group Small Group Activity

10 min.

Thermal radiation at twice the temperature
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (3 years)

Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody radiation

This small group activity has students reasoning about how the Planck distribution shifts when the temperature is doubled. This leads to a qualitative argument for the Stefan-Boltzmann law.

assignment Homework

Energy fluctuations
energy Boltzmann factor statistical mechanics heat capacity Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Consider a system of fixed volume in thermal contact with a resevoir. Show that the mean square fluctuations in the energy of the system is \begin{equation} \left<\left(\varepsilon-\langle\varepsilon\rangle\right)^2\right> = k_BT^2\left(\frac{\partial U}{\partial T}\right)_{V} \end{equation} Here \(U\) is the conventional symbol for \(\langle\varepsilon\rangle\). Hint: Use the partition function \(Z\) to relate \(\left(\frac{\partial U}{\partial T}\right)_V\) to the mean square fluctuation. Also, multiply out the term \((\cdots)^2\).

assignment Homework

Boltzmann probabilities
Energy Entropy Boltzmann probabilities Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 (3 years) Consider a three-state system with energies \((-\epsilon,0,\epsilon)\).
  1. At infinite temperature, what are the probabilities of the three states being occupied? What is the internal energy \(U\)? What is the entropy \(S\)?
  2. At very low temperature, what are the three probabilities?
  3. What are the three probabilities at zero temperature? What is the internal energy \(U\)? What is the entropy \(S\)?
  4. What happens to the probabilities if you allow the temperature to be negative?

face Lecture

30 min.

Review of Thermal Physics
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

thermodynamics statistical mechanics

These are notes, essentially the equation sheet, from the final review session for Thermal and Statistical Physics.

assignment Homework

Diatomic hydrogen
rigid rotor hamiltonian angular momentum ground state hydrogen diatomic probability Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

At low temperatures, a diatomic molecule can be well described as a rigid rotor. The Hamiltonian of such a system is simply proportional to the square of the angular momentum \begin{align} H &= \frac{1}{2I}L^2 \end{align} and the energy eigenvalues are \begin{align} E_{\ell m} &= \hbar^2 \frac{\ell(\ell+1)}{2I} \end{align}

  1. What is the energy of the ground state and the first and second excited states of the \(H_2\) molecule? i.e. the lowest three distinct energy eigenvalues.

  2. At room temperature, what is the relative probability of finding a hydrogen molecule in the \(\ell=0\) state versus finding it in any one of the \(\ell=1\) states?
    i.e. what is \(P_{\ell=0,m=0}/\left(P_{\ell=1,m=-1} + P_{\ell=1,m=0} + P_{\ell=1,m=1}\right)\)

  3. At what temperature is the value of this ratio 1?

  4. At room temperature, what is the probability of finding a hydrogen molecule in any one of the \(\ell=2\) states versus that of finding it in the ground state?
    i.e. what is \(P_{\ell=0,m=0}/\left(P_{\ell=2,m=-2} + P_{\ell=2,m=-1} + \cdots + P_{\ell=2,m=2}\right)\)

face Lecture

120 min.

Gibbs entropy approach
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Gibbs entropy information theory probability statistical mechanics

These lecture notes for the first week of Thermal and Statistical Physics include a couple of small group activities in which students work with the Gibbs formulation of the entropy.

face Lecture

120 min.

Entropy and Temperature
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

paramagnet entropy temperature statistical mechanics

These lecture notes for the second week of Thermal and Statistical Physics involve relating entropy and temperature in the microcanonical ensemble, using a paramagnet as an example. These notes include a few small group activities.

face Lecture

120 min.

Boltzmann probabilities and Helmholtz
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

ideal gas entropy canonical ensemble Boltzmann probability Helmholtz free energy statistical mechanics

These notes, from the third week of Thermal and Statistical Physics cover the canonical ensemble and Helmholtz free energy. They include a number of small group activities.

face Lecture

120 min.

Thermal radiation and Planck distribution
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Planck distribution blackbody radiation photon statistical mechanics

These notes from the fourth week of Thermal and Statistical Physics cover blackbody radiation and the Planck distribution. They include a number of small group activities.

face Lecture

120 min.

Chemical potential and Gibbs distribution
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

chemical potential Gibbs distribution grand canonical ensemble statistical mechanics

These notes from the fifth week of Thermal and Statistical Physics cover the grand canonical ensemble. They include several small group activities.