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Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers

Stanford University via Stanford OpenEdx

4 Reviews 2108 students interested

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This course aims to teach quantum mechanics to anyone with a reasonable college-level understanding of physical science or engineering. Quantum mechanics was once mostly of interest to physicists, chemists and other basic scientists. Now the concepts and techniques of quantum mechanics are essential in many areas of engineering and science such as materials science, nanotechnology, electronic devices, and photonics. This course is a substantial introduction to quantum mechanics and how to use it. It is specifically designed to be accessible not only to physicists but also to students and technical professionals over a wide range of science and engineering backgrounds.

The course is approximately at the level of a first quantum mechanics class in physics at a third-year college level or above, but it is specifically designed to be suitable and useful also for those from other science and engineering disciplines.

The course emphasizes conceptual understanding rather than a heavily mathematical approach, but some amount of mathematics is essential for understanding and using quantum mechanics. The course presumes a mathematics background that includes basic algebra and trigonometry, functions, vectors, matrices, complex numbers, ordinary differential and integral calculus, and ordinary and partial differential equations.

In physics, students should understand elementary classical mechanics (Newton’s Laws) and basic ideas in electricity and magnetism at a level typical of first-year college physics. (The course explicitly does not require knowledge of more advanced concepts in classical mechanics, such as Hamiltonian or Lagrangian approaches, or in electromagnetism, such as Maxwell’s equations.) Some introductory exposure to modern physics, such as the ideas of electrons, photons, and atoms, is helpful but not required.

The course will include “refresher” resources for the required mathematics and physics background.


Introduction to quantum mechanics

How quantum mechanics is important in the everyday world, the bizarre aspects and continuing evolution of quantum mechanics, and how we need it for engineering much of modern technology.


Schroedinger’s wave equation

Getting to Schroedinger’s wave equation. Key ideas in using quantum mechanical waves — probability densities, linearity. The "two slit" experiment and its paradoxes.


Getting "quantum" behavior

The "particle in a box", eigenvalues and eigenfunctions. Mathematics of quantum mechanical waves.


Quantum mechanics of systems that change in time

Time variation by superposition of wave functions. The harmonic oscillator. Movement in quantum mechanics — wave packets, group velocity and particle current.


Measurement in quantum mechanics

Operators in quantum mechanics — the quantum-mechanical Hamiltonian. Measurement and its paradoxes — the Stern-Gerlach experiment.


Writing down quantum mechanics simply

A simple general way of looking at the mathematics of quantum mechanics — functions, operators, matrices and Dirac notation. Operators and measurable quantities. The uncertainty principle.


The hydrogen atom

Angular momentum in quantum mechanics — atomic orbitals. Quantum mechanics with more than one particle. Solving for the the hydrogen atom. Nature of the states of atoms.


How to solve real problems

Approximation methods in quantum mechanics.

Taught by

David Miller


Reviews for Stanford OpenEdx's Quantum Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers
5.0 Based on 4 reviews

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Louis G
5.0 4 years ago
Louis completed this course.
What a great resource! Prof. Miller's explanation of the density matrix and derivation of the Bloch equations was extremely useful in the graduate level quantum mechanics course I am currently taking. After taking Prof. Miller's QMSE 1&2, I find the graduate level course quite manageable. Thank you Professor for giving me such a firm foundation for more advanced studies.
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Aditya P
5.0 a year ago
Aditya is taking this course right now, spending 7 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
Professor Miller is awesome. He has an obvious passion for the subject.

The course is taught in more-or-less the standard fashion, starting with Planck and Einstein, the wave equation, etc. Professor Scott Aaronson comments about this approach: "Today, in the quantum information age, the fact that all the physicists had to learn quantum this way seems increasingly humorous." He thinks it's better to teach it as a generalization of probability theory first, and I have some sympathy with this viewpoint.

Nonetheless, this course gives a solid grounding in the physics, which I imagine would be useful for anyone going on to learn more physics. I found some aspects quite difficult to grasp (e.g., visualizing spherical harmonics, or deriving the L^2 operator eigenfunctions), but by that point in the course the fundamentals had come through, and I'm quite grateful for that.
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Tonolmo T
5.0 4 years ago
by Tonolmo completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
2 people found
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Kareem H
5.0 2 years ago
by Kareem completed this course.
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