Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Atomic and Optical Physics: Optical Bloch Equations and Open System Dynamics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX

This course may be unavailable.


This physics course presents a general derivation of the master equation and the optical Bloch equations. You will learn about various solutions of the optical Bloch equations, and you will discuss the quantum Monte Carlo wavefunction approach. The course will conclude with a discussion of unraveling open system quantum dynamics.

This course is a part of a series of courses to introduce concepts and current frontiers of atomic physics, and to prepare you for cutting-edge research:

  • 8.422.1x: Quantum states and dynamics of photons
  • 8.422.2x: Atom-photon interactions
  • 8.422.3x: Optical Bloch equations and open system dynamics
  • 8.422.4x: Light forces and laser cooling
  • 8.422.5x: Ultracold atoms and ions for many-body physics and quantum information science

At MIT, the content of the five courses makes the second of a two-semester sequence (8.421 and 8.422) for graduate students interested in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics. This sequence is required for Ph.D. students doing research in this field.

Completing the series allows you to pursue advanced study and research in cold atoms, as well as specialized topics in condensed matter physics. In these five courses you will learn about the following topics:

  • quantum states and dynamics of photons
  • photon-atom interactions: basics and semiclassical approximations
  • open system dynamics
  • optical Bloch equations
  • applications and limits of the optical Bloch equations
  • dressed atoms
  • light force
  • laser cooling
  • cold atoms
  • evaporative cooling
  • Bose-Einstein condensationquantum algorithms and protocols
  • ion traps and magnetic traps.

Taught by

Wolfgang Ketterle, David E. Pritchard and Isaac Chuang


Start your review of Atomic and Optical Physics: Optical Bloch Equations and Open System Dynamics

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.