Atomic and Molecular Physics (PHYS*4120)

Code and section: PHYS*4120*01

Term: Fall 2021

Instructor: Jaime Bohorquez Ballen


1 Course Details

1.1 Calendar Description

The application of quantum theory to atomic and molecular structure, and the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and atoms and simple molecules.

Pre-Requisites: PHYS*4040

Code and section: PHYS*4120*01 [0.5 credit]

1.2 Timetable

Day Time Location
Tuesday, Thursday 8:30a - 9:50a MCKN, Room 305

1.3 Final Exam

In person. Date: TBD

2 Instructional Support

2.1 Instructional Support Team

Instructor Email Office
Jaime Bohorquez MACN 330

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:00a-12:30p or by appointment

3 Learning Resources

At this stage of your education, you should be consulting more than one text to enhance your learning and understanding of the material. No particular book is perfect in all respects and scientists regularly refer to several books and papers to understand a concept.

3.1 Required Resources

  • The Fundamentals of Atomic and Molecular Physics, by R.L. Brooks, Springer 2013.  An electronic copy of this book is available through the UofG library.
  • Courselink (Website)
    Links to lectures, office hours, and assignments will be posted on Courselink.

3.2 Additional Resources

Familiarity with a quantum text of your choice is essential.  Griffiths’ “Quantum Mechanics” covers some of the material in this course.  Gerhard Herzberg’s “Atomic spectra and atomic structure” and “Molecular spectra and molecular structure, Vol 1” are gold mines of experimental information with wonderful qualitative discussions.

4 Teaching and Learning Activities

Topics for PHYS*4120:

Part 1: Atoms (~70%) 

  • Overview of atomic structure: Interaction and energy scales, qualitative effect of spin, Pauli principle. Some spectroscopic notation. 
  • Central forces and Angular momentum: Conmmutator relations, ladder operators, review of hydrogen atom solutions, spherical harmonics, spin angular momentum, addition of angular momentum. 
  • Dealing with many electrons: Pauli principle, anti-symmetrization. Variational principle with application to He, H-. Approximate treatment of more than two electrons – independent particle picture + perturbation treatment of e-e repulsion. 
  • Fine structure (spin-orbit coupling), hyperfine structure (nuclear spin and shape effects). 
  • External perturbations: Zeeman and Stark effects. 
  • Transition probabilities: Selection rules, Fermi’s golden rule. 

Part 2: Molecules (~30%) 

  • Born-Oppenheimer separation: Variational treatment of H2+. Molecular orbitals and qualitative treatment of H2 and first-row two diatomic molecules. Van der Waals forces. 
  • Vibration and rotation of diatomic molecules. Separation of variables, harmonic vibration and simple rotation. Anharmonic effects. Morse potential. Interpretation of molecular spectra, deduction of molecular constants. Selection rules, (nuclear) spin statistics. Thermal effects. 

5 Assessments

5.1 Marking Schemes & Distributions

Assessment Weight
Assignments  20%
Midterm   40%
Final 40%

The midterm test is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, 2021 from 8:30-9:50am, in-class.

Assignments (5-6) will be due approximately every two weeks, on the date of the deadline (no late assignments accepted unless prior arrangements have been made). Some questions will require computation (using python). High presentation standards are expected (legible hand writing, commented code, etc.)

6 Course Statements

6.1 Collaboration versus Copying

Scientists work alone or in groups, very often consulting fellow scientists and discussing their research problems with peers. Collaboration is a feature of scientific activity and there are many benefits to working with others. However, no ethical scientist would ever publish or claim the work of others as his or her own and generally scientists give reference to the appropriate source of ideas or techniques which are not their own.

You are a young scientist and, in this spirit, I encourage you to discuss with others as you learn the material and work on the problem assignments. However, the work that you submit as your assignment must be your own and not a copy of someone else’s work. Identical scripts will be given a mark of zero and plagiarism will be dealt with severely. I encourage you to cite your references, citing books and other articles when they are used and acknowledging discussions with those who have helped you in your understanding and completion of the problem. This is good scientific practice.

6.2 Course Evaluation Information

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member's contribution in the area of teaching. The Department's teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University of Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotions Committee only considers comments signed by students. Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

NOTE: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.

7 University Statements

7.1 COVID-19 Disclaimer

Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via CourseLink and/or class email. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.  


The University will not normally require verification of illness (doctor's notes) for fall 2020 or winter 2021 semester courses.  However, requests for Academic Consideration may still require medical documentation as appropriate.

7.2 Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

7.3 When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. The grounds for Academic Consideration are detailed in the Undergraduate and Graduate Calendars.  

7.4 Drop Date

Students will have until the last day of classes to drop courses without academic penalty. The deadline to drop two-semester courses will be the last day of classes in the second semester. This applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate and diploma) except for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Diploma in Veterinary Technology (conventional and alternative delivery) students. The regulations and procedures for course registration are available in their respective Academic Calendars. Undergraduate Calendar - Dropping Courses 

7.5 Copies of Out-of-class Assignments

Keep paper and/or other reliable back-up copies of all out-of-class assignments: you may be asked to resubmit work at any time.

7.6 Accessibility

The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs. To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student. When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS). Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required; however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway. Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability. Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to book their exams at least 7 days in advance and not later than the 40th Class Day.

7.7 Academic Integrity

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity, and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community-faculty, staff, and students-to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff, and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that encourages academic integrity. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor. Undergraduate Calendar - Academic Misconduct 

7.8 Recording of Materials

Presentations that are made in relation to course work - including lectures - cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a student, or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.

7.9 Resources

The Academic Calendars are the source of information about the University of Guelph’s procedures, policies, and regulations that apply to undergraduate, graduate, and diploma programs. Academic Calendars