assignment Homework

Bottle in a Bottle 2
heat entropy ideal gas Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

Consider the bottle in a bottle problem in a previous problem set, summarized here.

A small bottle of helium is placed inside a large bottle, which otherwise contains vacuum. The inner bottle contains a slow leak, so that the helium leaks into the outer bottle. The inner bottle contains one tenth the volume of the outer bottle, which is insulated.

The volume of the small bottle is 0.001 m23 and the volume of the big bottle is 0.01 m3. The initial state of the gas in the small bottle was \(p=106\) Pa and its temperature \(T=300\) K. Approximate the helium gas as an ideal gas of equations of state \(pV=Nk_BT\) and \(U=\frac32 Nk_BT\).

  1. How many molecules of gas does the large bottle contain? What is the final temperature of the gas?

  2. Compute the integral \(\int \frac{{\mathit{\unicode{273}}} Q}{T}\) and the change of entropy \(\Delta S\) between the initial state (gas in the small bottle) and the final state (gas leaked in the big bottle).

  3. Discuss your results.

assignment Homework

Light bulb in a refrigerator
Carnot refridgerator Work Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 A 100W light bulb is left burning inside a Carnot refridgerator that draws 100W. Can the refridgerator cool below room temperature?

face Lecture

30 min.

Introducing entropy
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (4 years)

entropy multiplicity heat thermodynamics

This lecture introduces the idea of entropy, including the relationship between entropy and multiplicity as well as the relationship between changes in entropy and heat.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Changes in Internal Energy (Remote)

Thermo Internal Energy 1st Law of Thermodynamics


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.

assignment Homework

Calculation of \(\frac{dT}{dp}\) for water
Clausius-Clapeyron Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Calculate based on the Clausius-Clapeyron equation the value of \(\frac{dT}{dp}\) near \(p=1\text{atm}\) for the liquid-vapor equilibrium of water. The heat of vaporization at \(100^\circ\text{C}\) is \(2260\text{ J g}^{-1}\). Express the result in kelvin/atm.

assignment Homework

Ideal gas calculations
Ideal gas Entropy Sackur-Tetrode Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Consider one mole of an ideal monatomic gas at 300K and 1 atm. First, let the gas expand isothermally and reversibly to twice the initial volume; second, let this be followed by an isentropic expansion from twice to four times the original volume.

  1. How much heat (in joules) is added to the gas in each of these two processes?

  2. What is the temperature at the end of the second process?

  3. Suppose the first process is replaced by an irreversible expansion into a vacuum, to a total volume twice the initial volume. What is the increase of entropy in the irreversible expansion, in J/K?

assignment Homework

Bottle in a Bottle
irreversible helium internal energy work first law Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

The internal energy of helium gas at temperature \(T\) is to a very good approximation given by \begin{align} U &= \frac32 Nk_BT \end{align}

Consider a very irreversible process in which a small bottle of helium is placed inside a large bottle, which otherwise contains vacuum. The inner bottle contains a slow leak, so that the helium leaks into the outer bottle. The inner bottle contains one tenth the volume of the outer bottle, which is insulated. What is the change in temperature when this process is complete? How much of the helium will remain in the small bottle?

assignment Homework

Power Plant on a River
efficiency heat engine carnot Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

At a power plant that produces 1 GW (\(10^{9} \text{watts}\)) of electricity, the steam turbines take in steam at a temperature of \(500^{o}C\), and the waste energy is expelled into the environment at \(20^{o}C\).

  1. What is the maximum possible efficiency of this plant?

  2. Suppose you arrange the power plant to expel its waste energy into a chilly mountain river at \(15^oC\). Roughly how much money can you make in a year by installing your improved hardware, if you sell the additional electricity for 10 cents per kilowatt-hour?

  3. At what rate will the plant expel waste energy into this river?

  4. Assume the river's flow rate is 100 m\(^{3}/\)s. By how much will the temperature of the river increase?

  5. To avoid this “thermal pollution” of the river the plant could instead be cooled by evaporation of river water. This is more expensive, but it is environmentally preferable. At what rate must the water evaporate? What fraction of the river must be evaporated?

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

Free energy of a harmonic oscillator
Helmholtz free energy harmonic oscillator Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

A one-dimensional harmonic oscillator has an infinite series of equally spaced energy states, with \(\varepsilon_n = n\hbar\omega\), where \(n\) is an integer \(\ge 0\), and \(\omega\) is the classical frequency of the oscillator. We have chosen the zero of energy at the state \(n=0\) which we can get away with here, but is not actually the zero of energy! To find the true energy we would have to add a \(\frac12\hbar\omega\) for each oscillator.

  1. Show that for a harmonic oscillator the free energy is \begin{equation} F = k_BT\log\left(1 - e^{-\frac{\hbar\omega}{k_BT}}\right) \end{equation} Note that at high temperatures such that \(k_BT\gg\hbar\omega\) we may expand the argument of the logarithm to obtain \(F\approx k_BT\log\left(\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}\right)\).

  2. From the free energy above, show that the entropy is \begin{equation} \frac{S}{k_B} = \frac{\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}{e^{\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}-1} - \log\left(1-e^{-\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}\right) \end{equation}

    Entropy of a simple harmonic oscillator
    Heat capacity of a simple harmonic oscillator
    This entropy is shown in the nearby figure, as well as the heat capacity.

assignment Homework

Adiabatic Compression
ideal gas internal energy engine Energy and Entropy 2020

A diesel engine requires no spark plug. Rather, the air in the cylinder is compressed so highly that the fuel ignites spontaneously when sprayed into the cylinder.

In this problem, you may treat air as an ideal gas, which satisfies the equation \(pV = Nk_BT\). You may also use the property of an ideal gas that the internal energy depends only on the temperature \(T\), i.e. the internal energy does not change for an isothermal process. For air at the relevant range of temperatures the heat capacity at fixed volume is given by \(C_V=\frac52Nk_B\), which means the internal energy is given by \(U=\frac52Nk_BT\).

Note: in this problem you are expected to use only the equations given and fundamental physics laws. Looking up the formula in a textbook is not considered a solution at this level.

  1. If the air is initially at room temperature (taken as \(20^{o}C\)) and is then compressed adiabatically to \(\frac1{15}\) of the original volume, what final temperature is attained (before fuel injection)?

  2. By what factor does the pressure increase?

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Name the experiment
Energy and Entropy 2021 (3 years)

partial derivatives experiment thermodynamics

Student groups design an experiment that measures an assigned partial derivative. In a compare-and-contrast wrap-up, groups report on how they would measure their derivatives.

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 \((\cdots)^2\).

face Lecture

30 min.

Equipartition theorem
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (4 years)

equipartition heat capacity

This lecture introduces the equipartition theorem.

assignment Homework

Energy Temperature Paramagnetism Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Find the equilibrium value at temperature \(T\) of the fractional magnetization \begin{equation} \frac{\mu_{tot}}{Nm} \equiv \frac{2\langle s\rangle}{N} \end{equation} of a system of \(N\) spins each of magnetic moment \(m\) in a magnetic field \(B\). The spin excess is \(2s\). The energy of this system is given by \begin{align} U &= -\mu_{tot}B \end{align} where \(\mu_{tot}\) is the total magnetization. Take the entropy as the logarithm of the multiplicity \(g(N,s)\) as given in (1.35 in the text): \begin{equation} S(s) \approx k_B\log g(N,0) - k_B\frac{2s^2}{N} \end{equation} for \(|s|\ll N\), where \(s\) is the spin excess, which is related to the magnetization by \(\mu_{tot} = 2sm\). Hint: Show that in this approximation \begin{equation} S(U) = S_0 - k_B\frac{U^2}{2m^2B^2N}, \end{equation} with \(S_0=k_B\log g(N,0)\). Further, show that \(\frac1{kT} = -\frac{U}{m^2B^2N}\), where \(U\) denotes \(\langle U\rangle\), the thermal average energy.

assignment Homework

Photon carnot engine
Carnot engine Work Energy Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

In our week on radiation, we saw that the Helmholtz free energy of a box of radiation at temperature \(T\) is \begin{align} F &= -8\pi \frac{V(kT)^4}{h^3c^3}\frac{\pi^4}{45} \end{align} From this we also found the internal energy and entropy \begin{align} U &= 24\pi \frac{(kT)^4}{h^3c^3}\frac{\pi^4}{45} V \\ S &= 32\pi kV\left(\frac{kT}{hc}\right)^3 \frac{\pi^4}{45} \end{align} Given these results, let us consider a Carnot engine that uses an empty metalic piston (i.e. a photon gas).

  1. Given \(T_H\) and \(T_C\), as well as \(V_1\) and \(V_2\) (the two volumes at \(T_H\)), determine \(V_3\) and \(V_4\) (the two volumes at \(T_C\)).

  2. What is the heat \(Q_H\) taken up and the work done by the gas during the first isothermal expansion? Are they equal to each other, as for the ideal gas?

  3. Does the work done on the two isentropic stages cancel each other, as for the ideal gas?

  4. Calculate the total work done by the gas during one cycle. Compare it with the heat taken up at \(T_H\) and show that the energy conversion efficiency is the Carnot efficiency.

grading Quiz

60 min.

Free expansion
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

adiabatic expansion entropy temperature ideal gas

Students will determine the change in entropy (positive, negative, or none) for both the system and surroundings in three different cases. This is followed by an active whole-class discussion about where the entropy comes from during an irreversible process.

assignment Homework

Derivatives from Data (NIST)
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years) Use the NIST web site “Thermophysical Properties of Fluid Systems” to answer the following questions. This site is an excellent resource for finding experimentally measured properties of fluids.
  1. Find the partial derivatives \[\left(\frac{\partial {S}}{\partial {T}}\right)_{p}\] \[\left(\frac{\partial {S}}{\partial {T}}\right)_{V}\] where \(p\) is the pressure, \(V\) is the volume, \(S\) is the entropy, and \(T\) is the temperature. Please find these derivatives for one gram of methanol at one atmosphere of pressure and at room temperature.
  2. Why does it take only two variables to define the state?
  3. Why are the derivatives above different?
  4. What do the words isobaric, isothermal, and isochoric mean?

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.

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.