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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS3641 Advanced Physics 3 (2012/13)

Details of the module's prerequisites, learning outcomes, assessment and contact hours are given in the official module description in the Faculty Handbook - follow the link above.  A detailed description of the module's content is given below, together with book lists and a link to the current library catalogue entries.  For an explanation of the library's categorisation system see


Modern Atomic and Optical Physics

Dr D. Carty

12 lectures + 2 examples classes in Michaelmas Term


Required: Atomic Physics, C J. Foot (Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0 19 850696 1)
The course is defined by material contained in this book and in particular the material defined in the syllabus below where the numbers refer to the sections in the book.



  1. Revision of fine structure; adding atomic angular momenta; term symbols; hyperfine structure; the F quantum number; atomic transitions and selection rules [Foot Chapter 2, Sections 4.5, and 4.6.]
  2. The hyperfine structure of hydrogen and alkali-metal atom ground states [Foot Sections 6.1.]
  3. Electric and magnetic dipole interactions. The electron distribution of a superposition of states. Spontaneous emission. The Einstein A coefficient [Foot Sections 1.7, 2.2.]
  4. Interaction of a 2-level atom with a resonant field. The Rabi solution. Stimulated emission [Foot Section 6.4.2, Chapter 7.]
  5. The Ramsey technique. Transit-time broadening [Foot Sections 7.4 and 8.2.]
  6. The Zeeman effect. The Breit-Rabi diagram for hydrogen and the alkali-metal atoms [Foot Section 6.3.]
  7. Light forces. Photon momentum. Laser cooling [Foot Chapter 9.]
  8. The atomic fountain clock [Foot Section 9.9]
  9. Frontiers of metrology.


Optical Properties of Solids

Dr S. Brand

12 lectures + 2 examples classes in Michaelmas and Epiphany Term


Required: Optical Properties of Solids, M. Fox (Second Edition, Oxford University Press 2010)
The course is defined by this book and in particular the material defined in the syllabus below where the numbers refer to the sections in the book.
Required: Introduction to Solid State Physics, C. Kittel (Wiley)
The course is defined by this book, in particular Chapters 14-15.


  1. Optical coefficients, complex refractive index, dielectric constant, classification of optical materials [Fox Chapter 1.1-1.4]
  2. Optics in the solid state: crystal symmetry, electronic bands, vibronic bands, density of states [Fox Chapter 1.5-1.6]
  3. Propagation of light in an optical medium: atomic, vibrational and free electron oscillators [Fox Chapter 2.1]
  4. The dipole oscillator model: Lorentz oscillator, Kramers-Kronig equations [Fox Chapter 2.2, Kittel Chapter 15]
  5. Dispersion, anisotropy, birefringence [Fox Chapter 2.3-2.4]
  6. Interband absorption: transition rates, joint density of states, electric field (Franz-Keldysh) and magnetic field effects, indirect band absorption [Fox Chapter 3.1-3.3]
  7. Exciton states: binding energy, Frenkel excitons: alkali halides, organic molecules [Fox Chapter 4, Kittel Chapter15]
  8. Light emission in solids: interband luminescence emission, spontaneous emission rates, solid state optical devices (LEDs) [Fox Chapter 5.1-5.2, 5.4]
  9. Free electron effects in solids: plasma reflectivity, plasmons [Fox Chapter 7.1-7.3, 7.5, Kittel Chapter 14]
  10. Optical properties of molecules: electronic-vibrational coupling, configuration coordinate diagrams, Franck-Condon principle, stokes shift [Fox Chapter 8.1-8.3, Kittel Chapter 15]
  11. Vibrational states: optically active phonons, polariton coupled optical-vibrational states, polarons, inelastic light scattering [Fox Chapter 10, Kittel Chapter 15]
  12. Nonlinear optics: nonlinear susceptibility, resonant non-linearities, frequency mixing [Fox Chapter 11.1-11.2]

Soft Condensed Matter Physics

Prof T. McLeishDr S. Fielding and Dr E. Bromley 12 lectures + 2 examples classes in Epiphany Term


Required: Soft Condensed Matter, R. A. L. Jones (Oxford Master Series in Physics, 2002, ISBN 0 19 850589)
The course is defined by this book, in particular Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 9.

Syllabus: An overview of soft matter and the length scales, time scales and forces that are relevant. Polymer structure, dynamics and elasticity. Phase transitions in soft condensed matter. Equilibrium phase diagrams and liquid-liquid demixing. The kinetics of phase separation. Self assembly of amphiphilic molecules through aggregation and phase separation. Polymer and block copolymer self-assembly.


3 lectures in Easter Term, one by each lecturer.

Teaching Methods

Lectures: 2 one-hour lectures per week.

Examples classes: These provide an opportunity to work through and digest the course material by attempting exercises and assignments assisted by direct interaction with the lecturers and demonstrators. Students will be divided into groups, each of which will attend one one-hour class every 3 weeks.

Problem exercises: See