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Cours scientifique - PHY208 : Atoms and Lasers

Domaine > Physique.


Recommended previous course: PHY202
Light amplification by stimulated emission
of radiation (laser) holds a unique
place in the heart of physicists. Lasers
are at the same time a spectacular manifestation
of a quantum phenomenon, a
powerful and versatile tool ranging from
industrial applications (laser processing,
telemetry…) to fundamental research
(spectroscopy, cold atoms…) and a
remarkable workbench to acquire a better
understanding of key concepts in physics.
PHY 208 is an introduction to lightmatter
interactions through the intricate
relationship between atoms and lasers.
Importantly, this course will build on
experimental situations, and introduce
models with increasing complexity to
explain the observed results. As the basic
component of a laser is a source of light,
the course will start with basic spectroscopy,
and several atomic models will be
considered (Bohr model, Einstein coefficients,
Schrodinger model, etc.). The
emission of continuous laser light by
such atoms will be described from both
a classical (effective medium) and semiclassical
(population inversion) perspective.
The mirror will then be turned back
on the atoms, and several applications of
laser light revealing the behavior of atoms
will be discussed (Light, Stark and Zeeman
shift, Rabi oscillations etc.). Finally,
some practical perspectives on advanced
laser technologies and applications will be
This course will not add many new physical
concepts, but rather show how results
obtained in previous courses (especially
in optics, classical and quantum mechanics)
can be used. Upon completion of
this course, students will have acquired
key understandings concerning the bilateral
interactions between laser devices
and atoms. They will have understood the
circumstances under which the emission
of useful coherent light can be produced,
and also the information that such light
can provide when analyzing atomic systems.
They will also be able to identify the
relevance, necessity, and limitations that
classical and quantum models display
when analyzing problems in this field.
They will also gain familiarity with some
laser device technologies.

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