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

Undergraduate Course: Physics 1B: The Stuff of the Universe (PHYS08017)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Physics and Astronomy CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPhysics 1B is an introductory-level course, giving an overview of a range of physics topics, including waves, optics, elementary quantum mechanics, properties of matter, nuclear and particle physics, astrophysics and experimental physics. The course is designed for those with qualifications in physics and mathematics at SCE Higher level or equivalent. It serves both as a preparation for further study in physics-based degree courses, and as a stand-alone course for students of other disciplines, including (but not limited to) mathematics, chemistry, computer science and engineering. The course includes an experimental laboratory element, Experimental Physics 1.
Course description Part I: Waves & Optics

1. Classical Waves & Optics
- Introduction to waves.
- Sound Waves. Velocity of waves and medium properties.
- Light. Spectrum of Electromagnetic waves. Velocity of light in a vacuum and media.
- Superposition of waves.

2. Geometric optics
- Wave-fronts. Rays. Fermat's Principle.
- Reflection, refraction
- Lenses. Real and virtual images. Image conditions
- Multiple lenses. Optical instruments: telscopes and microscopes.

3. Interference and diffraction
- Interference. Phase differences.
- Diffraction by a single slit. Young's double slits. Diffraction gratings. X-ray diffraction.

Part II: Atoms, Molecules and Solids

1. The Quantum World
- The Photoelectric Effect. Planck's constant. The Photon. Quantisation of Energy.
- Diffraction of electrons. Diffraction of neutrons and atoms. The de Broglie wavelength.
- Wave particle duality. The wavefunction. Wave packets. The uncertainty principle.
- The probability density interpretation of the wavefunction. Schrödinger's cat. The role of the observer. The quantum interpretation of the double slit experiment.

2. Elementary Quantum Mechanics
- Schrödinger's equation. Solutions for a free particle, and a particle in a box.
- Potential wells. Energy levels in an infinite well and in a harmonic well.
- Effect of a step potential. The finite barrier. Quantum tunnelling.

3. The Hydrogen Atom
- A review of classical circular orbits. The Bohr model. Energy dependence of radius. Limitation of classical picture.
- Quantisation of angular momentum and energy. Electron spin. Wave functions and probability distributions. Energy levels.
- Absorption and emission of photons. Bohr frequency condition. Spectral lines for Hydrogen. Allowed and forbidden transitions. Line widths and lifetimes.

4. Complex Atoms and Molecules
-Multi-electron atoms. Energy level diagrams and spectral lines. The Pauli exclusion principle. Fermions and bosons. Orbitals. The periodic table of elements.
- Stimulated emission. Population inversion and amplification. The Helium-Neon laser.
- The hydrogen molecule. Splitting of single electron energy levels. The covalent bond. Brief discussion of other types of bonds.

5. The Solid State
- The phases of matter. Gases, liquids and solids. Crystalline and amorphous materials. Crystal structure.
- Energy bands. Insulators and metals. Filled and unfilled bands. The Fermi level. Conduction of electricity in metals.
- Semiconductors. Conduction and valence bands. Electrons and holes. Doping. The pn junction and the laser diode.
- Superfluid Helium. Bosons don't obey exclusion principle. Condensation into a collective ground state. Cooper pairs and superconductivity.

Part III: The Stuff of the Universe

1. The Atomic Nucleus
- Discovery of the nucleus. The nuclear scale. The nucleon-nucleon interaction. Mass and Binding Energy.
- Radioactive decays: The radioactive decay law. Alpha, beta and gamma decays.
- Nuclear reactions: Nuclear stability, Nuclear fission (spontaneous and induced) and Nuclear fusion (nucleosynthesis and thermonuclear).

2. Elementary Particles
- Introduction to elementary particles. Basic methods. The muon and pion. Exchange theory of forces.
- The particle explosion. Categorising the particles. Evidence for quarks. The Standard Model.
- Annihilation and pair production. Conservation laws. Feynman diagrams. The fundamental forces.

3. Matter in the Universe
- The expanding universe: Doppler effect, red-shift. Hubble's Law. The critical density.
- Origin of the elements. Big bang nucleosynthesis. Stellar nucleosynthesis.
- Dark matter. Dark energy. Links between particle physics and astrophysics. GUTs and TOEs.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements SCE Higher Grade Physics and Mathematics (at Grade A or higher) or equivalent.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 30, Online Activities 11, Summative Assessment Hours 18, Revision Session Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 20 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Degree Examination, 60%
Laboratory, 20%
Coursework, 20%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of introductory physics topics.
  2. Solve problems in a range of introductory physics topics.
  3. Communicate physics ideas effectively through verbal, written, graphical and mathematical means.
  4. Demonstrate self-organised study skills.
  5. Demonstrate experimental, record-keeping, data analysis and error analysis skills.
Reading List
Principles of Physics; Twelfth edition; authors: Halliday, Resnick, Walker; publisher: Wiley
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Problem solving, group working, communication (written and verbal), time and resource management, gathering and organising information, creativity, practical and experimental skills, data analysis skills.
Additional Class Delivery Information Laboratory sessions three hours per week, as arranged. Tutorials two hours per week, as arranged.
Course organiserProf Victoria Martin
Tel: (0131 6)51 7042
Course secretaryMs Dipti Dineshwar
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