Descriptions of courses required for the Physics major


Physics 17: Modern Physics

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Physics 1A, 1B, and 1C (or 1AH, 1BH, and 1CH). Corequisite: Physics 32. Photons, black-body radiation, photoelectric effect, uncertainty principle, Bohr atom, Schrödinger equation, hydrogen atom, and selected topics in atomic, solid-state, nuclear, and particle physics. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“Modern Physics,” Serway, Moses, and Moyer (3rd ed., 2005)

Week Topics Chapters
1Black-body radiation, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering 3
2Rutherford atom, Bohr’s model 4
3De Broglie matter wave, uncertainty principle, wave-particle duality5
4Schrödinger equation, wave packets, particle in a box, finite quantum well6
5Harmonic oscillator, tunneling6,7
6SE in 3D, particle in a 3D box, hydrogen atom, Zeeman effect, electron spin 8,9
7Atomic: L-S coupling, many-e atom, exclusion principle9
8Solids: structure and binding, free-electron model of metal, semiconductor12
9Nuclear binding and structure, radioactivity, fission, fusion13
10Particles and interactions, accelerators/detectors, quarks/gluons, standard model15

Learning outcomes: Advancing the knowledge of modern physics concepts and phenomena. The knowledge gained in a collection of modern physics topics will enable a better understanding of a range of applications in modern science and technology. The acquired analytical skills will also facilitate subsequent undergraduate research experience.


Physics 32: Mathematical Methods

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Physics 1A, 1B, and 1C (or 1AH, 1BH, and 1CH), Mathematics 32A/B and 33A. Corequisite: Mathematics 33B. Vectors and fields; operators and transformations; matrices, tensors, and differential forms; ordinary differential equations and integral theorems; Fourier transform. P/NP or letter grading.

This course is currently listed as Physics 131 (as of May 2021).

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“Mathematical Methods for Physicists,” Arfken, Weber, and Harris (7th ed., 2013)

Week Topics Chapters
1Linear algebra 2
2Vector analysis 3
3Differential operators and integral theorems3
4Tensors and differential forms (optional)4
5Vector spaces and linear operators5
6Matrix eigenvalues and diagonalization 6
7Ordinary differential equations7
8Fourier series19
9Integral (Fourier/Laplace) transforms20
10(bonus) Transformations and symmetries in physics17

Learning outcomes: Developing proficiency in a broad range of mathematical methods that are applicable to a variety of physics problems in classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and thermal physics. The acquired mathematics skills will prepare students to succeed in the upper division physics core curriculum.


Physics 105A: Classical Mechanics

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisite: Physics 32. Newtonian mechanics and conservation laws, gravitational potentials, calculus of variations, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics, central force motion, linear and nonlinear oscillations. Grading: P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“Classical Dynamics,” Thornton and Marion (5th ed., 2003)

Week Topics Chapters
1Newton laws, projectile 1,2
2Conservation laws: Energy, momentum, angular momentum 2
3Oscillations3
4Calculus of variation, Lagrangian6
5Lagrangian formalism, generalized coordinates7
6Conserved quantities, Hamiltonians 7
7Phase space, Liouville theorem7
8Gravitation, central force5,8
9Two-body, celestial mechanics8
10(bonus) Nonlinear dynamical systems, chaos4

Learning outcomes: Ability to apply knowledge of classical mechanics to understand and analyze a broad variety of physical phenomena. Understanding and applying Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism to describe dynamical systems.


Physics 105B: Classical Mechanics

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisite: Physics 105A. Conserved quantities, collisions and scattering, special relativity, non-inertial reference frames, rigid bodies, coupled oscillators and normal modes. Grading: P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“Classical Dynamics,” Thornton and Marion (5th ed., 2003)

Week Topics Chapters
1Review of Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics, conserved quantities 7
2Collisions and scattering 9
3Special theory of relativity: Lorentz transformations, 4-vectors14
4Relativistic momentum, relativistic collisions14
5Motion in noninertial reference frames10
6Rigid bodies (kinematics)11
7Rigid bodies (dynamics)11
8Coupled oscillators12
9Normal modes12
10(bonus) Continuous mechanics, waves13

Learning outcomes: Ability to apply knowledge of various aspects of classical mechanics to understand and analyze a broad variety of physical phenomena, including rigid bodies and coupled oscillators. Understanding of the rules to change reference frame to describe a dynamical system, including relativistic and noninertial cases.


Physics 110A: Electricity and Magnetism

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Physics 32. Electrostatics and magnetostatics. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“Modern Physics,” Serway, Moses, and Moyer (3rd ed., 2005)

Week Topics Chapters
1Math refresh, electrostatics 1,2
2Electrostatics 2
3Electrostatics2
4Potentials3
5Potentials3
6Electrostatics in matter4
7Magnetostatics5
8Magnetostatics5
9Magnetic fields in matter6
10Magnetic fields in matter6

Learning outcomes: Ability to analyze physics problems involving static electric and magnetic fields, potentials and their sources.


Physics 110B: Electricity and Magnetism

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Physics 110A. Corequisite: Physics 105B. Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, potential and fields, radiation, Lorentz invariance. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“Introduction to Electrodynamics,” Griffiths (4th ed., 2017)

Week Topics Chapters
1Electrodynamics7
2Electrodynamics 7
3Electrodynamics7
4Conservation laws8
5Electromagnetic waves9
6Electromagnetic waves9
7Potentials and fields10
8Potentials and fields10
9Radiation11
10Electrodynamics and relativity12

Learning outcomes: Mastering fundamental laws and concepts in electrodynamics encoded in Maxwell’s equations, as well as their implications such as electromagnetic waves and radiation.


Physics 112: Thermal Physics

(4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Physics 115A. Corequisite: Physics 115B. Fundamentals of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Classical and quantum ensembles. Simple applications including heat engines and pumps. Degenerate Fermi gases, Bose condensates, and blackbody radiation. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
“An Introduction to Thermal Physics,” Schroeder (1st ed., 1999)

Week Topics Chapters
1First law, equipartition of energy, microcanonical ensemble 1
2Entropy, temperature, and work; paramagnet and Einstein solid1,2
3Second law, generalized forces, pressure of ideal gas2,3
4Heat engines, pumps, and refrigerators; performance efficiencies4
5Thermodynamics with environment, thermodynamic potentials, Maxwell relations; phase transitions; van der Waals model5
6Canonical and grand canonical ensembles; Maxwell speed distribution6
7Partition function (ideal gas and paramagnet revisited)6
8Quantum statistics: Bosons vs fermions7
9Fermi gases and Bose-Einstein condensation7
10Blackbody radiation and Debye theory of solids7

Learning outcomes: Developing the foundational understanding of the principles of thermal and statistical physics and the ability to apply these principles to a set of representative physical examples. Be able to synergize the knowledge acquired from the entirety of the core physics education in the thermodynamic contexts.


Physics 115A: Quantum Mechanics

Units: 4.0 Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisites: Physics 17, 105A. Classical background. Basic ideas of quantum nature of light, wave-particle duality, Heisenberg uncertainty principle, Schrödinger equation. One-dimensional square well and harmonic oscillator problems. One-dimensional scattering, Formal theory, Hilbert spaces and Dirac notation. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
”Introduction to Quantum Mechanics,” Griffiths (3rd ed., 2017)

Week Topics Chapters
1Experimental motivation and phenomena leading to QM
2Schrödinger equation, probability interpretation1.1-1.3
3Normalization of wave function, momentum and uncertainty principle1.4-1.6
4Time-independent Schrödinger equation, infinite square well2.1-2.2
5Harmonic oscillator2.3
6Free particle and scattering2.4-2.5
7Finite square well, Hilbert space2.6-3.1
8Observables and spectra of operators3.2-3.3
9Generalized statistical interpretation and uncertainty principle3.4-3.5
10Dirac notation, extra time for a special topic3.6

Learning outcomes: Mastering the underlying mathematical structures and the physical principles of quantum mechanics, in particular the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, time evolution and measurements. Applying the principles of QM to simple one dimensional systems.


Physics 115B: Quantum Mechanics

Units: 4.0 Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisite: Physics 115A. Corequisite: Physics 105B. Three-dimensional problems. Central potentials. Hydrogen atom. Angular momentum and spin, identical particles, and Pauli exclusion principle. Electrons in an electromagnetic field. Symmetries. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
”Introduction to Quantum Mechanics,” Griffiths (3rd ed., 2017)

Week Topics Chapters
13-dim quantum mechanics, hydrogen atom4.1-4.2
2Hydrogen atom, cont.4.2
3Angular momentum4.3
4Spin4.4
5Addition of angular momentum, electromagnetic interactions4.5
6Identical particles, atoms, free electron gas5.1-5.3
7Symmetry, translation operators and conservations (quantum Noether theorem)6.1-6.3
8Parity and rotational symmetry6.4-6.5
9Degeneracy, selection rules, Heisenberg picture6.6-6.8
10EPR paradox and Bell’s theorem12.1-12.2

Learning outcomes: Application of the principles of quantum mechanics to three dimensional systems and multi-particle systems. Ability to calculate the energy levels of Hydrogen and related Atoms. Understanding the quantum mechanical realization of angular momentum and spin, including the addition of angular momentum. Understanding the importance and implementation of symmetries in quantum mechanics.


Physics 115C: Quantum Mechanics

Units: 4.0 Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Requisite: Physics 115B. Time-independent perturbation theory, application to atomic spectra. Time-dependent perturbation theory. Fermi’s golden rule. Scattering. WKB approximation. P/NP or letter grading.

Guidelines for topics to be covered in this class and suggested approximate schedules are listed below.

Textbook:
”Introduction to Quantum Mechanics,” Griffiths (3rd ed., 2017)

Week Topics Chapters
1Time-independent perturbation: Nondegenerate1,2
2Time-independent perturbation: Degenerate2
3Application to hydrogen spectrum 2
4WKB approximation3
5Scattering3
6Scattering4
7Time-dependent Schrödinger equation for 2-level systems5
8Absorption and emission of radiation5
9Fermi’s golden rule, adiabatic approximation6
10Mixed states, no-cloning theorem, Schrödinger’s cat, or other special topics6

Learning outcomes: Ability to use approximation methods, such as time independent and time dependent perturbation theory, WKB approximation and Fermi’s Golden rule to calculate spectra, transition amplitudes and scattering cross sections for interacting systems. Application of quantum mechanical approximation methods in atomic, particle and condensed matter physics.