You are here

PHYS 518 A: Quantum Mechanics

Meeting Time: 
MWF 9:30am - 10:50am
* *
Stephen R. Sharpe

Syllabus Description:

Prof. Steve Sharpe (

MWF 9:30-10:50 PAB: Remote on zoom:

Office hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays 12:30-1:30pm:

TAs: Isaac Shelby ( and Kade Cicchella (

TA Office hours: Wednesdays 4-6pm,


Welcome to PHYS 518 (Winter 2020)! This is the second quarter of the year-long graduate QM sequence. For information about texts, homeworks, exams and grading see Course Information Phys 518 (which is also on the "Pages" link). HWs will be due on Wednesdays at 11:59pm, starting in the second week. There will be no lectures on the holidays on Mondays Jan. 18 and Feb. 15. There will be two midterms, on Fridays Feb. 5th and March 5th. The final exam time assigned to us is Wednesday, March 17th, 8:30-10:20am. If all students agree, I will change this to Tuesday, March 16th 10:30-12:30pm.

My aim this quarter is to cover Sakurai & Napolitano (SN) Chapters 3-5, with additional material included as needed. The general topics that I aim to  cover are listed below. Note that I will not follow SN's development or order precisely. 

  • Density matrices; mixed versus pure ensembles.
  • Rotations, and the groups SO(3) and SU(2).
  • Angular momentum in QM, including addition of angular momenta.
  • Tensor operators and the Wigner-Eckart theorem.
  • 3-d Schrodinger equation and application to the hydrogen atom, including Runge-Lenz vector.
  • Discrete symmeries: parity (recap from 517) and time-reversal.
  • Time-independent perturbation theory and applications to hydrogen-like atoms
  • Time-dependent perturbation theory and applications including Fermi's Golden rule
  • Adiabatic approximation and Berry phases.

The detailed lecture-by-lecture coverage will emerge as the quarter progresses. I plan to post detailed lecture notes before each lecture; these can be accessed from the daily links below.

Code of Conduct (excerpted from Physics Department Code of Conduct)

``Creating a supportive environment to foster academic and scientific progress and ensuring that all members of the department have access to a safe working and learning environment is a collective responsibility.  Should unprofessional or inappropriate actions or comments be observed or experienced, direct intervention calling attention to the problematic behavior is often the best response.  If that does not feel appropriate or safe, one should contact Physics Student Services, one’s supervisor, the Physics Ombud, and/or SafeCampus to help determine and effect an appropriate response.''

As appropriate, please feel free to bring up issues with me, either in person, by email, or via an anonymous  comment.

UW student code of conduct is here.

Religious Accommodations

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 Faculty Syllabus Guidelines and Resources. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations The request form is available here.

Catalog Description: 
Continuation of PHYS 517. Modern non-relativistic quantum mechanics. The character of the theory illustrated both with physical examples and with conceptual problems. Topics include: atomic structure, scattering processes, density operator description of mixed states, and measurement theory. Abstract operator methods emphasized in the exposition of angular momentum, scattering, and perturbation theory. Offered: W.
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
November 20, 2020 - 9:41pm