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PHYS 576 A: Selected Topics in Experimental Physics

Meeting Time: 
TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
E E 539 C
Kai-Mei Fu

Syllabus Description:

EE539/PHYS576: Introduction to Quantum Optics for Quantum Information Applications

T/Th 3:30-5:20 p.m. 

  • Lectures will be live and automatically recorded during this time. 
  • Group activities/breakout sessions recordings will be cut from posted recordings.
  • Because there may be pre-recorded lectures, class may not always run the full 2 hours but they will start synchronously at 3:30.
  • Log in through Zoom using your UW NetID. Please practice this in advance. 

Zoom class link

Zoom Password: QIST4U

Schedule, Lecture notes, Homework


The course aims to give the student the basic tools to model simple quantum optical systems and to understand the current literature in the field. Topics include mathematical methods for quantum optics, quantization of the electromagnetic field, quantum states of light, quantum distribution theory, photon detection and quantum correlation functions, atom-classical field interactions, atom-quantum field interactions, open quantum systems and quantum optics applications. 


Instructor: Professor Kai-Mei Fu


Pronouns: she/her  (they/them is OK too!)

Office hours on Zoom class link: after class and by appointment

Zoom Password: QIST4U

TA1: Alan Logan (HW1,2,4,5,6)


Office hours on Zoom collaborative work session link (different from Lecture link)

           On weeks that problem sets are due: 5:30-7:00 p.m. on the due date

On weeks that there are not problem sets: 5:30-7:00 p.m. on Friday

Zoom Password: QIST4U

TA2: Hao Geng (HW 3,7)





Strong background in linear algebra required. Background in quantum mechanics (QM) and electromagnetism is helpful.


The main text is the course notes which are provided each week via pdf. However some students have found it valuable to have a text. Here are some recommended texts. Bold abbreviations are referred to in the course schedule.

HO: Handout : pdf course readings provided 

DM: David A.B. Miller Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers (in particular for students who have not taken QM)

SZ: Scully & Zubairy Quantum Optics

BM: Berman and Malinovsky Principles of Laser Spectroscopy and Quantum Optics

Steck’s Quantum Optics Notes

Cohen-Tannoudji, Dupont-Roc & Grynberg Photons and Atoms

Cohen-Tannoudji, Dupont-Roc, Grynberg Atom-photon interactions


Mathematica: Many problem sets will have a significant computational component. Any computational program is acceptable however Mathematica is recommended and is what will be supported by myself and the TA. It is free for all UW students. Instructions to download Mathematica are here.

QuTiP: We are currently investigating using this new tool to replace our use of Mathematica, since it is designed for the types of problems this course addresses. However as this is a new tool, we are introducing it slowly as we acquire the needed background to use this as the primary tool for this course. QuTiP is open source and available here.

Coursework and grading:

Problem sets: 78% (7 sets, lowest score dropped).  Homework is submitted via gradescope as a pdf.

Final Presentation: 22%

Problem sets are due by 11:59 p.m.

Late policy, -10% per day.   No submissions will be accepted after solutions have been posted (as soon as 2 days after submission). If you need additional time, please contact the TA in advance of the due date.

How to ask a question when not in class:

  • First, carefully reread this syllabus and any relevant assignment instructions to see if the answer to your question lies there.
  • If you can't find an answer to your question after rereading the syllabus and any relevant instructions, post your question in the Discussion Board (see link in the Course Navigation Menu on the left). Posting your question here means that it can be answered by any member of the instructional staff and that the question and its answer will be visible to other learners who may have the same question. You can expect responses to questions posted in the Community Forum by the next business day.
  • If you have a question or issue of a personal nature, please don't hesitate to contact me or the TA by email. We will try to respond within 24 hrs. 

On-line learning:

Because I was on sabbatical last year, this is my first time teaching on-line. There are thankfully many resources now available which my colleagues did not have last spring. Based on my research, it will help you if you have access to the following for this class. 

  • A way to scan your homework to a pdf
    • Genius Scan (recommended by Gradescope): Free
    • Scannable (recommended by Gradescope): Free
    • Scanner Pro $3.99 (I have used this in the past and like it.)  
    • Camscanner: Free (What I have had students use in the past that was free.)
  • A computer with 
    • a microphone/speaker or headphones with microphone functionality
    • webcam or using your phone as a webcam as a 2nd sign in to the class.  Video enables two functionalities
      • You can share calculations with classmates, me, and Alan and actually write in real time showing writing without needing an expensive device.
      • You can show your face during lectures so I and others more easily connect. I realize not everyone can do this due to bandwidth limitations, but if 50% can, this makes a HUGE difference for everyone. 
    • a second monitor or device. This is not necessary but will allow you to see video, expand my notes, take your own notes (if you are doing this digitally). Sometimes, an inexpensive 2nd monitor can be purchased at UW surplus.
    • If you don’t have access to a reliable computer, there is a UW student loan program:

Netiquette guidelines:

    • Be supportive and provide others with constructive feedback. Aspire to contribute posts that push past “I agree.” or “that isn’t correct.” Share why you agree or disagree. 
    • Share your knowledge. Learning happens when people share experiences, knowledge, and ideas.
    • Avoid using all lower-case letters or “texting” language. (ex. BRB, IMHO).
    • We’re not all online 24/7. Replies to your posts/questions may not be instantaneous.
    • Be mindful of word choice and tone. Written language can blur intent – even if you were trying to be funny, your post may not read as funny. Before posting, ensure your comments are clear and cannot be taken in the wrong context. Use emoticons (sparingly) to help express intent.


  • Messages of a personal nature should be emailed privately.


  • Harassment in any form is unacceptable and violates the university's student code of conduct This includes taking screenshots of other students or the instructor in a virtual environment without their consent.
  • Remember, we’re all human. Although you’re learning at a distance, your peers and instructor are still human and have feelings. If you wouldn’t make the comment in a face-to-face environment, don’t post it. 
  • Honor diversity and aspire to be inclusive. At UW, diversity and inclusion are core values and priorities. We accept and celebrate the differences that are represented through the many diverse and minoritized communities in our community. Be aware of and sensitive to the diversity of your classmates and instructors. Ensure your comments are inclusive to all participants.
  • Ask for help. Not sure if your post is appropriate? Ask another participant or your instructor to review it before you post.

If you feel that someone in this course is violating basic netiquette, please contact the instructor.

Diversity and Inclusion

I am committed to creating an inclusive environment in which all students are respected and valued. I will not tolerate disrespect or discrimination on the basis of age, ability, ethnicity, race, gender identity or expression, marital or parental status, military or veteran status, national origin, political affiliation, religious or spiritual beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or other visible or non-visible differences. We will endeavor to refer to each other by our preferred names and pronouns for instance, I am Professor Fu, or Kai-Mei (since this is a graduate-level class) and use she/her pronouns. 

Disability and Access:

Link to UW Disability and Access:

Your experience in this class is important to me. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have arranged accommodations through Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate those accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs and appropriate arrangements in this course. If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or.

Religious Accommodations:

Link to Religious Accommodations Policy:

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Academic Misconduct:

The University takes academic integrity very seriously. Behaving with integrity is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community. If you’re uncertain about if something is academic misconduct, ask me. Acts of academic misconduct may include but are not limited to: 

Cheating: Working together and exchanging ideas on problem sets is encouraged but copying solutions is cheating.

Plagiarism: Representing the work of others as your own without giving appropriate credit to

the original authors. This is relevant for the final presentations.

Students shall adhere to the University of Washington’s Student Code of Conduct

Concerns about behaviors prohibited by the Student Conduct Code will be referred for investigation and adjudication by the College of Engineering Dean’s Office and the University’s Office of Community Standards and Student conduct.

Section Type: 
Last updated: 
August 28, 2020 - 9:24pm