keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Kinetic energy
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

finite difference hamiltonian quantum mechanics particle in a box eigenfunctions

Students implement a finite-difference approximation for the kinetic energy operator as a matrix, and then use numpy to solve for eigenvalues and eigenstates, which they visualize.

assignment Homework

Sum Shift
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

In each of the following sums, shift the index \(n\rightarrow n+2\). Don't forget to shift the limits of the sum as well. Then write out all of the terms in the sum (if the sum has a finite number of terms) or the first five terms in the sum (if the sum has an infinite number of terms) and convince yourself that the two different expressions for each sum are the same:

  1. \begin{equation} \sum_{n=0}^3 n \end{equation}
  2. \begin{equation} \sum_{n=1}^5 e^{in\phi} \end{equation}
  3. \begin{equation} \sum_{n=0}^{\infty} a_n n(n-1)z^{n-2} \end{equation}

assignment Homework

Find Area/Volume from \(d\vec{r}\)
Static Fields 2022 (4 years)

Start with \(d\vec{r}\) in rectangular, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates. Use these expressions to write the scalar area elements \(dA\) (for different coordinate equals constant surfaces) and the volume element \(d\tau\). It might help you to think of the following surfaces: The various sides of a rectangular box, a finite cylinder with a top and a bottom, a half cylinder, and a hemisphere with both a curved and a flat side, and a cone.

  1. Rectangular: \begin{align} dA&=\\ d\tau&= \end{align}
  2. Cylindrical: \begin{align} dA&=\\ d\tau&= \end{align}
  3. Spherical: \begin{align} dA&=\\ d\tau&= \end{align}

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.

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.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Using \(pV\) and \(TS\) Plots
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

work heat first law energy

Students work out heat and work for rectangular paths on \(pV\) and \(TS\) plots. This gives with computing heat and work, applying the First Law, and recognizing that internal energy is a state function, which cannot change after a cyclic process.

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.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Ring of Charge
Static Fields 2022 (7 years)

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

Power Series Sequence (E&M)

Ring Cycle Sequence

Warm-Up

Students work in groups of three 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.

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.

Fermi and Bose gases
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Fermi level fermion boson Bose gas Bose-Einstein condensate ideal gas statistical mechanics phase transition

These lecture notes from week 7 of Thermal and Statistical Physics apply the grand canonical ensemble to fermion and bosons ideal gasses. They include a few 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.