keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Electrostatic potential of spherical shell
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

electrostatic potential spherical coordinates

Students solve numerically for the potential due to a spherical shell of charge. Although this potential is straightforward to compute using Gauss's Law, it serves as a nice example for numerically integrating in spherical coordinates because the correct answer is easy to recognize.

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Mean position
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

probability density particle in a box wave function quantum mechanics

Students compute probabilities and averages given a probability density in one dimension. This activity serves as a soft introduction to the particle in a box, introducing all the concepts that are needed.

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.

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualization of Quantum Probabilities for a Particle Confined to a Ring
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

central forces quantum mechanics angular momentum probability density eigenstates time evolution superposition mathematica

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students see probability density for eigenstates and linear combinations of eigenstates for a particle on a ring. The three visual representations: standard position vs probability density plot, a ring with colormapping, and cylindrical plot with height and colormapping, are also animated to visualize time-evolution.

assignment Homework

Pressure and entropy of a degenerate Fermi gas
Fermi gas Pressure Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020
  1. Show that a Fermi electron gas in the ground state exerts a pressure \begin{align} p = \frac{\left(3\pi^2\right)^{\frac23}}{5} \frac{\hbar^2}{m}\left(\frac{N}{V}\right)^{\frac53} \end{align} In a uniform decrease of the volume of a cube every orbital has its energy raised: The energy of each orbital is proportional to \(\frac1{L^2}\) or to \(\frac1{V^{\frac23}}\).

  2. Find an expression for the entropy of a Fermi electron gas in the region \(kT\ll \varepsilon_F\). Notice that \(S\rightarrow 0\) as \(T\rightarrow 0\).

assignment Homework

Working with Representations on the Ring
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

The following are 3 different representations for the \(\textbf{same}\) state on a quantum ring for \(r_0=1\) \begin{equation} \left|{\Phi_a}\right\rangle = i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{12}}\left|{3}\right\rangle - \sqrt{\frac{ 1}{12}}\left|{1}\right\rangle +\sqrt{\frac{ 3}{12}}e^{i\frac{\pi}{4}}\left|{0}\right\rangle -i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{ 12}}\left|{-1}\right\rangle +\sqrt{\frac{ 4}{12}}\left|{-3}\right\rangle \end{equation} \begin{equation} \left| \Phi_b\right\rangle \doteq \left( \begin{matrix} \vdots \\ i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{12}}\\ 0 \\ -\sqrt{\frac{ 1}{12}} \\ \sqrt{\frac{ 3}{12}}e^{i\frac{\pi}{4}} \\ -i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{12}}\\ 0 \\ \sqrt{\frac{4}{12} }\\ \vdots \end{matrix}\right) \begin{matrix} \leftarrow m=0 \end{matrix} \end{equation} \begin{equation} \Phi_c(\phi) \doteq \sqrt{\frac{1}{24 \pi}} \left( i\sqrt{2}e^{i 3 \phi} -e^{i\phi} +\sqrt{3}e^{i\frac{\pi}{4}} -i \sqrt{2} e^{-i\phi} + \sqrt{4}e^{-i 3 \phi} \right) \end{equation}

  1. With each representation of the state given above, explicitly calculate the probability that \(L_z=-1\hbar\). Then, calculate all other non-zero probabilities for values of \(L_z\) with a method/representation of your choice.
  2. Explain how you could be sure you calculated all of the non-zero probabilities.
  3. If you measured the \(z\)-component of angular momentum to be \(3\hbar\), what would the state of the particle be immediately after the measurement is made?
  4. With each representation of the state given above, explicitly calculate the probability that \(E=\frac{9}{2}\frac{\hbar^2}{I}\). Then, calculate all other non-zero probabilities for values of \(E\) with a method of your choice.
  5. If you measured the energy of the state to be \(\frac{9}{2}\frac{\hbar^2}{I}\), what would the state of the particle be immediately after the measurement is made?

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

60 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Pair of Charges (with Series)
Static Fields 2023 (6 years)

electrostatic potential multipole charge symmetry scalar field superposition coulomb's Law

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) = \frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\sum_i \frac{q_i}{\vert\vec{r}-\vec{r}_i\vert}\] to find the electrostatic potential \(V\) everywhere in space due to a pair of charges (either identical charges or a dipole). Different groups are assigned different arrangements of charges and different regions of space to consider: either on the axis of the charges or in the plane equidistant from the two charges, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Each group is asked to find a power series expansion for the electrostatic potential, valid in their group's assigned region of space. The whole class wrap-up discussion then compares and contrasts the results and discuss the symmetries of the two cases.

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?

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

10 min.

Spin 1/2 with Arms
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (2 years)

Quantum State Vectors Complex Numbers Spin 1/2 Arms Representation

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students, working in pairs, use their left arms to represent each component in a two-state quantum spin 1/2 system. Reinforces the idea that quantum states are complex valued vectors. Students make connections between Dirac, matrix, and Arms representation.

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.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2023 (8 years)

electrostatic potential charge linear charge density taylor series power series scalar field superposition symmetry distance formula

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Warm-Up

Ring Cycle Sequence

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electrostatic potential, \(V(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(V(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Changes in Internal Energy (Remote)

Thermo Internal Energy 1st Law of Thermodynamics

Warm-Up

Students consider the change in internal energy during three different processes involving a container of water vapor on a stove. Using the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, students reason about how the internal energy would change and then compare this prediction with data from NIST presented as a contour plot.

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Mechanics Gravitational Potential Energy Zero of Potential Introductory Physics

Students examine a plastic “surface” graph of the gravitational potential energy of an Earth-satellite system to explore the properties of gravitational potential energy for a spherically symmetric system.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Operators & Functions
Quantum Fundamentals 2023 (3 years) Students are asked to:
  • Test to see if one of the given functions is an eigenfunction of the given operator
  • See if they can write the functions that are found not to be eigenfunctions as a linear combination of eigenfunctions.

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Position operator
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

quantum mechanics operator matrix element particle in a box eigenfunction

Students find matrix elements of the position operator \(\hat x\) in a sinusoidal basis. This allows them to express this operator as a matrix, which they can then numerically diagonalize and visualize the eigenfunctions.

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.

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.

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.