your adventure in

Physics and Astronomy

View PDF

Physics and astronomy are basic natural sciences which attempt to describe and provide an understanding of both our world and our universe. Physics serves as the underpinning of many different disciplines including the other natural sciences and technological areas. Graduates are proficient in the methods of rigorous scientific analysis, relevant mathematical techniques, and modern computational and laboratory methods. They have a broad knowledge of physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, and modern physics. They are able to communicate clearly and effectively at general and technical levels. They are prepared to pursue a wide range of careers as a professional physicist, astronomer, or science educator. They are also prepared to pursue advanced studies and careers in areas as diverse as engineering, medicine, law, and business administration. Many opportunities exist for students who terminate their studies with a bachelor’s degree, especially when combined with technology studies in other areas. Students who meet the necessary scholastic standards often continue their studies in a graduate college, exploring and contributing to new developments in the field.

The department normally expects each student majoring in physics to complete at least the following courses:

PHYS 241Principles and Symmetries in Classical Physics I5
PHYS 242Principles and Symmetries in Classical Physics II5
PHYS 321Introduction to Modern Physics I3
PHYS 321LIntroductory Laboratory in Modern Physics I1
PHYS 322Introduction to Modern Physics II3
PHYS 322LIntroductory Laboratory in Modern Physics II1
PHYS 304Thermal Physics3
PHYS 310Electronic Instrumentation for Experimental Physics4
PHYS 361Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 362Intermediate Mechanics3
PHYS 364Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYS 365Electricity and Magnetism II3
PHYS 480Quantum Mechanics I3
MATH 207Matrices and Linear Algebra (or)3
or
MATH 317Theory of Linear Algebra4
and 2 credits of laboratory work chosen from2
Intermediate Laboratory
Intermediate Laboratory for Secondary Physics Teachers
Applied Physics Laboratory
or
Astronomy Laboratory
and at least 3 credits chosen from
ASTRO 342Introduction to Solar System Astronomy3
ASTRO 346Introduction to Astrophysics3
ASTRO 405Astrophysical Cosmology3
PHYS 421Ultrafast Laser Science and Spectroscopy3
PHYS 432Molecular and Cell Biophysics3
PHYS 461Physics of Biomolecules3
PHYS 481Quantum Mechanics II3
PHYS 496Modern Optics3
PHYS 511Condensed Matter Physics I3
PHYS 526Particle and Nuclear Physics4
PHYS 528Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences3
PHYS 531Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 534Symmetry and Group Theory in Physics3
PHYS 541General Relativity3
*PHYS 221 and PHYS 222 may be substituted for PHYS 241 and PHYS 242.

All students are required to earn at least 6 credits in laboratory work in physics in addition to the laboratory components of PHYS 241 and PHYS 242. These 6 credits must be in courses numbered 304 or higher or in approved substitutions. All students must earn at least 35 credits in physics and astronomy courses numbered 304 or higher. The basic list of expected courses is not a rigid requirement and changes in this basic list will be approved by the department curriculum committee on recommendation of the student’s adviser when such changes will better serve the student’s needs. In particular, students planning a physics major and also seeking certification for high school teaching may, with the approval of their adviser, follow a significantly different program designed to meet their particular needs; these students should consult the department for further information. Further information concerning programs of study, including sample degree programs, is available from the department.

Students majoring in physics who wish an emphasis in astronomy/astrophysics should consider a minor in astronomy. Those planning graduate work in physics or astronomy/astrophysics should choose the option PHYS 481 from the list above. Another useful course is:

STAT 447Statistical Theory for Research Workers4

The expected outcomes for students in these programs are:

  1. a broad knowledge of physics, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, wave motion and modern physics
  2. proficiency in laboratory methods
  3. proficiency in modern scientific computational methods
  4. a sound foundation in the liberal arts including proficiency in communication skills.

In addition to the performance on exams and course grades, information on evaluating of the success in meeting these goals is obtained by:

  1. an annual written survey of all students majoring in the program
  2. an annual written survey of all graduating seniors
  3. a periodic written survey of program alumni
  4. student evaluations of all courses
  5. adviser evaluations
  6. a bimonthly meeting of program majors with the department chair

Communication Proficiency Requirement: The department requires a grade of C or better in ENGL 250 (or ENGL 250H), and a C– or better in ENGL 302, ENGL 305, ENGL 309 or ENGL 314. Students are also encouraged to study at least one foreign language.

Physics Plus: The Physics Plus option is for students who wish to establish a clear strength in a field of application of physics.  This program makes double majors more feasible and is appropriate for students who plan on employment in applied physics.  It is not intended for students who plan on graduate study in physics.  For more information, see the physics department web site or consult an adviser in physics.

The department offers a minor in physics which may be earned by completing 20 credits in physics courses chosen as follows:

PHYS 241Principles and Symmetries in Classical Physics I5
PHYS 242Principles and Symmetries in Classical Physics II5
PHYS 321Introduction to Modern Physics I3
One of the following
Introductory Laboratory in Modern Physics I
Introductory Laboratory in Modern Physics II
Electronic Instrumentation for Experimental Physics
Intermediate Laboratory
Intermediate Laboratory for Secondary Physics Teachers
Other acceptable courses
Thermal Physics
Physics of Wave Motion
Introduction to Modern Physics II
Classical Mechanics
Intermediate Mechanics
Electricity and Magnetism I
Electricity and Magnetism II
Ultrafast Laser Science and Spectroscopy
Molecular and Cell Biophysics
Physics of Biomolecules
Quantum Mechanics I
Quantum Mechanics II
Modern Optics
*PHYS 221 and PHYS 222 may be substituted for PHYS 241 and PHYS 242

The department offers a minor in astronomy which may be earned by completing 15 credits chosen as follows:

ASTRO courses *12-15
3 credits from the following (if only 12 Astro credits)3
Thermal Physics
Introduction to Modern Physics I
Classical Mechanics
Intermediate Mechanics
Electricity and Magnetism I
Electricity and Magnetism II
Quantum Mechanics I
Quantum Mechanics II
Modern Optics
Astrodynamics I
*

must include ASTRO 344L Astronomy Laboratory and may include one of the courses ASTRO 120 The Sky and the Solar System, ASTRO 150 Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology or ASTRO 250 Astronomy Bizarre

12 or more credits must be at the 300 level or higher. Note that only ASTRO 344L may be used to satisfy both the requirements of a physics major and an astronomy minor.

Physics, B.S

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ENGL 1503PHYS 2425
PHYS 1990MATH 2654
PHYS 2415Social Science Choice3
MATH 1664Natural Science Choice5
Humanities Choice3 
LIB 1601 
 16 17
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ENGL 2503PHYS 3613
PHYS 3213PHYS 3223
PHYS 321L1PHYS 322L1
MATH 2674MATH 3853
Humanities Choice3Social Science Choice3
 Humanities Choice3
 14 16
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 3623PHYS 3043
PHYS 3643PHYS 3653
ENGL 302, 305, 309, or 3143PHYS 3890
MATH 317 or 2074-3Social Science Choice3
Foreign Language (or Elective)4-3Humanites Choice3
 Foreign Language (or Elective)4-3
 17-15 16-15
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PHYS 3104PHYS 31112
PHYS 4803PHYS 48123
Elective3Elective3
ASTRO 344L13Elective3
 Elective3
 13 14
1

Students must earn a minimum of two laboratory credits from PHYS 311, 311T, 450l, ASTRO 344L, or 450L.

2

Recommended by not required. Highly recommended for those students planning gradate study.

Students in all ISU majors must complete a three-credit course in U.S. diversity and a three-credit course in international perspectives. Check (http://www.registrar.iastate.edu/courses/div-ip-guide.html) for a list of approved courses. Discuss with your adviser how the two courses that you select can be applied to your graduation plan.

LAS majors require a minimum of 120 credits, including a minimum of 45 credits at the 300/400 level. You must also complete the LAS foreign language requirement.

Graduate Study

The department offers studies for the degrees master of science and doctor of philosophy with majors at both levels in applied physics, astrophysics, condensed matter physics, high energy physics, nuclear physics, and physics; and minor credit courses for students majoring in other departments.

Facilities of various research groups of the department, the Ames Laboratory, and the Applied Science Center, including the Microelectronics Research Center, are available for research.

Students with bachelor’s degrees in physics or astronomy from other institutions ordinarily will qualify for graduate study at Iowa State provided they have satisfactorily completed course work similar to that suggested for undergraduate majors here intending to go on to graduate school. In some cases additional instruction at the intermediate level may be required.

Graduates have a broad understanding of physical science, as well as mastery of state-of-the-art methods in their area of specialization. They are able to communicate effectively to a wide range of audiences, from the general public to research colleagues. Their skills in rigorous scientific thinking prepare them for leadership in the broader community. They are skilled in carrying out research, communicating research results, and soliciting research support. They have considerable teaching experience. They have developed problem solving skills that prepare them for careers in either industry or academia.

All candidates for an advanced degree in physics are expected to complete:

PHYS 531Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 564Advanced Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 571Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYS 572Electricity and Magnetism II3
PHYS 591Quantum Physics I4
PHYS 592Quantum Physics II4

Candidates for an advanced degree in applied physics are expected to complete:

PHYS 571Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYS 591Quantum Physics I4
PHYS 470LApplied Physics Laboratory2-5
PHYS 699Researcharr †
PHYS 572Electricity and Magnetism II3
or PHYS 531 Statistical Mechanics
† Arranged with instructor.

Candidates for an advanced degree in astrophysics should complete:

PHYS 531Statistical Mechanics3
PHYS 564Advanced Classical Mechanics3
PHYS 571Electricity and Magnetism I3
PHYS 591Quantum Physics I4
ASTRO 505Astrophysical Cosmology3
ASTRO 510Observational Astrophysics3

Astrophysics Ph.D. candidates must take at least three of the 580 level Astro courses, while candidates for the Research Masters must take at least two 580 level Astro courses.

Except for the applied physics major where a thesis is always required, the degree master of science is offered both with and without thesis. For all areas of study except applied physics the basic requirements for the M.S. are the same: at least 30 credits of acceptable graduate work must be completed, not less than 21 of which must be in physics or astronomy. Students must complete not less than 6 credits from outside their major area, with 3 credits being required from outside the department, and 3 credits from a 500 or 600 level course in another area of specialization. Students choosing a M.S. degree with thesis may apply up to 8 credits of 699 but no credits of 599 toward the minimum 30 credits. Students choosing a degree without thesis should apply 2 credits of 599, but may not apply any credits of 699 toward the minimum 30 credits.

Students whose major area is applied physics must complete at least 30 credits of acceptable graduate work for the M.S. degree and not less than 19 credits of these must be in the required courses listed above; the remaining 11 credits of the 30 credit minimum may be chosen freely either from within the student’s major area or from without and either from the department or outside, but it should be noted that not more than 3 credits of PHYS 699 Research may be applied toward the 30 credit minimum.

In addition to course work in the major area of study, all candidates for the Ph.D. degree must complete 12 credits from outside this area. Of these 6 must be taken from other departments and 6 must be taken from the department with the additional constraint that this latter 6 must include at least one 500 or 600 level introductory course in another area of specialization. Each candidate for the Ph.D. degree is required to teach one year of elementary physics or astronomy.

Graduate students interested in a physics minor should contact the department for requirements.

Expand all courses

Astronomy and Astrophysics Courses

Courses primarily for undergraduates:

Cr. 1. F.S.


An entirely web-based course covering topics in observing the sky and navigation by the stars for students with little or no previous experience. The course combines material on common naked-eye phenomena, such as daily and seasonal variations in the sky, with information on how these helped navigators determine where they are on Earth. The course "lectures" are on-line, interactive units with build in exercises, hands-on (offline) activities and layers of help. Graded homework and quizzes are administered via Blackboard Learn. Students who take Astro 120 may count credit in only one of Astro 102 or 103 toward graduation.

Cr. 1. F.S.


An entirely web-based course covering topics in celestial mechanics ("Rocket science!") for students with little or no previous experience. It combines the geography of the solar system with discussion of methods of traveling to the other planets. The course "lectures" are on-line, interactive units with built-in exercises, hands-on (offline) activities, and layers of help. Graded homework and quizzes are administered via Blackboard Learn. Students who take Astro 120 may count credit in only one of Astro 102 or 103 toward graduation.

(Cross-listed with GEOL). (2-0) Cr. 2. F.S.

Prereq: Major in elementary or early childhood education.
Fundamental concepts of Earth and Space Science, including the solar system, weather and climate, water and soils, plate tectonics, and geologic hazards. Online course format.

(Cross-listed with GEOL). (0-2) Cr. 1. F.S.

Prereq: Restricted to elementary and early childhood education majors; to be taken concurrently with GEOL 106/ASTRO 106
Inquiry-based lab exploring fundamental concepts of Earth and Space Science, including the solar system, weather and climate, water and soils, plate tectonics, and geologic hazards. Must be taken concurrently with GEOL/ASTRO 106.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.SS.


For the nonscientist. A survey of our view of the universe, and the exploration of the solar system and beyond. The sky: constellations; motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets; seasons and the calendar; eclipses. The solar system: origin and evolution; characteristics of the Sun, planets, satellites, comets, meteorites, and asteroids. The detection and characterization of other solar systems, and the search for life in the universe. Extensive use of the planetarium is included. Students who take Astro 120 may count credit in only one of Astro 102 or 103 toward graduation.

(0-2) Cr. 1. F.S.

Prereq: Concurrent or previous enrollment in ASTRO 120
Laboratory course to accompany ASTRO 120. Students carry out practical exercises involving naked eye and telescopic observing to explore and reinforce ideas covered in ASTRO 120. Activities based on a sky-simulation computer program and other weather-independent exercises are also included.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.


For the nonscientist. A survey of astronomy with a focus on the universe beyond our solar system. Basic observational astronomy and the history of astronomy. Stellar astronomy: motions, distances, sizes, spectra; types of stars; variability; binary systems. Stellar evolution: the birth, life, and death of stars, including supernovae, neutron stars, and black holes. The structure and evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy. Other galaxies, clusters of galaxies, quasars. Theories of the origin of the universe.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: ASTRO 120 or ASTRO 150
For the nonscientist. A small enrollment course examining new and exciting topics in modern astronomy. Galaxy and star formation. Black holes and pulsars. Colliding galaxies. Quasars. Dark Matter. Dark energy. Quasars. Cosmology, the Big Bang and the future of the universe. Prospects and searches for extraterrestrial life.

Cr. 1-4. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222
An introduction to the physics of the Solar System and the planetary systems discovered around other stars. General characteristics of planetary systems: dynamics, thermodynamics, internal and surface structure of planets and minor bodies, physics of their atmosphere. Discovery techniques and characterization of extrasolar planets, and planetary systems formation models. "Grand tour" of the Solar System, using data and imagery from probes and telescopes that have visited these worlds. The origin and evolution of life on Earth, and the ongoing search for life in the Solar System and elsewhere in the universe.

(1-6) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222
Experiments in optical astronomy. Observational techniques, ranging from stellar photometry to CCD imaging. Data processing and analysis techniques. Astronomical software packages and online databases and resources. Available instruments include a variety of small telescopes and astronomical CCD cameras.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 222
An exploration of the universe beyond our Solar System, with emphasis on the astrophysics of stars and galaxies. Observable properties of stars, physics of stellar atmospheres and interiors. Birth, evolution and death of stars, to understand the past and future of our Sun, the Milky Way galaxy and the other galaxies in the universe. Basic concepts of cosmology, dark matter and dark energy. Use of computer models to calculate the structure and evolution of stars and protostars, and to analyze actual astronomical data obtained by professional astronomers.

(Dual-listed with ASTRO 505). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: ASTRO 346 or permission of instructor
Introduction to modern cosmology and large-scale structure; mathematical and observational fundamentals associated with the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. Scale of the Universe, Hubble's Law, the cosmic microwave background, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, the origin of elements, dark energy and the accelerating universe, and dark matter. For senior undergraduates and graduate students in all areas of physics.

Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Research under supervision of astronomy faculty.

Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: ASTRO 344L and permission of instructor
Laboratory or observational project under supervision of astronomy faculty.

Cr. 1-4. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits.

Prereq: 6 credits in astronomy, permission of instructor
No more than 9 credits of Astro 490 may be counted toward graduation.

Cr. 1-4. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits.

Prereq: 6 credits in astronomy, permission of instructor
No more than 9 credits of Astro 490 may be counted toward graduation.

Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

(Dual-listed with ASTRO 405). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: ASTRO 346 or permission of instructor
Introduction to modern cosmology and large-scale structure; mathematical and observational fundamentals associated with the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. Scale of the Universe, Hubble's Law, the cosmic microwave background, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, the origin of elements, dark energy and the accelerating universe, and dark matter. For senior undergraduates and graduate students in all areas of physics.

(2-3) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered odd-numbered years.

Prereq: ASTRO 405 or ASTRO 505 or permission of instructor
Techniques in optical and near-IR astronomy, including spectroscopy and CCD photometry. Emphasis on projects involving proficiency in the use of research telescopes and modern instrumentation. Project topics range from photometric studies of pulsating and binary star systems to deep CCD imaging of faint nebulae and galaxies.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered odd-numbered years.

Prereq: ASTRO 405 or ASTRO 505 or permission of the instructor
The interior structure and atmospheric properties of stars: Stellar structure equations and constitutive relations: energy generation, energy transport by radiation and convection; equation of state, nuclear energy generation and nucleosynthesis. Numerical and analytic solutions to the equations of structure and evolution. Observational connections through the theory of radiative transfer. Line and continuum processes and sources of opacity. Non-LTE and statistical equilibrium. Line profiles. Interpretation of stellar spectra: temperature, pressure, and abundance determinations. Stellar evolution from formation to final phases.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered even-numbered years.

Prereq: ASTRO 405 or ASTRO 505 or permission of the instructor
Interactions of high-energy particles, non-thermal radiation processes, spectral evolution of non-thermal systems, cosmic rays, active galactic nuclei, pulsars, neutrinos, measurement techniques for relativistic charged particles, high energy photons, and neutrinos.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered even-numbered years.

Prereq: ASTRO 405 or ASTRO 505 or permission of instructor
Overall structure of our Galaxy and the interstellar medium. Physical processes in the interstellar medium (e.g., heating and cooling mechanisms, turbulence). Observational techniques for studying the interstellar medium. Kinematics and chemical evolution of the Galaxy.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered odd-numbered years.

Prereq: ASTRO 405 or ASTRO 505 or permission of the instructor
Galaxy evolution, dynamics of external galaxies, evolution and classification of galaxies, groups and clusters of galaxies, extragalactic radio sources, quasars, structure formation, cosmological models and their observational consequences.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.


Cr. arr.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Individually directed study of research-level problems for students electing the nonthesis M.S. option in astronomy.

Courses for graduate students:

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest in astronomy and astrophysics. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered even-numbered years.

Prereq: ASTRO 580 or permission of instructor
Advanced topics in stellar astrophysics. Dynamic and extended atmospheres, chromospheres, coronae, and stellar winds. MHD, stellar activity, and dynamo theory. Radiative transfer and the transition from extended atmospheres to the interstellar medium. Diffusive processes in stellar atmospheres and interiors. Techniques for quantitative analysis of planetary and stellar spectra including detailed modeling and spectrum synthesis. Evolution in interacting binaries. Nucleosynthesis II. Variable stars. Supernovae. Neutron stars and black holes.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.


Physics Courses

Courses primarily for undergraduates:

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.S.


Survey of the principal areas of both classical and modern physics. Emphasis on the nature of the physical universe and the application of physical principles to life in the modern world. Not suitable to meet a general physics requirement for natural science majors.

(Cross-listed with CHEM). (1-4) Cr. 3. F.S.

Prereq: MATH 195 or MATH 140
Physical science principles for future elementary teachers. Emphasis on experiments that address current elementary science education standards and that are appropriate for their future students to do, such as measurements of mass, length, time, light from atoms, charge and current, motion due to forces, energy and work, heat, waves, optics, building bridges and making musical instruments, studying states of matter and chemical reactions.

(4-2) Cr. 5. F.S.SS.

Prereq: 1 1/2 years of high school algebra, 1 year of geometry, 1 semester of trigonometry
General background in physical concepts, principles, and methods for those who do not plan advanced study in physics or engineering. Mechanics, fluids, heat and thermodynamics, vibrations, waves, sound.

(4-2) Cr. 5. F.S.SS.

Prereq: PHYS 111
General background in physical concepts, principles, and methods for those who do not plan advanced study in physics or engineering. Electricity and magnetism, ray and wave optics, topics in modern physics.

(4-0) Cr. 4. F.S.

Prereq: high school: 1 1/2 yr. algebra, 1 yr. geometry, 1 semester trigonometry
Emphasis on basic physics principles applied to biological problems. Topics include mechanics, fluids, thermodynamics, heat, light, sound, electricity and magnetism. A coordinated laboratory, Physics 115 laboratory is available.

(0-2) Cr. 1. F.S.


Experiments related to the elementary topics of physics for the life sciences. Mechanics, fluids, thermodynamics, heat, light, sound, electricity and magnetism.

(2-2) Cr. 3. F.


Introductory level course on sound for nonphysics majors. Properties of pure tones and harmonics; human perception of sound; room acoustics; scales; production, and analysis of musical by voice, string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. Not suitable to meet a general physics requirement for natural science majors

Cr. R. F.


(1-1) Gain experience in key skills that physicists/astronomers use routinely, but are rarely explicitly taught in formal courses. Participate in faculty-led discussions on frontier areas and careers. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(4.5-1) Cr. 5. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Proficiency in algebra, trigonometry, vector manipulation, and topics covered in MATH 165, and credit or enrollment in MATH 166.
For engineering and science majors. 3 hours of lecture each week plus 3 recitations and 1 laboratory every 2 weeks. Elementary mechanics including kinematics and dynamics of particles, work and energy, linear and angular momentum, conservation laws, rotational motion, oscillations, gravitation. Heat, thermodynamics, kinetic theory of gases; waves and sound.

(4.5-1) Cr. 5. F.S.

Prereq: Proficiency in algebra, trigonometry, vector manipulation, and topics covered in MATH 165, and credit or enrollment in MATH 166.
For engineering and science majors. 3 hours of lecture each week plus 3 recitations and 1 laboratory every 2 weeks. Elementary mechanics including kinematics and dynamics of particles, work and energy, linear and angular momentum, conservation laws, rotational motion, oscillations, gravitation. Heat, thermodynamics, kinetic theory of gases; waves and sound.

(4-2) Cr. 5. F.S.SS.

Prereq: PHYS 221 OR PHYS 241, MATH 166
3 hours of lecture each week plus 1 recitation and 1 laboratory each week. Electric forces and fields. Electrical currents; DC circuits. Magnetic forces and fields: LR, LC, LCR circuits; Maxwell's equations; ray optics and image formation; wave optics; topics in modern physics.

(4-2) Cr. 5. F.S.

Prereq: PHYS 221 OR PHYS 241, MATH 166
3 hours of lecture each week plus 1 recitation and 1 laboratory each week. Electric forces and fields. Electrical currents; DC circuits. Magnetic forces and fields: LR, LC, LCR circuits; Maxwell's equations; ray optics and image formation; wave optics; topics in modern physics.

(4.5-1) Cr. 5. F.

Prereq: Proficiency in algebra, trigonometry, vector manipulation, and topics covered in MATH 165, and credit or enrollment in MATH 166.
Covers all of mechanics; Kinematics and dynamics of particles, work and energy, linear and angular momentum, conservation laws, rotational motion, oscillations, gravitation, and extremum principles. Topics in kinetic theory, thermodynamics, waves and sound.

(4.5-1) Cr. 5. F.

Prereq: Proficiency in algebra, trigonometry, vector manipulation, and topics covered in MATH 165, and credit or enrollment in MATH 166.
Covers all of mechanics; Kinematics and dynamics of particles, work and energy, linear and angular momentum, conservation laws, rotational motion, oscillations, gravitation, and extremum principles. Topics in kinetic theory, thermodynamics, waves and sound.

(4-2) Cr. 5. S.

Prereq: PHYS 221 or PHYS 241, credit or enrollment in MATH 166
Electrostatics, potentials and fields, currents, fields of moving charges, the magnetic field, electromagnetic induction, DC and AC circuits, Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic waves, electric and magnetic fields in matter. Topics in optics, special relativity and modern physics.

(4-2) Cr. 5. S.

Prereq: PHYS 221 or PHYS 241, credit or enrollment in MATH 166
Electrostatics, potentials and fields, currents, fields of moving charges, the magnetic field, electromagnetic induction, DC and AC circuits, Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic waves, electric and magnetic fields in matter. Topics in optics, special relativity and modern physics.

Cr. 1-4. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor

Cr. R. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of the department cooperative education coordinator; sophomore classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for this course prior to commencing each work period.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: Sophomore classification
A largely nonmathematical but intellectually challenging exploration of physics, which assumes no previous work in the field. Selected material from classical and modern physics establishes the conceptual framework for the study of major areas of contemporary physics, culminating in the discussion of topics at the frontier of present knowledge. Topics vary yearly and may include quarks, lasers, superconductivity, fission and fusion, solid state devices, gravitational waves, string theory, facilities, left handed materials, and quantum computing. Not suitable to meet a general physics requirement for natural science majors.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222, MATH 266
Concepts of temperature, entropy, and other characteristic thermodynamic functions, with application to macroscopic properties of matter. The laws of thermodynamics. Introduction to statistical mechanics, including quantum statistics. Application to black body radiation, crystalline vibrations, magnetic ions in solids, electronic heat capacity of metals. Phase transformations and chemical reactions.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 222, credit or enrollment in MATH 267
Oscillating systems including damped and forced oscillations; fluids, geometric optics, water waves, the wave equation, Fourier and Laplace transforms, non-uniform media, cylindrical and spherical waves, polarization, interference and diffraction, transmission lines, non-linear waves.

(2-4) Cr. 4. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222; MATH 166
Common electrical instruments; power supplies; transducers; passive and active devices, analog integrated circuits, including filters and amplifiers; digital integrated circuits; signal transmission and enhancement.

Cr. 1-2. Repeatable. S.

Prereq: PHYS 322
Experiments in classical and modern physics performed independently by each student.

(0-6) Cr. 3. Repeatable. S.

Prereq: PHYS 112 or PHYS 222
Experiments in classical and modern physics performed independently by each student. For students preparing for a career in high school teaching.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222, credit or enrollment in MATH 266
Quantum nature of matter: photons, de Broglie's postulate: wave-like properties of matter; Bohr's model of hydrogen atom; Schrodinger equations in one dimension: energy quantization; detailed solutions for potential steps, barriers and wells; one-electron atoms, spin and magnetic interactions; ground states, optical and x-ray excitations of multi-electron atoms.

(0-2) Cr. 1. F.

Prereq: Credit or enrollment in PHYS 321
Experiments related to the foundations of modern physics. The dual wave and particle character of electrons and photons, statistics, interferometry and x-ray spectroscopy.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 321
Quantum statistics; lasers; physics of molecules. Properties of solids, including electron band structure, superconductivity and magnetism. Nuclear physics, including nuclear sizes and masses, stability, decay modes, reactions, fission and fusion. Elementary particles, including strangeness, charm, and quarks. Fundamental forces of nature.

(0-2) Cr. 1. S.

Prereq: Credit or enrollment in PHYS 322
Experiments related to the foundations of modern physics. Radioactive decay, elementary particles, Hall effect, quantization, spectroscopy, statistics and instrumentation.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 222, MATH 265, credit or enrollment in MATH 266 or 267
Newtonian mechanics including forced oscillations, central forces and orbital motion, collisions, moving frames of reference, Lagrange's equations.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 361
Rigid body motion; small oscillations, normal modes. Special relativity including length contraction, time dilation, simultaneity, Lorentz transformation, 4-vector covariant formalism, relativistic mechanics.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222
Static electric and magnetic fields, potential theory; electromagnetism, Maxwell's equations.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 364, MATH 385
Relativistic electromagnetic theory; radiation and propagation of electromagnetic waves; interaction with matter.

Cr. R. S.


Recommended for all junior physics majors. Career opportunities: graduate school programs and application, job placement, alternative careers, basic skills needed for the job market competition. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

Cr. R. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of the department cooperative education coordinator; junior classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for this course prior to commencing each work period.

Cr. 1-2. Repeatable, maximum of 2 credits. F.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Review of materials and curricula for secondary school physics presented and discussed by members of the class. Required for approval to teach physics in secondary schools.

(Dual-listed with PHYS 521). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 321, PHYS 365, or equivalent with permission of instructor
Introduction to ultrafast lasers, nonlinear optics, and their applications. Topics selected from: basic optics, atom-photon interactions, electrodynamics of condensed matter, laser physics, ultrafast and nonlinear optics, ultrashort pulse generation, broadband pulse generation, time-resolved spectroscopy and instrumentation.

(Dual-listed with PHYS 532). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 304 or CHEM 325.
Quantitative description of biological systems using basic physical laws, including a brief discussion of a variety of biophysical techniques. Topics include: thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, gene expression, structure and physical properties of nucleic acids and proteins, folding of nucleic acids and proteins, chemical kinetics, catalysis, allosteric enzymes, cell membrane structure and physical properties, and machines in cell membranes.

Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Theoretical research under supervision of physics faculty.

Cr. 1-6. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: PHYS 311, permission of instructor
Laboratory project under supervision of physics faculty.

(Dual-listed with PHYS 561). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 304 or CHEM 325, BBMB 301, or permission of instructor
Cell and Molecular Biophysics. Physical techniques used to characterize the structure, dynamics and properties of biomolecules with emphasis on single molecule techniques.

Cr. 2-5. Repeatable. F.S.SS.

Prereq: PHYS 322 and permission of instructor
Studies in modern experimental techniques via experimentation and simulation in various areas of applied physics, e.g. superconductivity, optical spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron spin resonance, x-ray diffraction, and computation of electronic and structural properties of matter.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 322, MATH 385
First semester of a full-year course. A systematic development of the formalism and applications of quantum mechanics. Solutions to the time independent Schrodinger equation for various one-dimensional potentials including the harmonic oscillator; operator methods; Heisenberg picture; angular momentum; the hydrogen atom; spin; symmetry properties.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 480
Continuation of 480. Addition of angular momentum; charged particles in electromagnetic fields; time-independent perturbation theory; variational principles; WKB approximation; interaction picture; time-dependent perturbation theory; adiabatic approximation; scattering; selected topics in radiation theory; quantum paradoxes.

Cr. 1-4. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits.

Prereq: 6 credits in physics, permission of instructor
No more than 9 credits of Phys 490 may be counted toward graduation.

Cr. 1-4. Repeatable, maximum of 9 credits.

Prereq: 6 credits in physics, permission of instructor
No more than 9 credits of Phys 490 may be counted toward graduation.

(Cross-listed with E E). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: Credit or enrollment in PHYS 322, PHYS 365, and PHYS 480
Review of wave and electromagnetic theory; topics selected from: reflection/refraction, interference, geometrical optics, Fourier analysis, dispersion, coherence, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, holography, quantum optics, nonlinear optics.

Cr. R. F.S.SS.

Prereq: Permission of the department cooperative education coordinator; senior classification
Required of all cooperative education students. Students must register for this course prior to commencing each work period.

Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

(2-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.


A practical introduction to communication methods in physics and astronomy classrooms and professional settings. For graduate physics majors only. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

Cr. R. F.


(1-1) Discussion by research staff of their research areas, expected thesis research work, and opportunities in the field. For graduate physics majors only. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 304, credit or enrollment in PHYS 481
First semester of a full-year course. Free electron model; crystal symmetry; band theory of solids; transport properties; Fermi surface; phonons; semiconductors; crystal surfaces; magnetism; superconductivity.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 511
Continuation of 511. Free electron model; crystal symmetry; band theory of solids; transport properties; Fermi surface; phonons; semiconductors; crystal surfaces; magnetism; superconductivity.

(Dual-listed with PHYS 421). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 321, PHYS 365, or equivalent with permission of instructor
Introduction to ultrafast lasers, nonlinear optics, and their applications. Topics selected from: basic optics, atom-photon interactions, electrodynamics of condensed matter, laser physics, ultrafast and nonlinear optics, ultrashort pulse generation, broadband pulse generation, time-resolved spectroscopy and instrumentation.

(4-0) Cr. 4. F.

Prereq: Credit or enrollment in PHYS 481
Basic properties and structures of nuclei, hadrons, and elementary particles; weak and strong interactions; the Standard Model; accelerators and detectors; nuclear models; nuclear decay and stability; nuclear astrophysics; the Higgs mechanism; the CKM matrix; running coupling constants; relativistic heavy-ion collisions; selected topics beyond the standard model such as SUSY and grand unification.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: MATH 266 or MATH 267
Fast-paced coverage of mathematical techniques needed for advanced analysis in the physical sciences, particularly for quantum mechanics and electrodynamics. Linear vector spaces and operators. Linear differential equations for time-evolution and steady-state problems, Green's functions and propagators, Sturm-Liouville problems. Functions of a complex variable, calculus of residues, series expansions, integral transforms and applications.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 304 and credit or enrollment in PHYS 481, MATH 465, credit or enrollment in MATH 365 or MATH 426
Thermodynamic properties of systems of many particles obeying Boltzmann, Fermi-Dirac, and Bose-Einstein statistics; microcanonical, canonical, and grand canonical ensembles and their application to physical problems; density matrices; introduction to phase transitions; renormalization group theory; kinetic theory and fluctuations.

(Dual-listed with PHYS 432). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 304 or CHEM 325.
Quantitative description of biological systems using basic physical laws, including a brief discussion of a variety of biophysical techniques. Topics include: thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, gene expression, structure and physical properties of nucleic acids and proteins, folding of nucleic acids and proteins, chemical kinetics, catalysis, allosteric enzymes, cell membrane structure and physical properties, and machines in cell membranes.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: Credit or enrollment in PHYS 481
Theory of groups and group representations; introduction to both point and continuous groups, and their applications in physics.

(Cross-listed with E E). (3-3) Cr. 4.

Prereq: E E 311 and E E 332
Basic elements of quantum theory, Fermi statistics, motion of electrons in periodic structures, crystal structure, energy bands, equilibrium carrier concentration and doping, excess carriers and recombination, carrier transport at low and high fields, space charge limited current, photo-conductivity in solids, phonons, optical properties, amorphous semiconductors, heterostructures, and surface effects. Laboratory experiments on optical properties, carrier lifetimes, mobility, defect density, doping density, photo-conductivity, diffusion length of carriers.

(Cross-listed with E E). (3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: E E 535
P-n junctions, band-bending theory, tunneling phenomena, Schottky barriers, heterojunctions, bipolar transistors, field-effect transistors, negative-resistance devices and optoelectronic devices.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 362, MATH 307 or MATH 317
Tensor analysis and differential geometry developed and used to formulate Einstein field equations. Schwarzschild and Kerr solutions. Other advanced topics may include gravitational radiation, particle production by gravitational fields, alternate gravitational theories, attempts at unified field theories, cosmology.

(0-4) Cr. 2. S.

Prereq: PHYS 365, credit or enrollment in PHYS 481
Use of modern computational techniques to analyze topics in classical and modern physics. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(Dual-listed with PHYS 461). (3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 304 or CHEM 325, BBMB 301, or permission of instructor
Cell and Molecular Biophysics. Physical techniques used to characterize the structure, dynamics and properties of biomolecules with emphasis on single molecule techniques.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 362, MATH 426, MATH 465
Variational principles, Lagrange's equations, Hamilton's canonical equations, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory, infinitesimal transformations, classical field theory, canonical perturbation theory, classical chaos.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 365, MATH 426
Electrostatics, magnetostatics, boundary value problems, Maxwell's equations, wave phenomena in macroscopic media, wave guides.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 571
Special theory of relativity, least action and motion of charged particles in electromagnetic fields, radiation, collisions between charged particles, multipole fields, radiation damping.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Topics of current interest.

(4-0) Cr. 4. F.

Prereq: PHYS 481
First semester of a full-year course. Postulates of quantum mechanics; time-dependent and time-independent Schrodinger equations for one-,two-, and three-dimensional systems; theory of angular momentum; Rayleigh-Schrodinger time-independent perturbation theory.

(4-0) Cr. 4. S.

Prereq: PHYS 591
Continuation of 591. Variational theorem and WKB method; time-dependent perturbation theory and 2nd quantization of the EM field in Coulomb gauge; method of partial waves and Born approximation for scattering by central potentials; identical particles and symmetry; Dirac and Klein-Gordon equation for free particles; path integral formalism.

Cr. arr.

Prereq: Permission of instructor
Individually directed study of research-level problems for students electing the nonthesis M.S. degree option.

Courses for graduate students:

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 512 and PHYS 681 or permission of instructor.
Quasiparticles in condensed matter: phonons, magnons, photons, electrons. Quantum theory of interacting many body systems: Green's functions and diagrammatic techniques.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: PHYS 526 and PHYS 592
Microscopic few-body and many-body theory; theory of effective Hamiltonians; relativistic nuclear physics; nuclear effects in hadron-nucleus, lepton-nucleus, and nucleus-nucleus reactions.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: PHYS 681
Quark model; Quantum Chromodynamics IQCD); perturbation methods for QCD; effective field theories for pions and nucleons; finite temperature field theories; quark-gluon plasma; phase transitions in QCD.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: PHYS 526 and PHYS 592
First semester of a full year course. Properties of leptons, bosons, and quarks and their interactions; quantum chromodynamics, Glashow-Weinberg-Salam model, grand unification theories, supersymmetry; modern theoretical techniques and tests of the Standard Model.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: PHYS 637
Continuation of 637. Properties of leptons, bosons, and quarks and their interactions; quantum chromodynamics, Glashow-Weinberg-Salam model, grand unification theories, supersymmetry, and superstring theory; modern theoretical techniques.

(Cross-listed with MATH). (3-0) Cr. 3. S.


Modeling of the dynamics of complex systems on multiple scales: Classical and dissipative molecular dynamics, stochastic modeling and Monte-Carlo simulation; coarse grained nonlinear dynamics, interface propagation and spatial pattern formation.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.


Topics of current interest. Offered on a satisfactory-fail basis only.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.


Courses on advanced topics and recent developments.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.


Courses on advanced topics and recent developments.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.


Courses on advanced topics and recent developments.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.


Courses on advanced topics and recent developments.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.


Courses on advanced topics and recent developments.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable. F.S.


Courses on advanced topics and recent developments.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 564, PHYS 572, PHYS 592
Quantization of fields (canonical and path integral); Feynman rules; introduction to gauge theories; Quantum Electrodynamics; radiative corrections; renormalization and renormalization group.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered even-numbered years.

Prereq: PHYS 681
Continuation of 681. Systematics of renormalization; renormalization group methods; symmetries; spontaneous symmetry breaking; non-abelian gauge theories; the Standard Model and beyond; special topics.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.

Prereq: Instructor permission required.
Graduate research.