computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualization of Quantum Probabilities for the Hydrogen Atom
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Students use Mathematica to visualize the probability density distribution for the hydrogen atom orbitals with the option to vary the values of \(n\), \(\ell\), and \(m\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Energy and Angular Momentum for a Quantum Particle on a Ring

central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues quantum measurements angular momentum energy hermitian operators probability superposition representations notations degeneracy

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students calculate probabilities for a particle on a ring using three different notations: Dirac bra-ket, matrix, and wave function. After calculating the angular momentum and energy measurement probabilities, students compare their calculation methods for notation.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Time Dependence for a Quantum Particle on a Ring
Theoretical Mechanics (6 years)

central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues angular momentum time dependence hermitian operators probability degeneracy quantum measurements

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students calculate probabilities for energy, angular momentum, and position as a function of time for an initial state that is a linear combination of energy/angular momentum eigenstates for a particle confined to a ring written in bra-ket notation. This activity helps students build an understanding of when they can expect a quantity to depend on time and to give them more practice moving between representations.

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualizing Combinations of Spherical Harmonics
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Students observe three different plots of linear combinations of spherical combinations with probability density represented by color on the sphere, distance from the origin (polar plot), and distance from the surface of the sphere.

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 \((\cdots)^2\).

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Box Sliding Down Frictionless Wedge
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Lagrangian Mechanics Generalized Coordinates Special Cases

Students solve for the equations of motion of a box sliding down (frictionlessly) a wedge, which itself slides on a horizontal surface, in order to answer the question "how much time does it take for the box to slide a distance \(d\) down the wedge?". This activities highlights finding kinetic energies when the coordinate system is not orthonormal and checking special cases, functional behavior, and dimensions.

groups Whole Class Activity

10 min.

Air Hockey
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

central forces potential energy classical mechanics

Students observe the motion of a puck tethered to the center of the airtable. Then they plot the potential energy for the puck on their small whiteboards. A class discussion follows based on what students have written on their whiteboards.

assignment Homework

Pressure of thermal radiation
Thermal radiation Pressure Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

(modified from K&K 4.6) We discussed in class that \begin{align} p &= -\left(\frac{\partial F}{\partial V}\right)_T \end{align} Use this relationship to show that

  1. \begin{align} p &= -\sum_j \langle n_j\rangle\hbar \left(\frac{d\omega_j}{dV}\right), \end{align} where \(\langle n_j\rangle\) is the number of photons in the mode \(j\);

  2. Solve for the relationship between pressure and internal energy.

assignment Homework

Ring Function
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Consider the normalized wavefunction \(\Phi\left(\phi\right)\) for a quantum mechanical particle of mass \(\mu\) constrained to move on a circle of radius \(r_0\), given by: \begin{equation} \Phi\left(\phi\right)= \frac{N}{2+\cos(3\phi)} \end{equation} where \(N\) is the normalization constant.
  1. Find \(N\).

  2. Plot this wave function.
  3. Plot the probability density.
  4. Find the probability that if you measured \(L_z\) you would get \(3\hbar\).
  5. What is the expectation value of \(L_z\) in this state?

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.

assignment Homework

Frequency
Quantum Mechanics Time Evolution Spin Precession Expectation Value Bohr Frequency Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years) Consider a two-state quantum system with a Hamiltonian \begin{equation} \hat{H}\doteq \begin{pmatrix} E_1&0\\ 0&E_2 \end{pmatrix} \end{equation} Another physical observable \(M\) is described by the operator \begin{equation} \hat{M}\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 0&c\\ c&0 \end{pmatrix} \end{equation} where \(c\) is real and positive. Let the initial state of the system be \(\left|{\psi(0)}\right\rangle =\left|{m_1}\right\rangle \), where \(\left|{m_1}\right\rangle \) is the eigenstate corresponding to the larger of the two possible eigenvalues of \(\hat{M}\). What is the frequency of oscillation of the expectation value of \(M\)? This frequency is the Bohr frequency.

assignment Homework

Phase
Complex Numbers Rectangular Form Exponential Form Square of the Norm Overall Phase Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)
  1. For each of the following complex numbers \(z\), find \(z^2\), \(\vert z\vert^2\), and rewrite \(z\) in exponential form, i.e. as a magnitude times a complex exponential phase:
    • \(z_1=i\),

    • \(z_2=2+2i\),
    • \(z_3=3-4i\).
  2. In quantum mechanics, it turns out that the overall phase for a state does not have any physical significance. Therefore, you will need to become quick at rearranging the phase of various states. For each of the vectors listed below, rewrite the vector as an overall complex phase times a new vector whose first component is real and positive. \[\left|D\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 7e^{i\frac{\pi}{6}}\\ 3e^{i\frac{\pi}{2}}\\ -1\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|E\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} i\\ 4\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|F\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 2+2i\\ 3-4i\\ \end{pmatrix} \]

assignment Homework

Visualization of Wave Functions on a Ring
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Using either this Geogebra applet or this Mathematica notebook, explore the wave functions on a ring. (Note: The Geogebra applet may be a little easier to use and understand and is accessible if you don't have access to Mathematica, but it is more limited in the wave functions that you can represent. Also, the animation is pretty jumpy in some browsers, especially Firefox. Imagine that the motion is smooth.)
  1. Look at graphs of the following states \begin{align} \Phi_1(\phi)&=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\left|{2}\right\rangle +\left|{-2}\right\rangle )\\ \Phi_2(\phi)&=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\left|{2}\right\rangle -\left|{-2}\right\rangle )\\ \Phi_3(\phi)&=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\left|{2}\right\rangle +i\left|{-2}\right\rangle ) \end{align} Write a short description of how these states differ from each other.
  2. Find a state for which the probability density does not depend on time. Write the state in both ket and wave function notation. These are called stationary states. Generalize your result to give a characterization of the set of all possible states that are stationary states.
  3. Find a state that is right-moving. Write the state in both ket and wave function notation. Generalize your result to give a characterization of the set of all possible states that are right-moving.
  4. Find a state that is a standing wave. Write the state in both ket and wave function notation. Generalize your result to give a characterization of the set of all possible states that are standing waves.

group Small Group Activity

120 min.

Projectile with Linear Drag
Theoretical Mechanics (4 years)

Projectile Motion Drag Forces Newton's 2nd Law Separable Differential Equations

Students consider projectile motion of an object that experiences drag force that in linear with the velocity. Students consider the horizontal motion and the vertical motion separately. Students solve Newton's 2nd law as a differential equation.

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Sinusoidal basis set
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

inner product wave function quantum mechanics particle in a box

Students compute inner products to expand a wave function in a sinusoidal basis set. This activity introduces the inner product for wave functions, and the idea of approximating a wave function using a finite set of basis functions.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Time Evolution of a Spin-1/2 System
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (3 years)

quantum mechanics spin precession time evolution

In this small group activity, students solve for the time dependence of two quantum spin 1/2 particles under the influence of a Hamiltonian. Students determine, given a Hamiltonian, which states are stationary and under what circumstances measurement probabilities do change with time.

face Lecture

5 min.

Energy and Entropy review
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 (3 years)

thermodynamics statistical mechanics

This very quick lecture reviews the content taught in Energy and Entropy, and is the first content in Thermal and Statistical Physics.

assignment Homework

Free energy of a two state system
Helmholtz free energy entropy statistical mechanics Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020
  1. Find an expression for the free energy as a function of \(T\) of a system with two states, one at energy 0 and one at energy \(\varepsilon\).

  2. From the free energy, find expressions for the internal energy \(U\) and entropy \(S\) of the system.

  3. Plot the entropy versus \(T\). Explain its asymptotic behavior as the temperature becomes high.

  4. Plot the \(S(T)\) versus \(U(T)\). Explain the maximum value of the energy \(U\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Total Charge
Static Fields 2022 (5 years)

charge charge density multiple integral scalar field coordinate systems differential elements curvilinear coordinates

Integration Sequence

In this small group activity, students integrate over non-uniform charge densities in cylindrical and spherical coordinates to calculate total charge.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Going from Spin States to Wavefunctions
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

Wavefunctions quantum states probability amplitude histograms matrix notation of quantum states Arms representation

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students review using the Arms representation to represent states for discrete quantum systems and connecting the Arms representation to histogram and matrix representation. The student then extend the Arms representation to begin exploring the continuous position basis.