Lecture Notes

Physics 3317 is a Junior level quantum mechanics course at Cornell. After two years of studying physics (including Quantum Mechanics in PHYS 3316), you have an excellent foundation, and are ready to start applying your knowledge. In this course you will be solving real quantum mechanics problems. Yes I mean real. The material in this course is structured a bit differently than most of the physics courses you have seen so far. Up until now you have been climbing a hill. In this course you are on top of the hill. You have learned the canonical toy models (harmonic oscillator, etc..) now you can turn to modeling the real world. You know enough now to go shoulder-to-shoulder with Pauli and Dirac. One thing you quickly realize when you are on top of the hill is that nothing is simple. If you want to explain how a transistor works, then you are not going to be able to write down a closed form microscopic wavefunction for the gazzillions of electrons in the device. Instead, you have to work smarter. You need to use dimensional analysis. You need to argue by analogy. You need to run computer simulations. You need to use symmetry arguments. You need to cheat. This course will help you develop those skills, and apply them. I think that this is the course that when you complete it you are a physicist. I don't care if your major is physics, or mathematics, or psychology. After this course you are a physicist. This is what a physics education is all about. The skills you develop here are going to be useful in your future -- no matter if you are going into academia or the workforce.