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Physics (PHY) Course Descriptions

Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Sciences


PHY 1013  Universes [TCCN: PHYS 1310.]
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: MAT 1023 or MAT 1073 or consent of instructor.
This course is an introduction to contemporary physics and cosmology. The goal is to study some of the profound discoveries in fundamental physics made during the 20th century, and how they have shaped our modern conception of the universe and of our place in it. Topics discussed include Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity, quantum physics, modern cosmology (including the very early universe), and the standard model of elementary particles and forces. May not be applied toward the B.S. degree in Physics without prior written approval of the department. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science.

PHY 1213  The Fringes of Science
(3-0) 3 hours credit.
This course examines the relationship between science and pseudo-science. It is intended to equip the student with the critical-thinking skills needed to distinguish between solid science and claims often promoted as scientific. Classes are a combination of lectures, readings from the history and philosophy of science, class discussion, etc. Topics discussed may include astrology, black holes, parapsychology, quantum physics, UFOs, homeopathy and other alternative therapies.

PHY 1603  Algebra-based Physics I [TCCN: PHYS 1301.]
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: MAT 1023 or MAT 1073 completed with a grade of “C-” or better.
The first of a two-part, algebra-based introduction to physics for biology and other majors that do not require calculus-based physics. Topics include mechanics, thermodynamics, vibrations and waves. Concurrent enrollment in PHY 1611 is recommended. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science.

PHY 1611  Algebra-based Physics I Laboratory [TCCN: PHYS 1101.]
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisite: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHY 1603.
Laboratory accompanies PHY 1603; uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 1603.

PHY 1623  Algebra-based Physics II [TCCN: PHYS 1302.]
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 1603 completed with a grade of “C-” or better.
The second of a two-part, algebra-based introduction to physics for biology and other majors that do not require calculus-based physics. Topics include electricity, magnetism, optics, relativity, and quantum physics. Concurrent enrollment in PHY 1631 is recommended. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science.

PHY 1631  Algebra-based Physics II Laboratory [TCCN: PHYS 1102.]
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1611 completed with a grade of “C-” or better and completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHY 1623.
Laboratory accompanies PHY 1623; uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 1623.

PHY 1903  Engineering Physics I [TCCN: PHYS 2325.]
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: MAT 1214 completed with a grade of “C-” or better and completion of or concurrent enrollment in MAT 1224.
The first of a two-part, calculus-based introduction to classical physics. Topics include mechanics, relativity, gravitation, oscillations and waves, and fluids. Concurrent enrollment in PHY 1911 is recommended. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science. (Formerly PHY 1904. Same as PHY 1943. Credit cannot be earned for more than one of the following: PHY 1903, PHY 1904, or PHY 1943.)

PHY 1911  Engineering Physics I Laboratory [TCCN: PHYS 2125.]
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisite: Completion of, with a grade of “C-” or better, or concurrent enrollment in PHY 1903.
Laboratory to accompany PHY 1903; uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 1903. (Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 1911 and PHY 1951.)

PHY 1923  Engineering Physics II [TCCN: PHYS 2326.]
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1903 and completion of MAT 1224 with a grade of “C-” or better.
The second of a two-part, calculus-based introduction to classical physics. Topics include electricity and magnetism, basic circuits, electromagnetic waves, Maxwell equations, and optics. Concurrent enrollment in PHY 1931 is recommended. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science. (Formerly PHY 1924. Same as PHY 1963. Credit cannot be earned for more than one of the following: PHY 1923, PHY 1924, or PHY 1963.)

PHY 1931  Engineering Physics II Laboratory [TCCN: PHYS 2126.]
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisites: Completion of PHY 1911 with a grade of “C-” or better and completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHY 1923.
Laboratory to accompany PHY 1923; uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 1923. (Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 1931 and PHY 1971.)

PHY 1943  Physics for Scientists I [TCCN: PHYS 2325.]
(3-1) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: MAT 1193 or MAT 1214 completed with a grade of “C-” or better; completion of or concurrent enrollment in MAT 1224 (if student took MAT 1214) or STA 1403 (if student took MAT 1193) is required.
The first of a two-part, calculus-based introduction to classical physics, designed for physical sciences and mathematics majors. Topics include mechanics and Newton’s laws, conservation laws, gravitation, rotational motion and rigid bodies, oscillations and waves. Concurrent enrollment in PHY 1951 is recommended. Classes meet weekly for three hours of lecture and one hour of recitation. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science. (Formerly PHY 1904. Same as PHY 1903. Credit cannot be earned for more than one of the following: PHY 1903, PHY 1904, or PHY 1943.)

PHY 1951  Physics for Scientists I Laboratory
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisite: Completion of, with a grade of “C-” or better, or concurrent enrollment in PHY 1943.
Laboratory to accompany PHY 1943; uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 1943. (Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 1951 and PHY 1911.)

PHY 1963  Physics for Scientists II [TCCN: PHYS 2326.]
(3-1) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1943 and MAT 1224 (or MAT 1193 and STA 1403) completed with grades of “C-” or better.
The second of a two-part, calculus-based introduction to classical physics, designed for physical sciences and mathematics majors. Topics include an introduction to thermal physics, electricity and magnetism, fundamentals of circuits, electromagnetic induction, AC circuits, electromagnetic waves, and Maxwell’s equations. Concurrent enrollment in PHY 1971 is recommended. Classes meet weekly for three hours of lecture and one hour of recitation. May apply toward the Level II Core Curriculum requirement in science. (Formerly PHY 1924. Same as PHY 1923. Credit cannot be earned for more than one of the following: PHY 1923, PHY 1924, or PHY 1963.)

PHY 1971  Physics for Scientists II Laboratory
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1951 completed with a grade of “C-” or better and completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHY 1963.
Laboratory to accompany PHY 1963; uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 1963. (Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 1971 and PHY 1931.)

PHY 2103  Modern Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1963, MAT 2214 (completed with a grade of “C-” or better), and completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHY 3203, or consent of instructor.
Topics include special relativity, Planck’s Radiation Law, elements of quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular structures, spectra, the atomic nucleus, nuclear reactions, and an introduction to elementary particles. (Formerly PHY 3103. Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 2103 and PHY 3103.)

PHY 2111  Modern Physics Laboratory
(1-4) 1 hour credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1963, PHY 1971, and completion of, with a grade of “C-” or better, or concurrent enrollment in PHY 2103.
Laboratory to accompany PHY 2103; Uses modern data acquisition and analysis tools to study the classic physics experiments that underlie the concepts discussed in PHY 2103.

PHY 2823  Mathematical Physics I
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: MAT 2214 and PHY 1963, or consent of instructor.
Topics may include vector analysis, introduction to complex variables, Fourier series, ordinary differential equations, linear algebra, and selected application to problems in mechanics and electromagnetic theory. (Formerly PHY 3823. Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 2823 and PHY 3823.)

PHY 3003  Current Research Topics in Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1623 and PHY 1631, PHY 1923 and PHY 1931, or PHY 1963 and PHY 1971, completed with a grade or “C-” or better.
This course provides students the opportunity to acquire knowledge in contemporary physics through the study and class discussions of selected topics and recent articles. Subjects may include one or more of the following: special and general relativity, elements of quantum mechanics, atomic and molecular physics, solid state, biophysics, nuclear physics, introduction to elementary particles, astrophysics and cosmology, etc. May not be applied toward the B.S. or B.A. degree in Physics without prior written approval of the department.

PHY 3143  Introduction to Computational Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 2103, PHY 2823, and PHY 3203, or consent of instructor.
This course introduces the computer techniques used to solve (and improve the understanding of) physical problems that may be intractable by the standard “pencil and paper” analytical approach. Topics may include numerical solution of differential equations, numerical integration, eigenvalue problems, use of computer algebra systems such as Mathematica or Maple, Monte Carlo methods, computer visualization of physical problems, etc. Examples are taken from classical and quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, statistical mechanics, and solid state physics. May be applied toward a B.S. degree in Physics with approval of the physics advisor. (Formerly titled “Computer Visualization of Physics.”)

PHY 3203  Classical Mechanics I
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1963 and completion of, with a grade of “C-” or better, or concurrent enrollment in PHY 2823, or consent of instructor.
Topics include Newtonian mechanics, oscillations, central-force motion, gravitation, Hamiltonian and Lagrangian dynamics.

PHY 3293  Thermal Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1963 and PHY 2823, or consent of instructor.
Topics include fundamentals of thermodynamics: entropy, free energy, phase transitions, and thermodynamic potentials; equilibrium, Maxwell-Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein, and Fermi-Dirac distribution functions; derivation of macroscopic equilibrium thermodynamics from statistical mechanics.

PHY 3313  Materials Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
Topics covered include crystal structure and band theory, density functional theory, a survey of properties of metals and semiconductors, phonons, electron-phonon interaction and superconductivity. (Formerly titled “Solid State Physics.”)

PHY 3343  Advanced Physics Laboratory
(0-6) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1971, PHY 2103 and PHY 2111.
This course provides students majoring in physics the opportunity to acquire knowledge in advanced experimental techniques gained through actual participation in real-world physics research labs.

PHY 3423  Electricity and Magnetism
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1963, PHY 2823, and completion of (with a grade of “C-” or better) or concurrent enrollment in MAT 3613, or consent of instructor.
Topics include vector calculus, electrostatics, magnetostatics, Faraday’s Law, and solutions to Laplace’s equation.

PHY 3443  Modern Optics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 3423 or consent of instructor.
Topics include reflection, refraction, absorption, polarization, and diffraction of light, filters, lasers, nonlinear properties, and Fourier optics.

PHY 3453  Lasers: Theory and Applications
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
Topics include basic principles and designs of lasers: Einstein A and B coefficients; semiclassical laser theory; the phase-coherent nature of the stimulated emission process; and laser efficiency. Various applications of lasers, such as laser-induced fluorescence, light wave communications, holography, surgery, and laser fusion.

PHY 3513  Electrodynamics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 2823 and PHY 3423, or consent of instructor.
Continuation of the material started in PHY 3423. Topics include Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves, wave guides, and radiation from accelerated charges.

PHY 3583  Mathematical Physics II
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2823 or consent of instructor.
Topics may include series solutions of differential equations, partial differential equations of physics, special functions, integral transforms and introduction to tensor calculus. Applications may include topics in classical and quantum mechanics, electrostatics and electrodynamics. (Formerly PHY 4823. Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 3583 and PHY 4823.)

PHY 3603  Cosmology
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 1963 and PHY 2103, or consent of instructor.
This course is an introduction to physical cosmology. Topics include large-scale structure, expansion and age of the universe; non-Euclidean spaces, big bang cosmology, baryogenesis, nucleosynthesis, and cosmic microwave background radiation; particle physics and inflationary cosmology. (Formerly PHY 4033. Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 3603 and PHY 4033.)

PHY 4013  Relativity: Special and General
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 2823 and PHY 3203, or consent of instructor.
Topics include special relativity: Lorentz transformations, four-vectors, geometry of flat space-time, relativistic dynamics. General relativity: Principle of equivalence, introduction to tensor calculus, Einstein’s field equations, Schwarzschild’s solution, black holes. Introduction to cosmology.

PHY 4133  Numerical Methods for Physicists
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: MAT 3613 and PHY 1963, or consent of instructor.
Topics may include numerical simulation of constrained and unconstrained rigid-body systems that are modeled according to physical laws; numerical solution to stiff systems of differential equations; use of automatic differentiation to compute Jacobian matrices associated with complex stiff systems.

PHY 4203  Classical Mechanics II
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 3203 or consent of instructor.
Topics include nonlinear oscillations and chaos, systems of particles and collisions, non-inertial frames, rigid bodies, coupled oscillations, continuous systems and waves.

PHY 4233  Environmental Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
The essentials of environmental physics: global climate, energy for human use, pollutants, noise, environmental spectroscopy, and LIDAR. (Formerly PHY 3233. Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 4233 and PHY 3233.)

PHY 4263  Quantum Mechanics I
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 2103, PHY 3203, MAT 2233, and completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHY 3583, or consent of instructor.
Topics include the time-independent Schrodinger equation; operator methods, and the postulates of quantum mechanics; one-dimensional potentials; quantum harmonic oscillator; angular momentum and spin; entanglement and its applications; quantum mechanics in three dimensions and the hydrogen atom.

PHY 4423  Quantum Mechanics II
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 3583 and PHY 4263, or consent of instructor.
Topics include identical particles; time-independent perturbation theory; WKB approximation, time-dependent perturbation theory, the variational principle; the adiabatic approximation and Berry’s phase; scattering.

PHY 4563  Biophotonics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 3443 or consent of instructor.
Topics including basic concepts of optical radiation interacting with biological materials will be covered. Discussion of how the unique properties of photons are exploited to understand the biological structure and its function. Photon absorption and emission in biological materials will be considered to explain their applications, including optical imaging as a noninvasive diagnosis tool, photodynamic therapy (PDT), etc.

PHY 4603  Crystallography and Materials Characterization
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
This course will describe the basics of crystal description and will discuss the characterization methods such as x-ray electron and neutron diffraction.

PHY 4623  Nanotechnology
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
This course will describe the fundamentals of nanotechnology, including properties of matter at the nanometric size.

PHY 4653  Introduction to Micro and Nanotechnology
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 3423 or consent of instructor.
Survey of micro and nanofabrication techniques, scaling laws, mechanical, optical, electrical, magnetic and thermal transducers, microfluidic applications, and nanostructures. Structures produced in the laboratory include microactuators, nanoparticles and microfluidics. This course differs from PHY 4623 in that it is oriented more toward fabrication techniques, rather than fundamentals. (Credit cannot be earned for both PHY 4653 and EE 4523.)

PHY 4703  Renewable Energy: Solar Energy Convertors
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
Topics include physics of photovoltaic cells, semiconductors, solar energy convertors, thin film solar cells, nanostructures for solar energy conversion, dye-sensitized photovoltaic cells, fuels from water and sunlight, strategies for high efficiency.

PHY 4833  Molecular Biophysics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: PHY 2103 or consent of instructor.
Topics include interaction between molecules, principles of thermodynamics (enthalpy, entropy, free energy) applied to biomolecules, Brownian motion and diffusion of molecules, structure of proteins, and principles of quantum mechanics. Biophysical techniques: absorption spectroscopy, transient absorption, fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence lifetime, FTIR spectroscopy, linear and circular dichroism, x-ray crystallography, and atomic force microscopy.

PHY 4843  Condensed Matter Theory
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 3313 and PHY 4263, or consent of instructor.
This course offers an introduction to the basic concepts of the quantum condensed matter theory, such as lattice dynamics, elementary excitations, linear response theory, symmetry breaking in Fermi and Bose systems: the physics of superconductivity and superfluidity.

PHY 4911-3  Independent Study
1 to 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: Permission in writing (form available) of the instructor, the student’s advisor, the Department Chair, and Dean of the College in which the course is offered.
Independent reading, research, discussion, and/or writing under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated for credit, but not more than 6 semester credit hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to a bachelor’s degree in physics.

PHY 4953  Special Studies in Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.
An organized course offering the opportunity for specialized study not normally or not often available as part of the regular course offerings. Special Studies may be repeated for credit when the topics vary, but not more than 6 semester credit hours, regardless of discipline, will apply to a bachelor’s degree.

PHY 4983  Unifying Concepts in Physics
(3-0) 3 hours credit. Prerequisites: PHY 3293, PHY 3513, PHY 4263, and completion with a grade of "C-" or better or concurrent enrollment in PHY 3583, or consent of instructor.
This advanced course is designed to help the students develop a more mature and coherent understanding of the whole discipline through an in-depth exploration of the major branches of physics and their theoretical interconnections.

PHY 4993  Honors Research
3 hours credit. Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to candidates for College Honors during their last two semesters; approval by the College Honors Committee.
Supervised research and preparation of an honors thesis. May be repeated once with approval.


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