Classical and Quantum Physics

Queensland University of Technology

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Classical and Quantum Physics

  • Host University

    Queensland University of Technology

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Physics

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    PVB202 or PVB204 

  • Course Level Recommendations

    Upper

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    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

    12
  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Quantum mechanics is the last great conceptual hurdle for a physics graduate to overcome in an undergraduate degree, irrespective of any bias towards the theoretical or experimental aspects. Counter-intuitive concepts such as quantum tunnelling are the cornerstone of many technological advances in recent times and other quantum mechanical concepts form the physical basis of the universe.  The ability to find counter-intuitive solutions to problems when necessary is one of the attributes that sets physicists apart.

    Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this unit, you will provide evidence of: 
    1.Knowledge of the core concepts and postulates of quantum theory and its historical development.
    2.Application of quantum theory to explain behaviour of quantum particles in simple quantum systems.
    3.Analysis of the quantum theory of individual atoms and its link to energy level structures and spectroscopic observations.
    4.Application of mathematical approaches in quantum mechanics to describe the electronic and properties of simple solids.
    5.Advanced problem solving relating to classical mechanics.

    Content
    The classical mechanics part of this unit will continue on from previous studies with more advanced topics, including Hamilton's equations of motion. 

    The quantum mechanics part of this unit consists of two main sections. The first module is a historical perspective of the development of modern quantum theory and starts by looking at why classical physics is unable to explain blackbody radiation, discrete emission spectra, and the photoelectric effect. From this platform, we then look at how these deficiencies led to counterintuitive concepts of wave-particle duality and the uncertainty principle and the subsequent probabilistic nature of quantum physics. Since no quantity can be precisely determined, wavefunctions are introduced to allow physical properties of the system to be evaluated by performing measurement operations to reveal expectation values. An interesting property of measurement operators is that they do not always compute and the far reaching implications this has on a system's behaviour will be investigated. The first section concludes by considering Schroedinger's equation and how it can be used to fully describe the state of a quantum system by revealing the appropriate wavefunction. 

    Having established the fundamentals of modern quantum theory, we move to the second section which applies this knowledge to important physical systems. We will see that the quantum treatment of the infinite potential well is crucial in understanding the electronic and thermal properties of crystalline solids. Extending this by introducing the Pauli exclusion principle, the free electron behaviour of metals is revealed. We consider variants of the potential well problem and show how they lead to classic quantum effects such as quantum tunnelling which is the operating mechanism of many semiconductor devices. Another important system- the simple harmonic oscillator - is then analysed with our quantum theory and the ground state energy of the oscillator is determined at absolute zero. We then consider an imperfect simple harmonic oscillator and introduce first order stationary perturbation theory to correctly predict its behaviour. The last physical system in this section we analyse with quantum theory is the hydrogen atom and by introducing the concept of spin, we explain many of the features that are observed in the atom's emission and absorption spectrum.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.