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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Physics and Astronomy : Undergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy)

Undergraduate Course: Thermal Physics (PHYS09061)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Course typeStandard AvailabilityAvailable to all students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaUndergraduate (School of Physics and Astronomy) Other subject areaNone
Course website Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis two-semester course covers thermal physics, the first semester contains an introduction to equilibrium thermodynamics. The First and Second laws of thermodynamics are introduced, along with the concepts of temperature, internal energy, heat, entropy and the thermodynamic potentials. Applications of thermodynamic concepts to topics such as heat engines, the expansion of gases and changes of phase are considered. The Third Law, and associated properties of entropy, complete this section.

The second semester provides an introduction to the microscopic formulation of thermal physics, generally known as statistical mechanics. We explore the general principles, from which emerge an understanding of the microscopic significance of entropy and temperature. We develop the machinery needed to form a practical tool linking microscopic models of many-particle systems with measurable quantities. We consider a range of applications to simple models of crystalline solids, classical gases, quantum gases and blackbody radiation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?No
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Full Year, Available to all students (SV1) Learn enabled:  No Quota:  None
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Class Delivery Information 2 lectures per week
1 tutorial (2 hours)
Course Start Date 16/09/2013
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Formative Assessment Hours 3, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 148 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 80 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)3:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. - State in precise terms the foundational principles of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics and how they relate to broader physical principles.
- Devise and implement a systematic strategy for solving a complex problem in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics by breaking it down into its constituent parts.
- Apply a wide range of mathematical techniques to build up the solution to a complex physical problem.
- Use experience and intuition gained from solving physics problems to predict the likely range of reasonable solutions to an unseen problem.
- Resolve conceptual and technical difficulties by locating and integrating relevant information from a diverse range of sources.

2. Upon successful completion of this course it is intended that a student will be able to:
1)State the Zeroth, First, Second and Third Laws of thermodynamics, if appropriate in different but equivalent forms and demonstrate their equivalence
2)Understand all the concepts needed to state the laws of thermodynamics, such as 'thermodynamic equilibrium', 'exact' and 'inexact' differentials and 'reversible' and 'irreversible' processes
3)Use the laws of thermodynamics (particularly the first and second laws) to solve a variety of problems, such as the expansion of gases and the efficiency of heat engines
4)Understand the meaning and significance of state variables in general, and of the variables P; V; T;U; S in particular, especially in the context of a simple fluid, and to manipulate these variables to solve a variety of thermodynamic problems
5) Understand the efficiency and properties of thermodynamic cycles for heat engines, refrigerators and heat pumps.
6)Define the enthalpy H, Helmholtz function F and the Gibbs function G and state their roles in determining equilibrium under different constraints
7)Manipulate (using suitable results from the theory of functions of many variables) a variety of thermodynamic derivatives, including a number of 'material properties' such as heat capacity, thermal expansivity and compressibility, and solve problems in which such derivatives appear.
8)Sketch the phase diagram of a simple substance in various representations and understand the concept of an 'equation of state' (as exemplified by the van der Waals' equation for a fluid) and the basic thermodynamics of phase transitions
9)Demonstrate a grasp of the orders of magnitudes of the various central quantities involved.
Assessment Information
Coursework 20%
Examination 80%
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus Thermodynamics (semester 1):
- Thermal equilibrium; equations of state and thermodynamic stability; PV diagrams; temperature scales.
- First law: heat and work; reversible and irreversible processes; heat capacities.
- Thermodynamic processes: reversible expansions (isothermal, adiabatic); irreversible expansions (Joule, Joule-Kelvin); illustration with ideal and van der Waals gases.
- Second law: entropy from a thermodynamic perspective (Clausius, Kelvin-Planck definitions).
- Cyclic processes: Carnot cycle, maximum efficiency.
- Thermodynamic potentials; Legendre transformations; Maxwell relations; applications to various thermodynamic processes.
- Introduction to Black Body radiation (treated more fully in Statistical Mechanics).
- Thermodynamic approach to phase transitions; van der Waals as example; continuous and discontinous transitions; critical point.
- Third law.
- Chemical potential and open systems.
- Superconductivity and superfluidity as concepts.

Statistical Mechanics (semester 2):
- Statistical description of many-body systems; formulation as a probability distribution over microstates; central limit theorem and macrostates.
- Statistical mechanical formulation of entropy.
- Minimisation of the free energy to find equilibrium.
- Derivation of the Boltzmann distribution from principle of equal a priori probabilities in extended system.
- Determination of free energy and macroscopic quantities from partition function; applications to simple systems (paramagnet, ideal gas, etc).
- Multi-particle systems: distinguishable and indistinguishable particles in a classical treatment; Entropy of mixing and the Gibbs paradox.
- Fermi-Dirac distribution; application to thermal properties of electrons in metals.
- Bose-Einstein distribution; application to the properties of black body radiation; Bose-Einstein condensation.
- Introduction to phase transitions and spontaneous ordering from a statistical mechanical viewpoint: illustration of complexity arising from interactions; simple-minded mean-field treatment of an interacting system (e.g., van der Waals gas, Ising model); general formalism in terms of Landau free energy.
- Introduction to stochastic dynamics: need for a stochastic formulation of dynamics; principle of detailed balance; relaxation to equilibrium; application to Monte Carlo simulation; Langevin equation and random walks.
Transferable skills Not entered
Reading list Finn, Thermal Physics
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
Course organiserDr Alexander Morozov
Tel: (0131 6)50 5289
Course secretaryMiss Jillian Bainbridge
Tel: (0131 6)50 7218
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