PHYS 610: Recent Developments in Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Information (Spring 2009)

Instructor: Daniel A. Steck
Office: 277 Willamette      Phone: 346-5313      email:
Office hours: walk in anytime I'm around, you know where to find me.
Course home page:
This is the primary web site for this course, where news, course notes, etc. will be posted.

Schedule: MWF 12:00-12:50, 318 Willamette
Course reference number: 36261
Credits: 4
Prerequisites: none.

Course overview

With the recent advances in the fields of atomic, molecular, and optical physics and condensed-matter physics, the study of quantum mechanics is entering a truly exciting era. For example, laser light can now be used to manipulate atoms with an unprecedented degree of control. This has resulted in a series of impressive achievements, including the ability to cool atoms to near-absolute-zero temperatures; the realization of dilute-gas Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC); the demonstration of numerous textbook quantum phenomena, including the quantum Zeno effect, entangled states of matter, and controlled studies of decoherence in open quantum systems; and substantial progress towards the realization of universal quantum-information processors and quantum many-body simulators.

The main focus of this course will be reviewing recent experimental developments, proposals, and research directions related to quantum mechanics and quantum information, spanning AMO and condensed-matter physics. However, the course content is flexible, according to the taste of everyone that registers; other options include reviewing recent theoretical advancements, techniques for numerical and computational analysis of quantum systems, and topics in mathematical physics.

Some examples of topics for this course include:

My intention is for this course to not require much time outside of the classroom, so this doesn't interfere with your research or other classes. Your primary workload will be to present 1 lecture on a topic of your choice, as a form of active learning at this advanced level. We will plan these in a relatively coordinated manner so I can provide background and context in my lectures relevant to your presentations. We will spend the first day of class working out the details of the presentations and topics, which will largely depend on who signs up for the class. The most important thing I want to emphasize now is that in the spirit of active learning, lectures and presentations should focus more on posing interesting questions for discussion, in class, rather than on raw transmission of information.

We will not be using a textbook, but rather primary sources as appropriate. I will post relevant primary sources on this web site.


Grades for the course will be assigned on a pass/no pass basis, based on in-class presentations and participation in discussion.


This schedule will be updated as the course progresses.

Monday Wednesday Friday
30 March
No Class: Qualifying Exams
1 April
Course Planning Discussion, Overview of the Field
3 April
More Overview
6 April
Fundamentals: Quantum States, the Density Operator
8 April
Tenure Meeting:
Class rescheduled for Wednesday, 6 May, 5-5:50 pm
Ion-trap physics
Reading: Blakestad 2009
10 April
Fundamentals: the Density Operator and Entanglement
13 April
Fundamentals: Master Equations
15 April
17 April
Bayesian View of Quantum Measurement
Reading: Fuchs 2001
20 April
Fundamentals: Two-Level Systems
22 April
Progressive Measurement of a Cavity State
Reading: Brune 1996, Bertet 2001.
24 April
Measurement and Decoherence in Atom Interferometry
Hayden McGuinness
Reading: Chapman 1995, Kokorowski 2001
27 April
Quasicontinuous QND measurement of photon number
Ellery Ames
Reading: Gleyzes 2007
29 April
Learning Control of Molecules
Yonatan Schultz
Reading: Levis 2001
1 May
Travel to Stanford:
Class rescheduled for Monday, 11 May, 2-2:50 pm
Coherence and Qubits in Biological Molecules
Ali Almaqwashi
Reading: Nelayev 2009
4 May
Adaptive Measurements
Paul Martin
Reading: web overview, Armen 2002
6 May
Quantum Coherent Feedback Control
Jonathan Mackrory
Reading: Mabuchi 2008
8 May
Quantum Networking and Cavity QED
Andrew Golter
Reading: Boozer 2007
11 May
Neutral Atoms in Optical Lattices
Eryn Cook
Reading: Daley 2008
13 May
Travel to Boston:
Class rescheduled for Monday, 18 May, 2-2:50 pm
Topological Quantum Computing
Ryan Quitzow-James
Reading: Das Sarma 2006
15 May
Travel to NWAPS meeting:
Class rescheduled for Wednesday, 27 May, 5-5:50 pm
Verification of photon W-states
Megan Ray
Reading: Lougovski 2009
18 May
Geometric Phases in Optics
Cody Leary
Reading: Tomita 1986, Galvez 2003
20 May
Travel to DAMOP:
Class rescheduled for Monday, 1 June, 2-2:50 pm
Conductance Fluctuations in Quantum Dots
Rick Montgomery
Reading: Marlow 2006
22 May
Travel to DAMOP:
Class rescheduled for Wednesday, 3 June, 5-5:50 pm
Towards Quantum Effects in Nanomechanics
Mike Taormina
Reading: Naik 2006
25 May
No Class: Memorial Day
27 May
Shor's Algorithm
Tom Baldwin
Reading: Vandersypen 2001
29 May
Entanglement Verification for Photons
Dash Vitullo
Reading: van Enk 2007
1 June
Entanglement of Atoms in Optical Lattices
Lucia Schwarz
Reading: Mandel 2003
3 June
Quantum Chaos and Fidelity
Aaron Webster
Reading: Cucchietti 2003
5 June
Atom lasers
Nik Strohfeldt
Reading: Bloch 2000

List of Presentations (Chronological)

1. Measurement and decoherence:
Dan: Progressive measurment of a cavity state in cavity QED, 22 April
Hayden: Measurement and decoherence in atom interferometry, 24 April
Ellery: Quasicontinuous QND measurement of photon number in cavity QED, 27 April

2. Quantum feedback control:
Yonatan: Learning control of molecules, April 29
Paul: Adaptive phase measurements, May 4
Jonathan: Coherent quantum feedback control, May 6

3. Qubits, stationary and flying:
Dan: Ion-trap physics, May 6 (5-5:50)
Andrew: Quantum communication and cavity QED, May 8
Eryn: Neutral atoms in optical lattices, May 11
Ali: Coherence and qubits in biological molecules, May 11 (2-2:50)

4. Algorithms and novel approaches in quantum info:
Cody: Geometric phases in optics, May 18
Ryan: Topological quantum computing, May 18 (2-2:50)
Tom: Shor's algorithm, May 27

5. Entanglement:
Megan: W-states, May 27 (5-5:50)
Dash: Entanglement verification, photon experiments, May 29
Lucia: Entanglement of neutral atoms in optical lattices, June 1

6. Quantum coherence and dynamics:
Rick: Conductance fluctuations in quantum dots, June 1 (2-2:50)
Aaron: Fidelity and quantum chaos, June 3
Mike: Towards quantum effects in nanomechanics, June 3 (5-5:50)
Nik: Atom lasers, June 5

Makeup days: May 6 (W 5-5:50), May 11 (M 2-2:50), May 18 (M 2-2:50), May 27 (W 5-5:50), June 1 (M 2-2:50), June 3 (W 5-5:50)

Other important dates:
Last day to drop classes without a “W”: 6 April
Last day to add/drop classes: 8 April
Last day to withdraw from classes: 17 May