- Code PHYS2020
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Research School of Physics
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Physics
- Areas of interest Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Physics
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 throughout science.
This course provides an introduction to classical thermodynamics, with applications in materials science & engineering and earth science, as well as statistical thermodynamics, with applications in solid state physics and astrophysics.
The course begins with classical thermodynamics to introduce the fundamental concepts of temperature, energy, and heat. It then moves to statistical mechanics in which the laws of statistics are used to predict the behaviour of ensembles of particles through the concept of entropy. These concepts are then used within thermodynamics to explore free energies, and understand heat engines, refrigerators and phase transformations and fuel cells. The course then returns to statistical physics to where Boltzmann and Gibbs factors and partition functions are applied to both classical and quantum systems, including blackbody radiation and Fermi gases.
HPO is available for this course and will be worth 15% of the overall mark. Students can opt in to the HPO via the course Wattle page by Friday week 2. Students who do not submit HPO assessment or score lower in the HPO assessment, are considered to have opted out. See "other information section" for details.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Identify and describe the statistical nature of concepts and laws in thermodynamics, in particular: entropy, temperature, chemical potential, free energies, partition functions.
- Apply the statistical physics methods, such as Boltzmann distribution, Gibbs distribution, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions to solve problems in some physical systems.
- Apply the concepts and laws of thermodynamics to solve problems in thermodynamic systems such as gases, heat engines, fuel cells and refrigerators.
- Analyze phase equilibrium condition and identify types of phase transitions of physical systems.
- Make connections between applications of general statistical theory in various branches of physics.
- Design, set up, and carry out experiments; analyse data recognising and accounting for errors; and compare with theoretical predictions.
HPO: The Honours Pathway Option will involve working through a common set of quiz problems that extend the material. A set of quiz questions will be made available roughly fortnightly. Each set of questions starts with easy questions, but the questions increase in difficulty towards the end. HPO is 15% of your final grade, and will amount to be around an extra 15 hours of work across the teaching period, the remaining assessment will be weighted at 85%. Students undertaking the HPO will engage particularly with Learning Outcomes 2 and 3.
- Weekly quizzes (5) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
- weekly problem sheets. (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
- Extended self-directed project, experimental or simulation-based, presented in a written or video report. (20) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
- Laboratory work (15) [LO 2,3,4,6]
- Mid-Semester exam (15) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
- Final exam (25) [LO 1,2,3,4,5,6]
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The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:
- Face-to face component which may consist of 1 x 3 hour lab session plus 2 x 2 hour workshops per week throughout the semester.
- Approximately 70 hours of self-directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.
No specific inherent requirements have been identified for this course.
Requisite and Incompatibility
An Introduction to Thermal Physics, Daniel V Schroeder. Published by Addison Wesley Longman, 2000.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
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