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Ultra Cold Quantum Gases 1

Module PH2124

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2017/8 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

available module versions
WS 2017/8SS 2011

Basic Information

PH2124 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 45 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2124 is Stephan Dürr.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


I. Atom-Light Interactions
   1. Two-level atom
   2. Density matrix
   3. Bloch sphere
   4. Spontaneous emission
   5. Rate equations
   6. Laser
II. Cooling and Trapping
   7. Light forces
   8. Cooling of atomic gases by laser light
   9. Magnetic trapping
 10. Evaporative cooling
III. BEC in the Ideal Gas
 11. Bose-Einstein condensation

The module will be supplemented by the module "Ultracold Quantum Gases 2" (PH2125) in the next semester.

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the module the students are able to:

  • understand various models of the atom-light interaction and can apply them in different contexts
  • analyze the limitations of important techniques for cooling and trapping of ultracold gases
  • understand the basics of Bose-Einstein condensation


Basic knowledge in quantum mechanics (PH0007), atomic physics (PH0016), electrodynamics (PH0006), and statistical physics (PH0008)

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Ultra Cold Quantum Gases 1 Dürr, S. Thu, 12:30–14:00, PH 2271
UE 1 Exercise to Ultra Cold Quantum Gases 1 Schmidt, S.
Responsible/Coordination: Dürr, S.
Fri, 10:00–11:30, PH-Cont. C.3203
and singular or moved dates

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module consists of a lecture and exercise classes. In the thematically structured lecture the learning content is presented. With cross references between different topics, the concepts relevant for the covered topics are explained. In scientific discussions the students are involved to stimulate their analytic intellectual strength. Self-study of textbooks, review articles, and original literature, as e.g. referenced in the lectures notes provided, is an important part of the student’s learning process.

In the exercises the learning content is deepened using problem examples. Thus the students are able to apply and explain the learned physics knowledge independently.


Blackboard, lecture notes, exercise sheets


  • C.J. Pethick & H. Smith: Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases, Cambridge University Press, (2008)
  • L. Pitaevskii & S. Stringari: Bose-Einstein Condensation, Clarendon Press, (2003)
  • H.J. Metcalf & P. van der Straten: Laser Cooling and Trapping, Springer, (1999)
  • C. Cohen-Tannoudji, J. Dupont-Roc & G. Grynberg: Atom-Photon Interactions, Wiley-VCH, (1998)

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 25 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • How does the temperature limit of Doppler cooling come about?
  • How does a magneto-optical trap work?
  • Why are Majorana spin-flips a problem in magnetic traps and how can they be avoided?

Participation in the exercise classes is strongly recommended since the exercises prepare for the problems of the exam and rehearse the specific competencies.

Remarks on associated module exams

The exam for this module can be taken together with the exam to the associated follow-up module PH2125: Ultra Cold Quantum Gases 2 / Ultrakalte Quantengase 2 after the follwoing semester. In this case you need to register for both exams in the following semester.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester. There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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