Course Overview

Course Description

This course gives an overview of selected physics discoveries and focuses on several major unanswered questions in physics. Topics include the discovery of elementary particles and the Standard Model, dark matter and dark energy, superfluidity and superconductivity, control of ultracold matter, atomic clocks, and quantum information.

Prerequisites: PHYS 309

Recommended reading

There is no course textbook. Recommended reading will be listed in advance of the lectures on the course web site. Additional reading links will be listed, including more advanced material. Direct access links to journal articles should work while using UD network. When accessing journal articles off campus, access specific journal through UD library webpage (login required).

Instructor Information

Research Fields
Theoretical Atomic Physics and Quantum Information
Marianna Safronova's Research web site

Instructor's travel
February 21 - 24, International Workshop on Ultra-cold Group II atoms, invited talk, Paris, France
March 1 - 6, Rydberg Atoms for Quantum Technologies symposium, invited talk, Okinawa, Japan
March 21 -22, National Science Foundation, Washington, DC

Course Requirements

There will be two projects during the course. If you would like to select a topic for Project #2 which is not on the list, e-mail to by April 28 for instructor's approval. Click on the link more information: Project #1 and Project #2.

List of questions and sometimes problems will be given most Thursdays. You do not have to turn it in and it will not be graded.

There will be a quiz most Thursdays (a week after homework is given unless noted otherwise - see schedule). One or two questions/problems from the current homework will be on the quiz.

There will be two midterms, on March 3 and April 5 during regular class hours. The midterms will only contain questions/problems from the homeworks.

Course Policies & Grading

Course Policies

Late assignments
Only excused absences are eligible for submitting project papers late. If you miss a quiz or are unable to submit paper on time due to an excused absence you have to notify me by e-mail as soon as possible. If you anticipate a conflict ahead of time, then you should let me know in advance that you will or may be absent.  University policies ( ) outline the criteria for an excused absence.

Academic Honesty
Student Guide to University Policies: Code of Student Conduct

Quizzes and Midterm Grading Policy
Unless noted otherwise, problems and questions are graded on the 3 point scale described below. Some longer questions/problems may be assigned double points as noted.

3 points
The question is answered correctly.
Problem is solved correctly and correct answer is obtained.
2 points
The question is mostly answered correctly, but some mistake is made or answer is incomplete.
Substantial portion of the solution, which is in the direction of the correct answer is given or complete (in principle correct) solution is given but some mistake is made which lead to incorrect answer.
1 point
Some attempt to answer the question is demonstrated.
An attempt to solve problem has been made and an understanding of how such problem may be solved is demonstrated (some work in the direction of the correct solution is present).
0 points
No answer to question is provides or answer is incorrect.
No solution is provided or no understanding of how such problem may be solved is demonstrated.

Course Grade

Your final grade for Physics 311 will be based on your total score for quizzes, two projects, and midterms. The grade is determined as follows:
Percentage Assigned
Midterm 1
Midterm 2
Project 1
Project 2

Rough guidelines for letter grade ranges are listed below.

93 - 100
90 - 92
87 - 89
83 - 86
80 - 82
75 - 79
70 - 74
65 - 69
60 - 64
56 - 59
51 - 55
< 50