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Academic year
Didactic period
Secondo Semestre

Training objectives

The main aim of this course is to provide the basics of atomic physics, simple molecules, solid state, and radiation-matter interaction. At the end of the course the student will have learned the structure of multi-electron atoms, electronic and roto-vibrational states of the molecules and first elements of solid state physics. He will also have developed the skills needed to solve problems and deal with simple applications on the same topics.


Basic knowledge of Quantum Mechanics is recommended; moreover, passing the "Structure of Mater I" exam is a prerequisite for taking the examination of this course.

Course programme

Properties of atomic wavefunctions: quantum numbers, spatial probability (2 hours).
Stern-Gerlach experiment; electron spin; LS coupling; relativistic effects, Landè interval rule (2 hours). Lamb effect, iperfine structure; spontaneous emission; selection rules in a strong magnetic field; inversion operator, selection rules in the electric dipole approximation; spontaneous and stimulated emission, comparison with the black body radiation (Einstein model) (6 hours).
Multielectron atoms; fermions, simmetry of the wavefunctions, orthohelium and parahelium; Hartree model (4 hours). Ionization potential; X ray emission spectra, Moseley's rule; Auger effect (2 hours). Alkali atoms; atoms with two or more optical electrons; energy levels of the carbon atom; optical transitions and selection rules; Zeeman effect, Landè factor and Paschen-Bach effect in multielectron atoms (6 hours).
Molecules electronic structure, LCAO model; bonding and antibonding orbitals; diatomic molecules, covalent and dipolar bonding; polyatomic molecules (4 hours). Hybridization; conjugated molecules: optical properties (2 hours). Molecular excitations: rotations, vibrations; electronic and rotation-vibration combined transitions; Franck-Condon principle (4 hours). Atomic spectra; Raman scattering (2 hours). Heat capacity of a polyatomic gas (molecules), rotational and vibrational contributions (2 hours).
Reciprocal lattice; X-ray diffraction; Von Laue model (2 hours). Ewald sphere, experimental methods; structure and form factor, forbidden reflections (2 hours). Electrons in a periodic potential, Bloch theorem; electron wavevector, physical meaning (2 hours). Weak periodic potential, energy gap (2 hours). Electric conductivity in the band model; conductors, insulators and semiconductors (2 hours). Semiconductors: valence and conduction bands, holes (2 hours).

Didactic methods

Formal lectures and problem solving sessions.

Learning assessment procedures

The exam consists of a written test in which the level of ability reached in solving problems is verified and an oral exam in which the acquired knowledge is verified. The examination is divided in two tests, i.e. written and oral sessions. The written test consists in solving some problems concerning the program, and is fully passed with a score of 18 to 30. The use of communication tools of any kind or calculation tools is not allowed during the written test, with the exception of a normal numerical calculator. You cannot bring books or notes of any kind; only a single A4 sheet is allowed, on which each student will have written the data, formulas, notes that he considers useful, without restrictions other than those imposed by the available space. It is the student's responsibility to bring suitable writing instruments (pen, ruler, etc.). The interview will be held a few days after the written test and check the preparation of the student in dealing with the proposed topics. The final mark will take into account the overall preparation of the student resulting from the examinations (written and oral tests).

Reference texts

Some parts of the following books are used for teaching:
1)R.Eisberg, R.Resnick "Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei and Particles", 2nd Edition, J.Wiley & Sons, 1985 (Chapters 8,9,10)
2)Alonso-Finn "Quantum and statistical Physics" vol. 3, Addison-Wesley (Chapters 5,12)
3)C. Kittel "Introduction to Solid State Physics" VI Edizione, J. Wiley &Sons, 1986 (Chapters 2,5,6,7,8).

Moreover, lecture notes on specific topics are available on the Internet site of the course.