The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Governor's Schools


Physics

Welcome to the Governor's School

Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics focuses on the most recent exciting developments in physics. It is a map of the reality of the world around us on the microscopic scale. Its properties, such as superposition, coherence, entanglement, teleportation, etc., have given rise to various paradoxes (Schrodinger’s cat, the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox, etc.). Back in the early ’80s, Feynman was among the first to suggest that these principles may enable us to process information at much faster speeds than any classical computer. Ever since, people have been trying to harness the power of quantum mechanics and build a quantum computer. This subject is still in its infancy, but already industry giants, such as Microsoft, IBM and Google, are trying to make use of a quantum computer.

In this course students explore the world of atoms, nuclei, and elementary particles. The laws of quantum mechanics, which predict the behavior of these particles, seem puzzling, because our intuition has been build up in a way that ignores quantum mechanical behavior. Students having a mathematical background in high-school algebra and trigonometry and a having taken a high-school physics or physical science course can successfully complete the course. Emphasis is placed on conceptual understanding. Topics covered include the behavior of light, the essential features of quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular structure, the conduction of electricity in solids, nuclear physics, and elementary particles and cosmology.

The course uses a textbook and interactive, web-based class modules. Lectures, demonstrations, experiments and computer simulation are part of the course. Visits of research facilities at the University of Tennessee introduce students to the latest exciting developments in various areas of physics.

Course Requirements

The criteria for assigning grades for the course are the following:

Passing grade for the course: C

Course Instructors

Dr. Norman Mannella, Course Director

Norman MannellaNorman Mannella is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UTK. Norman came to the US in 1997 after graduation from “Universita’ degli Studi di Milano” (Milano, Italy) with Laurea in Fisica (Master in Physics) in 1996. He enrolled in the Physics Graduate program at Univ. of California, Davis, and got his PhD in 2003 with Prof. C. S. Fadley. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow, at the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials (GLAM), Physics Department, Stanford University, and a Visiting Scientist at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), LBNL, Berkeley, under the supervision of Prof. Z.X. Shen and Dr. Z. Hussain from Sep 2003 to Oct. 2006. He joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UT, Knoxville, in late 2007, after spending one year (2006-2007) as a Beamline scientist at the ALS, LBNL, Berkeley, in the Scientific Support Group of Dr. Z. Hussain and as a Research Associate in GLAM, Stanford University, with Prof. Z.X. Shen.

Norman’s general research interests concern the study of the electron correlations and the mechanisms of the interactions among different degrees of freedom in complex electron systems. Complex electron systems, featuring high temperature superconductors and colossal resistive manganites as prominent examples, are capable of exhibiting spectacular and unexpected phenomena arising from the interplay and competition of several degrees of freedom such as charge, lattice, and spin. This interplay is at the heart of the physics at play behind the functionality of complex electron systems suitable for technological applications which may have a strong impact on energy-saving and environmental science. Spectroscopic and structural probes in the soft x-ray regime are employed as the main tools in his research.

He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award (2012), the SPS Outstanding Teacher Award (2012), and the 2013 Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement.

Daniel Odell, Teaching Assistant

Daniel OdellDaniel is entering his third year in graduate school. He started researching nuclear theory at the beginning of 2015 after spending three semesters teaching lab sessions for the introductory physics courses. Prior to attending graduate school at UT, he taught high school science and worked at Savannah River National Laboratory.



 

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