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PH20067: Thermal physics (WL)

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2015/6
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Physics
Further information on credits Credits: 6
Further information on unit levels Level: Intermediate (FHEQ level 5)
Further information on teaching periods Period: Semester 1
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: EX 85%, PR 15%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Examination (EX 85%)
  • Practical (PR 15%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment: PH20067 - Mandatory Extra Work (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites: Before taking this module you must take PH10007 AND take PH10008 AND take PH10052
Further information on descriptions Description: Aims:
The aims of this unit are to develop a sound understanding of the concepts of classical thermodynamics and their application to physical processes and to introduce the concepts of statistical mechanics, showing how one builds from an elementary treatment based on a description of microstates to a discussion of Fermi and Bose systems.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this unit the student should be able to:
* define and understand thermodynamic terms such as temperature, equilibrium, function of state, reversibility;
* understand and apply the 1st and 2nd laws;
* define entropy and the common thermodynamic potentials and understand their importance to phase changes;
* appreciate the need for a microscopic approach to thermal physics and demonstrate an understanding of microstate formalism;
* derive the appropriate thermodynamic potentials from the partition function of simple models;
* calculate averages, heat capacities and other thermodynamic variables for simple models;
* describe the Fermi-Dirac, Bose-Einstein, Boltzmann and Planck distribution functions and apply them to simple models;
* conduct short experiments on various topics, record details of experimental method and results to an appropriate standard, and write a scientific report displaying an appropriate standard of structure, attention to detail and analysis.

Written communication T/F A; Numeracy T/F A; Data acquisition, handling and analysis; Information technology T/F A; Problem solving T/F A; Working as part of a group T/F; Practical laboratory skills T/F A.

Overview (1 hour): Macroscopic and microscopic approaches to thermal physics.
Classical thermodynamics (8 hours): Basic thermodynamic concepts. The second law of thermodynamics. Entropy. Analytical thermodynamics; application to phase changes.
Statistical mechanics (8 hours): Microstates and macrostates of an isolated system, density of states, partition function. Principle of equal a priori probabilities; entropy, equilibrium and the second law. Systems in thermal contact with heat reservoir; the Boltzmann distribution. Canonical ensemble. Free energy minimisation.
Systems of weakly interacting constituents (2 hours): Ideal gas and indistinguishability. Equipartition theorem. Maxwellian gas.
Quantum gases (2 hours): Indistinguishability. Fermions and bosons. Low density limit.
Systems with variable particle number (1 hour): Grand canonical distribution; chemical potential.
Laboratory: Performance of experiments designed further to develop practical skills and support lecture material.
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

PH20067 is Optional on the following programmes:

Programmes in Natural Sciences
  • UXXX-AFB01 : BSc(Hons) Natural Sciences (Year 2)
  • UXXX-AAB02 : BSc(Hons) Natural Sciences with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • UXXX-AKB02 : BSc(Hons) Natural Sciences with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • UXXX-AFM01 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences (Year 2)
  • UXXX-AKM02 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences with Professional Placement (Year 2)
  • UXXX-AAM02 : MSci(Hons) Natural Sciences with Study year abroad (Year 2)
Department of Physics
  • USXX-AFB03 : BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physics (Year 2)
  • USXX-AAB04 : BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • USXX-AKB04 : BSc(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Year long work placement (Year 2)
  • USXX-AFM01 : MSci(Hons) Mathematics and Physics (Year 2)
  • USXX-AAM01 : MSci(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Study year abroad (Year 2)
  • USXX-AKM01 : MSci(Hons) Mathematics and Physics with Year long work placement (Year 2)

* This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2015/16 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2016/17 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2015/16.
* Programmes and units are subject to change at any time, in accordance with normal University procedures.
* Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.