Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Quantum Optics

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This is an advanced study-unit on quantum optics. It aims to build upon the previous unit and finish off and develop the understanding necessary to treat the dynamics of more complicated quantum systems, including the effects of coupling to a hot environment. Particular attention will be placed on coupled quantum systems, providing a bridge between the idealised quantum mechanical systems explored earlier and experimental realities.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit will endow the students with a more comprehensive knowledge of complex quantum systems, including ones of much relevance to ongoing research. It distinguishes itself from more basic quantum mechanics units through an introduction and discussion of Fock, coherent, and squeezed states of light, quasi-probability distributions, and the use of tensor product spaces to describe quantum systems consisting of more than one component.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe the process of quantisation of the electromagnetic field;
- explain the analogy between the quantum harmonic oscillator and the light field inside a cavity;
- describe the uses and main properties of Fock, coherent, and squeezed states;
- explain how the tensor product can describe composite quantum systems;
- explain what quantum correlations between two or more quantum objects are;
- describe the concept of Wigner functions for continuous-variable quantum systems;
- describe what a quantum-optical Gaussian state is;
- explain why a full quantum treatment is required to observe spontaneous emission.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- quantise the electromagnetic field inside a cavity;
- derive the input--output relations for a leaky cavity field;
- calculate the Wigner function for basic quantum-optical states, such as squeezed states;
- numerically explore entanglement for composite Gaussian states;
- calculate the evolution of an atom interacting with a quantised electromagnetic field using the Jaynes--Cummings model;
- demonstrate that an excited atom in the electromagnetic vacuum will spontaneously emit.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts
- D. F. Walls and G. J. Milburn, "Quantum Optics," 2nd ed. (2008)

Supplementary texts
- C. W. Gardiner and P. Zoller, "Quantum Noise," 3rd ed. (2004)


ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite qualifications: A knowledge of quantum mechanics, calculus, and linear algebra


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Project SEM1 Yes 20%
Oral Examination SEM1 Yes 80%

LECTURER/S Andre Xuereb

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.