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PHYS 518 A: Quantum Mechanics

Meeting Time: 
MWF 9:30am - 10:50am
PAA A114
Stephen R. Sharpe

Syllabus Description:

Prof. Steve Sharpe (

MWF 9:30-10:50 PAB A114 (First four weeks and the fifth week of classes via zoom: )

Office hours: Tuesday 1-2. In person (in my office, B406-moving to the conference room across the corridor if several of you come) and (if you prefer) by zoom (Join URL Also, the last 20 minutes of each lecture will be reserved for office hours (accessible by zoom if the classes are remote).

TAs: Isaac Shelby ( & Zeeshawn Kazi (

TA Office hours: Monday 5-6, Tuesday 3:30-4:30, 2nd floor lounge

Welcome to PHYS 518 (Winter 2022)! 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). I have tweaked the relative weights slightly compared to 517. 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. 17 and Feb. 21. There will be two midterms, tentatively on Mondays Feb. 7th and 28th. The final exam time assigned to us is Wednesday, March 16th, 8:30-10:20am. If all students agree, I will change this to Monday, March 14th 10:30-12:30pm.

Last year's lectures are recorded (see links in calendar below). Based on your feedback, and my impressions, I will use the lecture time as follows: I will begin with a 15-20 minute summary, after which I will provide one or more problems/exercises. I will give you time (15-30 mins) to work on these (individually or in groups, as you wish), during which time you can ask me questions, or for clarifications, after which I will work through the solutions with your input. I will provide written versions of the summary and the solutions, after the class. My aim is to build up to problems of the type that will appear on the exams.

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 symmetries: 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 will post detailed lecture notes before each lecture; these can be accessed from the daily links below.

Covid-19 Safety Measures (for more information see FaceCoveringS21FINAL4.pdf)

It is important for all of us to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19. An important part of working to keep our community safe is the University of Washington COVID-19 Face Covering Policy. This policy requires all members of the UW community to wear a face covering when in the classroom or indoors space, regardless of vaccination status. The UW encourages all students to take responsibility for following public health guidelines, being aware of COVID-19 information and steps for minimizing the spread of the virus. You can support the Husky Experience by wearing a mask and by getting vaccinated, if you haven’t already. Don’t forget to attest to your vaccination status. Eating and drinking will not be permitted in class. For those who choose not to wear face coverings please talk with your academic advisor about possible distance learning options for taking classes at UW. Further information on COVID-19 practices and resources can be found here. 


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: 
October 16, 2021 - 1:52am