Course Identification

Atom-photon interaction

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Prof. Ofer Firstenberg, Prof. Nir Davidson
Boaz Raz, Dr. Lee Drori, Dr. Omri Davidson, Dr. Hagai Edri, Dr. Ran Finkelstein

Course Schedule and Location

Second Semester
Sunday, 14:15 - 16:00, Weissman, Auditorium
Wednesday, 11:15 - 13:00, Weissman, Auditorium

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Physical Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Regular; 4.00 points
Chemical Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Regular; 4.00 points
Chemical Sciences (Materials Science Track): Lecture; Elective; Regular; 4.00 points


Will be taught via Zoom starting April 19th.
Please note special schedule *





Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Required in at least 80% of the lectures

Grade Type

Numerical (out of 100)

Grade Breakdown (in %)


Evaluation Type

Take-home exam

Scheduled date 1


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



  1. Introduction
  2. Review and background
    • Atomic spectroscopy
    • Semi-classical description of a two-level atom in a laser field
    • Dressed states
  3. Second quantization of the electromagnetic field
    • Coupling to vacuum
    • Spontaneous emission, Fluorescence spectroscopy
  4. Open systems
    • Non-Hermitian dynamics
    • Quantum jumps and the Monte Carlo wave-function method
  5. Interaction of light and 2-level atoms
    • Light propagation in resonant media
    • Bloch-Maxwell equations
    • Decoherence and dephasing
    • Spectroscopy: Rabi, Ramsey, echo, Doppler-free
  6. Multi-level atoms
    • Adiabatic transfer
    • Dark state, slow light, and atom-photon polaritons
    • Atom-atom interactions, Rydberg atoms, cooperative behavior
  7. Motional broadening and narrowing
  8. Principles of laser operation
    • Rate equations, power in laser operation
    • Specific laser systems
  9. Laser cooling and trapping
    • Radiation pressure and dipole forces
    • Cooling and heating forces, laser cooling
    • Optical dipole traps
    • Sub-Doppler cooling
    • Cooling and trapping of multi-level atoms

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the physics of photon-atom interaction both in a semi-classic and quantum frameworks.
  2. Explain the principles of laser operation, laser cooling and trapping of atoms, slow light, and laser spectroscopy.
  3. Apply the methods used in the course (e.g. exact diagonalization, dressed states, Master equations, Focker Planck and Langevin approach) to many other systems in optics, atomic, and condensed matter physics.

Reading List

  1. Amnon Yariv, Quantum Electronics (reserved shelf).
  2. Cohen-Tannoudji, Dupont-Roc, & Grynberg: Photons, Atom-Photon Interactions. (reserved shelf).
  3. P. Meystre, and M. Sargent III, Elements of Quantum Optics (reserved shelf).
  4. Harold J. Metcalf, Laser Cooling and Trapping (reserved shelf).
  5. R. Loudon, Quantum Theory of Light (reserved shelf).
  6. C. Cohen-Tannoudji, Atomic Motion in Laser Light, in Fundamental systems in quantum optics, Les Houches 1990 pp. 1-161 (PDF file available from the lecturer).
  7. M. Greiner and M. Lukin lecture notes (PDF file available from the lecturer).