Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions: Quantum Mechanics

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Fall 2017, Winter 2018, and Spring 2018 quarters

Taught by

physical chemistry


Students must have successfully completed one year of college-level general chemistry with laboratory and one year of college calculus (differential and integral).

The full-time program Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions covers quantum mechanics, inorganic chemistry (in fall and winter), and thermodynamics (in winter and spring), all at the upper-division science level. Each of these subjects is available to students as an individual component by taking the variable credit option within Atoms, Molecules, and Reactions.

In the fall quarter of the quantum mechanics component, topics will include history and origins of quantum theory, wave-particle duality of light, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, operators, the Schrödinger equation, particle in a box, harmonic oscillator, rigid rotor, hydrogen-like atoms, angular momenta, Zeeman effect, variation method, multi-electron atoms, and application of the Pauli exclusion principle.

In winter, we will extend our studies to learn Slater determinants, Hartree-Fock self-consistent field method, atomic term symbols, spin-orbit coupling, atomic spectra, Born-Oppenheimer approximation, application of quantum mechanics to diatomics, potential energy diagrams, confocal elliptic coordinates, molecular term symbols, hybridization model, Hückel molecular orbital  theory, rotational spectroscopy, vibrational spectroscopy, vibration-rotation spectra of diatomics, and an introduction to Raman spectroscopy.

In spring, we will conclude our exploration in quantum mechanics with electronic spectroscopy, the Franck-Condon principle, fluorescence, phosphorescence, and lasers. Students will analyze the vibration-rotation spectrum of the HBr molecule and the visible spectrum of iodine to obtain molecular parameters and present them in two formal lab reports to demonstrate their ability to extract atomic and molecular parameters from the spectra.

Program Details

Fields of Study

chemistry physics

Preparatory For

chemistry, physics, science education, and environmental science.



Fall Signature Winter Signature Spring Closed

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning