HPO option is available for this course.
Thermal physics deals with large numbers of particles, anything big enough to see with a conventional microscope. From understanding the greenhouse effect to the blackbody radiation left over from the Big Bang, no other physical theory is used more widely through out science.
This course begins with classical thermodynamics to introduce the fundamental concepts of temperature, energy, and entropy. These concepts are then used to explore free energy, heat, and the fundamental behaviour of heat engines and refrigerators. The physical and mathematical bases of statistical mechanics, in which the laws of statistics are used to make the connection between the quantum behaviour of 1 atom and the behaviour of bulk matter made up of 10^23 atoms, are then introduced. This leads to the statistical physics concepts of temperature, entropy, Boltzmann and Gibbs factors, partition functions, and distribution functions. These concepts are applied to both classical and quantum systems, including phase transformations, blackbody radiation, and Fermi gases.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
1. Identify and describe the statistical nature of concepts and laws in thermodynamics, in particular: entropy, temperature, chemical potential, Free energies, partition functions.
2. Use the statistical physics methods, such as Boltzmann distribution, Gibbs distribution, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions to solve problems in some physical systems.
3. Apply the concepts and principles of black-body radiation to analyze radiation phenomena in thermodynamic systems.
4. Apply the concepts and laws of thermodynamics to solve problems in thermodynamic systems such as gases, heat engines and refrigerators etc.
5. Analyze phase equilibrium condition and identify types of phase transitions of physical systems.
6. Make connections between applications of general statistical theory in various branches of physics.
7. Design, set up, and carry out experiments; analyse data recognising and accounting for errors; and compare with theoretical predictions.
Assessment will be based on:
- Weekly problem sheets and/or quizzes to assess abilities to analyse problems, identify approaches to solutions, and apply the concepts and mathematical formalisms of thermal physics (35%; LO 1-6)
- An extended research assignment resulting in a paper and a presentation, providing an opportunity to focus on a chosen aspect of thermal physics, thus allowing students to gain a deeper appreciation of the structure and applications of thermal physics (15%; LO 1-6)
- Laboratory component to evaluate understanding of the significance of particular experimental results and the ability to integrate theoretical and experimental work (20%; LO 2, 3, 4, 7)
- Final exam (30%; LO 1-6)
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A total of approximately twenty-eight lectures and thirty hours of tutorials and laboratory work.
Requisite and Incompatibility
An Introduction to Thermal Physics, Daniel V Schroeder. Published by Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.
Assumed KnowledgeIt is desirable that students take MATH2305 or MATH2405 simultaneously with PHYS2013 unless they have previously completed MATH2023, but it is not a course requirement.
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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