Department of Physics

The fundamental goal of the science of physics is to develop a basic and comprehensive understanding and description of all forms of matter and energy. This goal is pursued through experimental and theoretical investigations, with experimental results pointing the way toward possible new theories and tentative theories suggesting new experiments. Physics occupies a middle ground between mathematics and engineering, using the techniques of the former and providing new ideas and materials (structures and properties) to the latter.

The Department of Physics offers the Bachelor of Science in Physics (Curriculum in Physics) and the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a Major in Physics.

The Physics major who continues on to a PhD or who combines a physics background with an advanced degree in engineering or another science, or with an MBA, will find many positions available in industry. The Physics major who obtains a PhD will qualify in many cases for a faculty position in engineering as well as physics.

In addition to the Physics majors, the department also offers a Minor in Physics. The minor in physics is an attractive option for students in the math, chemistry, biology, pre-health, and engineering programs.

Distinction

Departmental Distinction

Distinction in physics is awarded to students who achieve college honors and an overall minimum GPA of 3.50/4.00 in upper-division physics (400-level) and mathematics (300-level and above) courses.

Students who qualify for departmental distinction are recommended for high or highest distinction on the basis of grade point average and/or high performance in PHYS 391 or PHYS 392, described as follows.

High Distinction

A minimum overall GPA of 3.70/4.00 in upper-division physics and mathematics courses or a minimum overall GPA of 3.50/4.00 in upper-division physics and mathematics courses and high performance in PHYS 391 or PHYS 392, as judged by the instructor of the course.

Highest Distinction

A minimum overall GPA of 3.80/4.00 in upper-division physics and mathematics courses or a minimum overall GPA of 3.70/4.00 in upper-division physics and mathematics courses and high performance in PHYS 391 or PHYS 392, as judged by the instructor of the course.

Degree Programs

Minors

Courses

PHYS 100. Preparatory Physics. 3 hours.

Introduction to basic physics concepts, problem-solving skills, and quantitative reasoning. Course Information: No credit toward the Major in Physics, BS in Physics, or Minor in Physics. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better or concurrent registration in MATH 121; or appropriate score on the department placement test.

PHYS 104. Problem-Solving Workshop for Introductory Physics I. 1 hour.

A workshop where small groups of students work together to solve problems using computers. The problems are similar to, and sometimes more challenging than, those given in Physics 105/106. Course Information: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. PHYS 104 is the companion course for the PHYS 105 lecture. Must enroll concurrently in PHYS 105 and PHYS 106.

PHYS 105. Introductory Physics I - Lecture. 4 hours.

A non-calculus course. One-dimensional and two-dimensional kinematics; Newton?s laws; momentum; work and energy; torque and angular momentum; rotational dynamics; universal gravitation; oscillations; waves; physical optics; special relativity. Course Information: Credit is not given for PHYS 105 if the student has credit in PHYS 141. Students may obtain one additional hour of credit by concurrently registering in PHYS 104. Prerequisite(s): High school algebra and trigonometry. Class Schedule Information: During fall and spring terms, combined-section final exam will be held on Wednesday of finals week from 6 to 8 p.m. Natural World - No Lab course.

PHYS 106. Introductory Physics I - Laboratory. 1 hour.

One-dimensional and two-dimensional kinematics; Newton?s laws; momentum; work and energy; torque and angular momentum; rotational dynamics; universal gravitation; oscillations; waves; physical optics; special relativity. Course Information: Credit is not given for PHYS 106 if the student has credit for PHYS 141. Laboratory course. Prerequisite(s): High school algebra and trigonometry. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Discussion and one Laboratory. Natural World - With Lab course.

PHYS 107. Introductory Physics II - Lecture. 4 hours.

Non-calculus course. Electrostatics; electric current; magnetism; Faraday?s law; Maxwell?s relations; electromagnetic radiation; introduction to quantum mechanics; the Heisenberg uncertainty principle; Bohr model; nuclear physics; particle physics. Course Information: Credit is not given for PHYS 107 if the student has credit for PHYS 142. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in PHYS 105 and Grade of C or better in PHYS 106. Class Schedule Information: During fall and spring terms, combined-section final exam will be held on Monday of finals week from 6 to 8 p.m. Natural World - No Lab course.

PHYS 108. Introductory Physics II - Laboratory. 1 hour.

Electrostatic; electric current; magnetism; Faraday's law; Maxwell's relations; electromagnetic radiation; optics, introduction to quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle; Bohr model; nuclear physics; particle physics. Course Information: Credit is not given for PHYS 108 if the student has credit for PHYS 142. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in PHYS 105 and Grade of C or better in PHYS 106. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Discussion/Recitation and one Laboratory. Natural World - With Lab course.

PHYS 112. Astronomy and the Universe. 4 hours.

Astronomy in the context of the scientific process, history and current events. Covers the Solar System, stars and galaxies and the origin and fate of the universe. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Laboratory and one Lecture. Natural World - With Lab course.

PHYS 116. Energy for Future Decision-Makers. 3 hours.

Survey of energy sustainability and environmental issues. All energy forms of production, sources, storage, and uses; their environmental implications on a global scale within the scientific, technological, political, economic, and social context. Course Information: Same as EAES 116. Recommended background: High school algebra. Natural World - No Lab course.

PHYS 118. Physics in Modern Medicine. 3 hours.

Survey course of physical technologies used in modern medicine and the underlying physics, including applications of optics, imaging, and nuclear medicine to diagnosis, surgery, therapy and treatment. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): High school algebra, trigonometry, and biology. Natural World - No Lab course.

PHYS 122. Problem-Solving Workshop for Natural Sciences -The Physical Universe. 1 hour.

A workshop where small groups of students work together to solve problems similar to, but more challenging than, the problems given in PHYS 112 or PHYS 121. Course Information: Must enroll concurrently in PHYS 112 or PHYS 121.

PHYS 141. General Physics I (Mechanics). 4 hours.

Kinematics, vectors, Newton?s laws of motion; linear momentum, collisions; work and kinetic energy; potential energy, conservation of energy; rotational kinematics and energy; rotational dynamics, static equilibrium; simple harmonic motion. Course Information: Credit is not given if the student has credit in PHYS 105 or PHYS 106. Students may obtain one additional hour of credit by concurrently registering in PHYS 144. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better or concurrent registration in MATH 180; or approval of the department ; and Grade of C or better in PHYS 100 or adequate performance on the departmental placement test. Class Schedule Information: During the fall and spring terms, combined-section final exam will be held on Wednesday of finals week from 6 to 8 p.m. To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Laboratory and one Lecture-Discussion. Natural World - With Lab course.

PHYS 142. General Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism). 4 hours.

Electrostatics; electric currents; d-c circuits; magnetic fields; magnetic media; electromagnetic induction; a-c circuits; Maxwell?s equations; electromagnetic waves; reflection and refraction; interference; geometrical optics. Course Information: Credit is not given for PHYS 142 if the student has credit in PHYS 107. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in PHYS 141; and Grade of C or better or concurrent registration in MATH 181. Class Schedule Information: During fall and spring terms, combined-section final exam will be held on Thursday of finals week from 1 to 3 p.m. To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Laboratory and one Lecture-Discussion. Natural World - With Lab course.

PHYS 144. Problem-Solving Workshop for General Physics I (Mechanics). 1 hour.

A workshop where smaller groups of students work together with the instructor to enhance their problem solving skills by solving additional problems both similar to, as well as more challenging than, the ones given in Physics 141. Course Information: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. Must enroll concurrently in PHYS 141.

PHYS 145. Problem-Solving Workshop for General Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism). 1 hour.

A workshop where smaller groups of students work together with the instructor to enhance their problem-solving skills by solving additional problems both similar to, as well as more challenging than, problems given in Physics 142. Course Information: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. Requires concurrent registration in PHYS 142.

PHYS 215. Computational and Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences. 4 hours.

Computational and mathematical methods applied to basic problems in physics. Course Information: Extensive computer use required. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in PHYS 142 or Grade of C or better in PHYS 107; and Grade of C or better in MATH 181; and Grade of C or better or concurrent registration in MATH 210. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Lecture and one Laboratory.

PHYS 216. Problem-Solving Workshop for Mathematical Methods for Physicists. 1 hour.

A workshop where groups of students work together to solve mathematical physics problems using Maple. Course Information: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. Extensive computer use required. Taught in a computer lab. Prerequisite(s): Credit or concurrent registration in PHYS 215. Recommended to be taken concurrently with PHYS 215.

PHYS 230. Fundamentals of Relativity. 3 hours.

Introduction to the theory of relativity, including special relativity (Lorentz contraction, time dilation, energy-mass equivalence, kinematics and electrodynamics) and general relativity (gravity, black holes). Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in MATH 181; and Grade of C or better in PHYS 142; or Grade of B or better in PHYS 107.

PHYS 240. Fundamentals of Modern Quantum Theory. 3 hours.

Modern introduction to the quantum theory including discrete systems (qubits, etc.), quantum measurement theory, entanglement, Bell?s Theorem, the Uncertainty Principle, one-dimensional potential models, and the Schrodinger-von Neumann equation. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in MATH 181; and Grade of C or better in PHYS 142; or Grade of B or better in PHYS 107. Physics majors (BA and BS) are required to register concurrently for PHYS 241.

PHYS 241. Experiments in Modern Physics. 1 hour.

Companion course to PHYS 240 that includes laboratory experiments on introductory quantum theory and modern physics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in MATH 181 and Grade of C or better in PHYS 142; or Grade of B or better in PHYS 107. Requires concurrent registration in PHYS 240 or approval of the department.

PHYS 245. Introduction to Vibrations, Waves, and Thermal Physics. 4 hours.

Free, forced, damped, and coupled oscillations; normal modes; Fourier analysis; resonance; waves; interference; diffraction; heat energy; entropy; introduction to thermodynamics, kinetic theory of gases, and basic statistical physics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in MATH 181; and Grade of C or better in PHYS 142; or Grade of B or better in PHYS 107. Recommended background: Credit or concurrent registration in MATH 220. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Laboratory and one Lecture.

PHYS 260. Introduction to Thermal Physics. 2 hours.

Calculus-based introduction to thermal physics. The first and second laws of thermodynamics, entropy, free energy, statistical physics, and their applications. Course Information: This course does not satisfy the requirements for degrees in physics. Prerequisite(s): Grade of C or better in PHYS 141 and Grade of C or better in MATH 181. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Lecture-Discussion and one Laboratory-Discussion.

PHYS 391. Physics Seminar. 1 hour.

Preparation and presentation by students of talks on topics of current interest in physics. Course Information: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. May be repeated to a maximum of 4 hours. Prerequisite(s): Senior standing.

PHYS 392. Physics Research. 2-4 hours.

Research under the close supervision of a faculty member. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: This course counts toward the limited number of independent study hours accepted toward the degree and the major.

PHYS 393. Special Problems. 2-4 hours.

Special problems or reading in modern physics under individual arrangement with a faculty member. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: This course counts toward the limited number of independent study hours accepted toward the degree and the major.

PHYS 401. Electromagnetism I. 4 hours.

Vector calculus; electrostatic fields in vacuum; solution of electrostatic boundary-value problems; electrostatic fields in material media; electrostatic energy; electric currents. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 215 and MATH 220; or approval of the department.

PHYS 402. Electromagnetism II. 4 hours.

Magnetostatics in vacuum and matter; electrodynamics; Maxwell's equations; electromagnetic waves in vacuum and matter; radiation; relativistic electrodynamics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 230 and PHYS 401; or approval of the department.

PHYS 411. Quantum Mechanics I. 4 hours.

Wave particle duality; wave functions; matrix representation; operators and observables; 1-D potentials; harmonic oscillator; eigenvalues and eigenfunctions; time-independent perturbation theory; approximation methods; 3-D Schroedinger?s equation. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 215 and PHYS 240 and PHYS 245; or approval of the department. Recommended background: MATH 220.

PHYS 412. Quantum Mechanics II. 4 hours.

This is the second semester of a two-semester undergraduate level sequence on the concepts and methods of Quantum Mechanics and their applications. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 411; or approval of the department.

PHYS 421. Modern Physics: Atoms and Molecules. 4 hours.

Hydrogenic atoms, electron spin, external fields, multi-electron atoms, diatomic molecules, line widths, photons, radiation from atoms and other electromagnetic processes, positrons, positronium, elastic electron scattering. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): Credit or concurrent registration in PHYS 411.

PHYS 425. Modern Optics. 4 hours.

Review of electromagnetic wave theory and introductory optics; advanced geometrical optics; Fourier transforms and optics; interference and diffraction; solar cells and LEDs; laser cavities and gain media; introduction to nonlinear and fiber optics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 240; or approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Discussion, one Laboratory and one Lecture.

PHYS 431. Modern Physics: Condensed Matter. 4 hours.

Crystal structures; interatomic binding; lattice vibrations; thermal and magnetic properties; quantum statistical mechanics; free electron theory of metals; electronic band theory; semiconductors and insulators; superconductivity. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 411 and PHYS 461; or consent of the instructor.

PHYS 441. Theoretical Mechanics. 4 hours.

Review of Newtonian mechanics; non-inertial reference systems; gravitation and central forces; moment of inertia tensors; rigid body motion; Euler?s equations; Lagrangian mechanics; generalized coordinates; Hamilton?s equations; coupled oscillators. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 142 and PHYS 215; or approval of the department.

PHYS 450. Molecular Biophysics of the Cell. 4 hours.

Introduction to force, time energies at nanometer scales; Boltzmann distribution; hydrodynamic drag; Brownian motions; DNA, RNA protein structure and function; sedimentation; chemical kinetics; general aspects of flexible polymers. Course Information: Same as BIOE 450. Prerequisite(s): PHYS 245 or the equivalent; or approval of the department.

PHYS 451. Modern Physics: Nuclei and Elementary Particles. 4 hours.

Accelerators, detectors, symmetries, conservation laws, leptons, weak interactions, electroweak theory, strong interactions, hadrons, nuclear forces, systematics and reactions, nuclear models, nuclear astrophysics, quarks, quantum chromodynamics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 411.

PHYS 461. Thermal and Statistical Physics. 4 hours.

Thermal equilibrium (Zeroth Law); thermodynamic states (First Law); irreversibility; entropy (Second Law); thermodynamic potentials and properties; phase transitions; kinetic theory of gases; classical statistical mechanics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 245; or approval of the department.

PHYS 469. The Learning and Teaching of Physics. 4 hours.

Provides teacher candidates with the foundations and experiences necessary for teaching physics in secondary schools. For those currently teaching, it will also provide tools and background to improve their physics instruction. Course Information: 4 hours. Extensive computer use required. Prerequisite(s): PHYS 142; or PHYS 107 and PHYS 108; or approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Lecture-Discussion and one Laboratory.

PHYS 470. Educational Practice with Seminar I. 6 hours.

The first half of a two-segment sequence of practice teaching, including seminar, to meet certification requirements for teaching in grades six through twelve. Course Information: Graduate credit only with approval of the department. Prerequisite(s): Good academic standing in a teacher education program, completion of 100 clock hours of pre-student-teaching field experiences, and approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Lecture-Discussion and one Practice.

PHYS 471. Educational Practice with Seminar II. 6 hours.

The second half of a two-segment sequence of practice teaching, including seminar, to meet certification requirements for teaching in grades six through twelve. Course Information: Graduate credit only with approval of the department. Prerequisite(s): Good academic standing in a teacher education program, completion of 100 clock hours of pre-student-teaching field experiences, credit or concurrent registration in PHYS 470, and approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Conference and one Practice.

PHYS 475. Learning and Teaching of Physical Sciences. 3 hours.

Provides teacher candidates with the foundation and experience necessary to teach physical sciences in secondary schools. Course Information: Same as CHEM 475. Prerequisite(s): Senior standing or above; or approval of the department. Recommended background: Knowledge of first-year college physics and chemistry. Class Schedule: To be properly registered students must enroll in one Lecture-Discussion and one Laboratory.

PHYS 480. Elements of Machining Scientific Equipment. 1 hour.

Elements of machining scientific equipment, including the use of machine shop tools and technical drawing of scientific apparatus. Course Information: Same as CHEM 480 and EAES 478. Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading only. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing; and approval of the department.

PHYS 481. Modern Experimental Physics I. 4 hours.

Theory and experimental use of linear circuits, semiconductor devices, amplifiers, oscillators. Techniques and experiments in atomic, molecular and solid-state physics. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 240; or approval of the department. Requires concurrent registration in PHYS 499 for students enrolled in the BA or BS in Physics programs. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Laboratory and one Lecture-Discussion.

PHYS 482. Modern Experimental Physics II. 4 hours.

Techniques and experiments in nuclear and particle physics. Gamma-gamma correlations, muon lifetime, Compton scattering, alpha particle scattering. Computer-based experimentation. Course Information: Prerequisite(s): PHYS 481; or approval of the department. Class Schedule Information: To be properly registered, students must enroll in one Laboratory and one Lecture-Discussion.

PHYS 491. Special Topics in Physics. 1-4 hours.

Selected topics of current interest in Physics. Course Information: May be repeated. Prerequisite(s): PHYS 215 and sophomore standing or above; or approval of the department.

PHYS 494. Special Topics in Physics Teaching. 2-4 hours.

Seminar on various topics related to the teaching of physics. Subjects are announced. Course Information: May be repeated. Students may register in more than one section per term. Supervised teaching practice included. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing or approval of the department.

PHYS 499. Survey of Physics Problems. 1 hour.

Problem-solving techniques applied to the variety of undergraduate physics topics. Course Information: No graduation credit for graduate students. Grade of C or better required to graduate with an undergraduate degree in physics. Co-requisite(s):Concurrent registration in PHYS 481.