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PHY2020 : Principles of Quantum Mechanics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Nikolaos Proukakis
  • Owning School: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To discuss mathematically the wave theory of matter by analysing the Schrodinger equation and introduce basic operator algebra and quantum-mechanical postulates.

Module Summary

Quantum mechanics is the theoretical framework used to describe the most fundamental properties of matter. It has a rich mathematical structure and it has provided the impetus for many advances in mathematics. It also has many practical applications, including the modelling of atoms, molecules and semiconductors. Recently, quantum theory has been used extensively to model superfluids and supercooled gases, and there are even attempts to build computers which function by the laws of quantum mechanics.

This module discusses the wave formulation of quantum mechanics in the context of the one-dimensional Schrodinger equation, which is mathematically solved in various trapped problems, including box and quadratic potentials, with examples including open-boundary cases. The course introduces the more mathematical aspects of quantum mechanics including its formal structure based on the fundamental postulates, and the role and importance of operator algebra in describing such systems. Simple extensions to three dimensions (e.g. a brief discussion of relevant quantum numbers) are also briefly touched upon at the very end, in a non-examinable manner.

Outline Of Syllabus

Reminder of Preliminary concepts: de Broglie and Planck relations and the uncertainty principle; brief introduction to distribution functions. Schrodinger's equation and its solutions in an infinite- and finite-height box and in a harmonic oscillator potential; the correspondence principle and superposition states. The formal rules of quantum mechanics: basic postulates, operator algebra; the harmonic oscillator revisited: raising and lowering operators. Open boundary problems, reflection and transmission coefficients. Basic introduction to the 3D Schrodinger equation.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Example classes in which typical questions are solved
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Formal Lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Revision Lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion321:0032:00Completion of in course assignments/ examination revision
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study361:0036:00Preparation time for lectures, background reading, coursework review
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work.

The teaching methods are appropriate to allow students to develop a wide range of skills, from understanding basic concepts and facts to higher-order thinking.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A80N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises1M5Problem-solving exercises assessment
Prob solv exercises1M5Problem-solving exercises assessment
Prob solv exercises1M5Problem-solving exercises assessment
Prob solv exercises1M5Problem-solving exercises assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A substantial formal unseen examination is appropriate for the assessment of the material in this module. The format of the examination will enable students to reliably demonstrate their own knowledge, understanding and application of learning outcomes. The assurance of academic integrity forms a necessary part of programme accreditation.

Examination problems may require a synthesis of concepts and strategies from different sections, while they may have more than one ways for solution. The examination time allows the students to test different strategies, work out examples and gather evidence for deciding on an effective strategy, while carefully articulating their ideas and explicitly citing the theory they are using.

The coursework assignments allow the students to develop their problem solving techniques, to practise the methods learnt in the module, to assess their progress and to receive feedback; these assessments have a secondary formative purpose as well as their primary summative purpose.

Reading Lists