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Unit information: Quantum Light and Matter in 2020/21

Unit name Quantum Light and Matter
Unit code PHYSM0042
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Turner
Open unit status Not open



Quantum Information Theory

School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


Quantum optics aims to describe the behaviour of light, including its interaction with matter, in a quantum mechanical way. It is one of the best-tested and most accurate physical theories available to us. As a core Quantum Engineering unit, this course will also lean heavily towards modelling concepts, as well as finding applications, that arise in quantum information theory.

The following topics will be covered: review of classical electromagnetism; quantisation of the electromagnetic field; quantum coherence; quantum statistics; light-matter interactions; production, detection and characterisation of quantum states of light; photonics.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course students should:

  • Be able to distinguish between classical and quantum descriptions of optical phenomena.
  • Be able to explain key experiments and the use of key theoretical tools in the field.
  • Be able to explain how the physics of photons plays out in the quantum information context.
  • Be able to give quantum optical models for various concepts from quantum information science.

Transferrable skills include:

  • The ability to solve demanding technical problems.
  • The ability to connect abstract concepts with physical systems.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • synchronous group problems classes, workshops, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative exercises and other exercises
  • guided, structured reading

Assessment Details

Formative assessment can include in-class questions and quizzes.

Summative assessment will be a written, timed, open-book examination.

Reading and References

R. Louden, The Quantum Theory of Light, Oxford University Press, 2000.

U. Leonhardt, Essential Quantum Optics, Cambridge University Press 2010.

M. Fox, Quantum Optics An Introduction, Oxford University Press 2006.

Any material specified by the instructor.