Physics 8.421 Spring 2016


                             Atomic and optical Physics







Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle




Prof. Isaac Chuang




Ivana Dimitrova




Matthew Nichols




Boris Shteynas




William Cody Burton



Melih Okan




Joanna Keseberg



Lectures:     most Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays 1:00-2:30pm

                        See calendar for schedule:  Course info and calendar

                        First day of classes: Wed, 2/3

NOTE (5/6/16):  Term paper is due on THURSDAY 5/12.  Please upload on the Stellar site.

Room            All classes in Room 4-163, except for 2/12, 2/19, 3/18 when we meet in 4-231


Paper homework

Module 2  AC Stark effect due on Fri, 3/11  Solutions

Module 3  Spont. emission due on Fri, 4/1  Solutions

Module 4:  Ramsey spectroscopy and echoes, due on Wed 4/27 .. Solutions



Previous midterm exams

2010   2012    2014


Feedback questionnaire responses


Midterm quiz with solutions


Results midterm


Office hours: 

Wolfgang Ketterle:  Wed 2:30-3:30 or by appointment (just send an e-mail ….)




Residential MITx site for 8.421 with lecture videos and online problems



Assignments for Problems

The due dates on this page are the valid ones.  If the MITx page or other pages show different due dates, ignore those.

Some problem sets have both online and paper components.  Please be sure to check due dates for each component.


All online assignments have to be finished for

Module One:  By Wed 2/24

Module Two:  By Wed 3/16

Module Three: By Mon 4/4

Module Four: By Mon 4/25

Module Five: By Mon 5/9


Assignements for Video Lectures :

The ten overview lectures provide the context, motivation and summary for each block (half a module).  You should the watch the video lectures before the disussion session where I assume that you are familiar with the material of the lectures.


Overview 1a (2/5):  Resonance and classical spin, watch M1.1 until 2/12

Overview 1b (2/16):  Quantum spin and density matrix


Term papers due:  Thu, 5/12/2016 (last day of classes at MIT).  Please submit online via Stellar.

Instructions for length, format and topics:  Course requirements


Midterm exam:  in class (1:00-2:30pm) 4/13

(closed book ---- all necessary formulae will be provided.  Exam will test understanding, rather than memorization).




Web Site for 2014                   Web Site for 8.422


Atomic Physics Wiki with Typed Lecture Notes


Old Class Write-Ups (from 2014) and papers for further reading

Resonance (Feb. 5, 10, 14, 18, 19)

Atoms (Feb. 19, 26, 28, March 3, 5)

            Dan Kleppner, Phys. Today article on hydrogen  pdf

            Evolution of hydrogen spectroscopy

            Clicker questions on atomic structure (March 5)

Atoms in external fields (March 5, 14, 17, 19)

Atom-light interactions (March 19, 31, April 2, 7, 9, 14)

            Einstein 1917 paper pdf

            Dan Kleppner’s Phys. Today column on Einstein’s paper  pdf

Line broadening (April 14, 16, 23, 25)

            Ramsey’s paper on Separated Oscillatory Fields  pdf

Two-photon excitation (April 25, 30)

Coherence (April 30, May 5, 7, 12, 14)

            Lounis and Cohen-Tannoudj paper on Fano profile pdf

            Dicke paper on Superradiance  pdf

            Superradiant Rayleigh Scattering from a Bose-Einstein Condensate  pdf

            Dicke:  The Coherence Brightened Laser  pdf


            Last class:

entanglement of many atoms by a single photon   Reichel group     Vuletic group

                        index of refraction and dispersive imaging:   notes     Varenna lectures

                        nature of bosonic enhancement:   stimulated emission     atom scattering


MIT Stellar grade management

Course info and calendar            Recommended books  Course requirements