Atomic physics

Course Code:B21005Y-A02

Course Name: Atomic Physics       

Credits: 4.0

Level: Undergraduate

Pre-requisite: Advanced Mathematics, Mechanics, Electromagnetics, Optics

Lecture Time: 36 sessions, 2 hours/session

Course Description

Atomic physics is a course which explores the basic structure and interaction of matter. This course focuses on the structure of atoms and explores the basic problems at the level of atomic and nuclear matter. Students are required to understand the main difficulties classical physics (should this be physicists? Seems like it should be the people and not the subject) encountered in the field of atomic research, and some new analytic methods and research ideas introduced to solve these difficulties. Students are also required to master the basic atom structure, atomic energy spectrum and basic rules of spectrum, some of the basic concepts of atoms (including quantum states, electron spin and the Pauli principle etc.) and the nature of the nucleus and the basic law of the nuclear reaction.

1. Enable students to establish the physical image of the micro world, grasp the structure and movement rules of atoms, atomic nucleus, and understand relative knowledge of particle physics. Through the study of this course, students should lay a solid foundation to learn quantum mechanics, solid state physics, modern physics experiments and other courses in the future.

2. Student should master the basic methods of dealing with atomic physics problems, learn how to build physical models starting with analyzing experimental results, and then establish theoretical system of physics and improve the ability to analyze and solve problems.

3. Enable students to understand some cutting-edge topics of developing subjects. Guide students to be willing to think and explore. Cultivate good scientific quality and world outlook of dialectical materialism (not sure what “of them” would mean here).

Topics and Schedule

1.Nuclear Model of Atoms (6 hrs)

The discovery of atoms; the discovery of electrons and nuclei; Rutherford Model and Rutherford scattering; the significance and difficulties of the atomic planet model.

2.  Bohr's Theory of Hydrogen Atom (8 hrs)

The hydrogen atom spectrum; Franck-Hertz experiment; Bohr's theory of hydrogen atom; success and limitations of Bohr's theory.

3.  Preliminary Quantum Mechanics (8 hrs)

Quantization of energy; introduction of photon and photoelectric effect; matter wave and wave-particle duality; Schrodinger equation; probability wave and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle; quantum mechanics interpretation of hydrogen atomic spectrum.

4.   Spin of Electrons in Atom (10 hrs)

Magnetic moment of electron orbital motion; stern-Gerlach experiment;  hypothesis of electron spin; fine structure of atomic spectra: alkali metal double line; Zeeman effect, Stark effect.

5.   Multi Electron Atom (10 hrs)

Spectrum and energy of helium atom; two electron coupling; Pauli principle; Periodic Table of Elements.

6. X-ray and Laser (10 hrs)

Discovery of X-ray and its wave property; generation mechanism of X-ray; Compton scattering; absorption and application of X-ray.

7.  Preliminary Nuclear Physics (8 hrs)
Nuclear radiation (alpha, beta, gamma ray); radiation detection; nuclear structure; nuclear reactions: fission and fusion; application of nuclear physics.

8.  Introduction of Elementary Particle Physics (6 hrs)

Hadrons and leptons; meson and baryon; quark; four basic interactions; matter and antimatter; particle accelerators and detectors.


Daily performance: 25%

midterm test: 25%

Final examination: 50%

Exercise class requirements

Exercise classes will give priority to discussions supplemented by answering questions; Arrange one or two sessions each month to discuss topics such as atoms, spins, lasers, X-rays, and high energy accelerators, etc. So students are needed to preview the relative content. If students want to ask questions, they should send the issues to the assistant one week ahead.


Fu-Jia Yang,  Atomic Physics (Fourth Edition), Higher Education Press, 2008.

[1] Atomic Physics (I), Interaction Between Electromagnetic Radiation and Atom, [France] B. Cagnac, Wan-Yu Zhang, J-C.Pebay-Peyroula, Yi-Qiu Wang (Translator), Science Publishing Company, 2015;

[2] Atomic Physics (II), Atom: a kind of Quantum Component, [France] B. Cagnac, Wan-Yu Zhang, J-C.Pebay-Peyroula, Yi-Qiu Wang (Translator), Science Publishing Company, 2015;

[3] Atomic Physics (First Edition). Sheng-LinZhu, Higher Education Press, 2006.