Quantum Optics

Course content

The course introduces quantum optics, i.e. the quantum mechanical aspects of the interaction between light and matter. The photon concept is introduced with the quantization of the free electromagnetic field and the role of boundary conditions is analyzed. Measurement of field correlation properties by photo-detection are discussed, and simple input/output systems are analyzed. Quantum properties of light, such as photon anti-bunching, two-photon interferometry, squeezed, and entangled states of light are discussed. Spontaneous emission is treated by semi-classical perturbation theory and by quantum optical methods forming the basis for a description of cavity quantum electrodynamics. Rabi oscillations for a 2-level emittter driven by a strong laser fields are analyzed and several applications of quantum optics in quantum communication and quantum measurements are discussed.


MSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome

The course aims to give a thorough introduction to the quantum mechanical description of the electromagnetic field and the interaction between light and matter. Specifically, after following this course students should be able to

  • quantize Maxwell’s equation in free space and identify useful mode functions in different geometries
  • analyze different photo-detection methods, like e.g. photon counting, homodyne and heterodyne detection, with emphasis on the measurement of non-classical correlations
  • explain and apply quantum mechanical input and output relations to beam splitters and interferometers,
  • analyze the interaction between atoms and the electromagnetic filed with wemi-classical and quantum optical methods,
  • account for coherent quantum optical phenomena such as Rabi osciallations.
  • understand properties and methods of generation of single photon, anti-bunched, squeezed and entangled states of light.


  • describe the quantum state of a field in different bases, e.g. coherent state and Fock state basis,
  • explain the concept of quantum coherence of light,
  • account for coherent quantum optical phenomena such as Rabi osciallations.
  • understand properties and methods of generation of single photon, anti-bunched, squeezed and entangled states of light.

This course will provide the students with a competent background for further and more advanced courses within quantum optics and for carrying out a M.Sc. project within the field. The topics covered in the course also have links to the fields of atomic physics, optics, condensed matter physics, and quantum field theory, and the course gives fundamental insight into the background of optical devices like, e.g., lasers.

Lectures and Exercises

See Absalon for final course material. The following is an example of expected course litterature.

Selected chapters from "Introductory Quantum Optics", Christopher C. Gerry and Peter L. Knight, Cambridge University Press. Additional material handed out at the lectures.

The course requires prior knowledge of classical electrodynamics and waves together with elementary quantum mechanics. Prior studies in classical optics, laser physics and advanced quantum mechanics are very helpful, but not required.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 25 min
Type of assessment details
5 minutes preparation time
Written aids allowed

Notes and literature allowed.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More internal examiners

same as regular exam

Criteria for exam assessment

see learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 149,5
  • Theory exercises
  • 28
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • English
  • 206,0


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 3
No restriction
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience
Contracting department
  • The Niels Bohr Institute
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinators
  • Peter Lodahl   (6-6f7267646b6f4371656c316e7831676e)
  • Eugene Simon Polzik   (6-73726f7d6c6e4371656c316e7831676e)
Phone: 35 32 53 06

Peter Lodahl
Eugene Polzik, Phone: 35 32 54 24, e-mail: polzik@nbi.dk

Saved on the 28-02-2023

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students