort involving serious conceptual errors
  • 1: poor effort
  • 0: no initial effort

A good effort involves at least some English explanation and/or use of appropriate diagrams along with calculations and/or some recognition of an implausible result. If you cannot solve a problem after a reasonable effort you should at least indicate in words what information appears to be missing, and/or where and why you are stumped. Be sure to write something for every part of a problem. You will earn a maximum of 2 points if you do the wrong problem.

Solutions will be posted on the Blackboard site for the class when the graded problems are returned. You may consult the solutions and correct your errors to earn up to 2 points back on each problem.

The problems from the textbook are challenging. Here are some tips for working on the problem sets:

  • Read the problems as early as you can; this will give you time to think about them.
  • Work on the problems independently first.
  • When you're ready, work in a group.
  • Finally, make sure that you can write up the solution independently, without asking for assistance.

There are also a few "workshops" that we will work on using Mathematica during class in small groups. When the time comes, I'll help you to install Mathematica on your laptops. The workshops will count as part of your homework grade.

Late Homework

Once the solutions are posted, late homework will not be accepted. Before that time, late homework will be accepted at a 50% penalty unless prior arrangements are made.

Dropped Homework Grades

The lowest homework grade is automatically dropped. If at least 90% of the class completes the SPTQ at the end of the semester, the two lowest homework grades will be dropped.

Reading Assignments

There is a reading assignment nearly every day. It is of the utmost importance that you keep up with the reading. The lectures will not explain every detail of every topic covered in the text; rather, they will expand on the text and help you learn how to solve problems. The reading assignments are generally short and the time you put into them will make you much better at working on the problem sets. Here are some tips for reading the textbook:

  • Don't skim over equations! Read them carefully and make sure that you understand all of the terms.
  • If a derivation skips a few steps, fill them in--right there in your textbook.
  • Work out the example problems; one of the strengths of this text is that there are many examples.

Course Schedule


There are three exams and three quizzes in this course. There is no cumulative final exam.

  • Quiz 1 (Ch 1, Ch 2: 2.1-2.6), 2/3
  • Exam 1 (Ch. 1-3), 2/22
  • Quiz 2 (Ch. 4), 3/17
  • Exam 2 (Ch. 4-6), 4/5
  • Quiz 3 (Ch. 7), 4/19
  • Exam 3 (Ch. 7-10), Final Exam Day

Exams 1 and 2 are two hour exams. You must take the exam during a two-hour block of time on the exam day between 8am and 5pm. You will have three hours for Exam 3.

The quizzes will be 15-20 minutes each and consist primarily of multiple choice questions



The lecture schedule is as follows, with reading assignments:

Date Topic Reading Assignment Problem Set
1/18 Review of Interference and Diffraction, the Photoelectric Effect Ch 1.1-1.3
1/20 Compton Scattering, Probability, Single Photon Interference Ch 1.4-1.6
1/25 Interference and Probability Problem Set 1 due: Ch 1: 1, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 19
1/27 The Schroedinger Equation and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Ch 2.1-2.6


Date Topic Reading Assignment Problem Set
2/1 Expectation Values Ch 2.8-2.10 Problem Set 2 due: Ch 1: 24, 26, 27, 45; Ch. 2: 2, 5, 7
2/3 Separation of variables, Particle in box Ch. 3.1-3.2 Quiz #1 - Ch 1, Ch 2: 2.1-2.6
2/8 Time Dependence, Statistical Interpretation of QM Ch. 3.3 Problem Set 3 due: Ch. 2: 15, 16, 20, 22, 35
2/10 Eigenvalues and Eigenfunctions Ch. 3.4
2/15 Infinite Square Well Workshop Problem Set 4 due: Ch. 3: 1, 3, 6, 7, 9
2/17 Finite Square Well and Wave Functions Ch. 4.1-4.2
2/22 Exam #1: Chapters 1-3
2/24 Simple Harmonic Oscillator, Tunneling Ch. 4.3-4.5


Date Topic Reading Assignment Problem Set
3/1 Simple Harmonic Oscillator Workshop Problem Set 5 due: Ch. 4: 2, 4, 5, 8, 17
3/3 Dirac Delta Function, Scattering 4.6-4.7
3/15 The Parity Operator and Commutation Ch. 5.1-5.4 Problem Set 6 due: Ch. 4: 12, 16, 18, 30
3/17 Commutation and Uncertainty Ch. 5.5-5.7 Quiz #2: Ch. 4
3/22 Schrodinger in Three Dimensions and Hydrogen Ch. 6.1-6.4 Problem Set 7 due: Ch. 5: 2, 4, 11
3/24 Spin Ch. 6.5, Spherical Harmonics in Mathematica
3/29 Spin and Multiparticle Systems Ch. 7.1-7.2 Problem Set 8 due: Ch. 6: 6, 14, 15, 26
3/31 Quantum Statistics Ch. 7.4-7.5


Date Topic Reading Assignment Problem Set
4/5 Exam #2: Ch. 4-6
4/7 Cavity Radiation Finish Ch. 7
4/12 Ch 7 problems
4/14 Band Structure Ch. 8.1 Problem Set 9 due: Ch. 7: 3, 6, 16, 18, 24
4/19 Electrical Properties of Solids Finish Ch. 8 Quiz #3: Ch. 7
4/21 Curve of Binding Energy, Radioactivity Ch. 9.1-9.3 Problem Set 10 due: Ch.8: 1, 3, 5
4/26 Nuclear Fission and Fusion Finish Ch. 9
4/28 Ch. 10 Problem Set 11 due: Ch. 9: 1, 4, 5, 16, 21
5/12 Extra Credit Problems due: Ch. 10: 1, 3, 4, 8, 13, 14
5/12 Exam #3: Ch. 7-9 9am - 12pm


Your grade will consist of three parts:

  • 3 Exams - 60%
  • 3 Quizzes - 15%
  • Homework - 25%
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