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Online Course

The Quantum World

Harvard University via edX


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Welcome to The Quantum World!

This course is an introduction to quantum chemistry: the application of quantum theory to atoms, molecules, and materials. You’ll learn about wavefunctions, probability, special notations, and approximations that make quantum mechanics easier to apply. You’ll also learn how to use Python to program quantum-mechanical models of atoms and molecules.

This course has serious prerequisites. You will need to be comfortable with college-level chemistry and calculus. Some prior programming experience is also encouraged.

The Quantum World is ideal for:

  • Chemistry majors who want extra material alongside an on-campus course
  • Chemistry majors at an institution that does not offer quantum chemistry
  • Physics or CompSci majors who want to branch out to chemistry
  • Graduate students refreshing on quantum mechanics before their qualifying exams
  • Professional chemists who want to brush up on their skills


Month 1: Intro to Quantum Mechanics
A quick review of classical mechanics and wave mechanics, plus the postulates that form the basis of quantum theory.

Month 2: Schrödinger in Many Dimensions
The Schrödinger equation in one, two, and three dimensions, plus the use of the Finite Difference Method that makes computational quantum chemistry possible.

Month 3: Applications and Phase Space
Infrared spectroscopy, chemical reactions, molecular rotation, and the proper use of phase space.

Month 4: Atoms
Solving the hydrogen atom, approximating many-electron atoms.

Month 5: Molecules and Light
An in-depth look at diatomic molecules, and the interaction of atoms with light.

Month 6: Variation and Perturbation
The variational principle, the Hartree-Fock method, self-consistent field theory, and perturbation theory.

Taught by

Dr. Alán Aspuru-Guzik and Dr. Colin Fredericks

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Reviews for edX's The Quantum World Based on 2 reviews

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Anonymous completed this course.
Quantum World spans many facets of QM and chemistry in a fairly quick pace.

The instructor introduces a large number of Quantum Mechanic and modeling

subjects. For example, he uses the Hydrogen atom models extensively

without having a from scratch derivation of spherical harmonics etc. This

is a nice approach that gets to higher level concepts.

The Python part is fun and relatively easy. The Datacamp framework worked

well. I used offline Anaconda to build and debug, then plugged it into Datacamp.

The Python library integration needs to be carefully done to use this method.

I learned a lot on a wide range of molecular and atomic models.

Alain is a wonderful and enthusiastic instructor.

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Sampath K
Sampath completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This is a lucid introduction without the jargon and complexity of quantum physics to the usually weird and confusing subject. Starting with a simple if startling introduction to the atom and fundamental particles, it covers the essentials of Quantum physics elegantly. Hats off to the professor.
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