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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS4121 Atomic and Optical Physics (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


Lasers and Spectroscopy

Dr S.L. Cornish

18 lectures in Michaelmas Term


Required: Laser Physics, Simon Hooker and Colin Webb (OUP)
Required: Laser Fundamentals, William T. Silfvast (CUP, 2nd Ed.)
Additional: Principles of Lasers, Orazio Svelto (Plenum, 4th Ed.)
Additional: Atomic Physics, Christopher J. Foot (OUP)
Additional: Modern Classical Optics, Geoffrey Brooker (OUP)
Additional: Atomic and Laser Spectroscopy, Alan Corney (OUP)

Syllabus: Definition of a laser. Atom-light interactions. Amplification of light by stimulated emission. The laser oscillator. Laser pumping and population inversion. Transient behaviour and pulsed operation. Cavity effects. Laser properties and applications with specific case studies. Atomic spectroscopy.

Atoms, Photons and Qubits

Dr I.G. Hughes

18 lectures in Epiphany Term


Additional: Quantum Computation and Quantum Information, M.A. Nielsen and I.L. Chuang (CUP)
Additional: A Short Introduction to Quantum Compilation, M.L. Bellac (CUP)
Additional: Atomic Physics, C.J. Foot (OUP)
Additional: Quantum Information, S. Barnett (OUP)

Syllabus: Atomic physics for quantum computing: Introduc-tion to quantum computer, entanglement; two-level model of atom-light interactions; Rabi oscillations; equivalence to a spin-½, quantum interference (Ramsey fringes); decoherence; quantum gates; Rydberg blockade.


2 lectures in Easter Term, one by each lecturer


Teaching methods

Lectures: 2 one-hour lectures per week

Problem exercises: See