group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Hydrogen emission
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (5 years)

hydrogen atom photon energy

In this activity students work out energy level transitions in hydrogen that lead to visible light.

accessibility_new Kinesthetic

5 min.

Time Dilation Light Clock Skit

Special Relativity Time Dilation Light Clock Kinesthetic Activity

Students act out the classic light clock scenario for deriving time dilation.

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

Heat capacity of vacuum
Heat capacity entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020
  1. Solve for the heat capacity of a vacuum, given the above, and assuming that photons represent all the energy present in vacuum.
  2. Compare the heat capacity of vacuum at room temperature with the heat capacity of an equal volume of water.

computer Computer Simulation

30 min.

Blackbody PhET
Contemporary Challenges 2022 (4 years)

blackbody

Students use a PhET to explore properties of the Planck distribution.

assignment Homework

Radiation in an empty box
Thermal physics Radiation Free energy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

As discussed in class, we can consider a black body as a large box with a small hole in it. If we treat the large box a metal cube with side length \(L\) and metal walls, the frequency of each normal mode will be given by: \begin{align} \omega_{n_xn_yn_z} &= \frac{\pi c}{L}\sqrt{n_x^2 + n_y^2 + n_z^2} \end{align} where each of \(n_x\), \(n_y\), and \(n_z\) will have positive integer values. This simply comes from the fact that a half wavelength must fit in the box. There is an additional quantum number for polarization, which has two possible values, but does not affect the frequency. Note that in this problem I'm using different boundary conditions from what I use in class. It is worth learning to work with either set of quantum numbers. Each normal mode is a harmonic oscillator, with energy eigenstates \(E_n = n\hbar\omega\) where we will not include the zero-point energy \(\frac12\hbar\omega\), since that energy cannot be extracted from the box. (See the Casimir effect for an example where the zero point energy of photon modes does have an effect.)

Note
This is a slight approximation, as the boundary conditions for light are a bit more complicated. However, for large \(n\) values this gives the correct result.

  1. Show that the free energy is given by \begin{align} F &= 8\pi \frac{V(kT)^4}{h^3c^3} \int_0^\infty \ln\left(1-e^{-\xi}\right)\xi^2d\xi \\ &= -\frac{8\pi^5}{45} \frac{V(kT)^4}{h^3c^3} \\ &= -\frac{\pi^2}{45} \frac{V(kT)^4}{\hbar^3c^3} \end{align} provided the box is big enough that \(\frac{\hbar c}{LkT}\ll 1\). Note that you may end up with a slightly different dimensionless integral that numerically evaluates to the same result, which would be fine. I also do not expect you to solve this definite integral analytically, a numerical confirmation is fine. However, you must manipulate your integral until it is dimensionless and has all the dimensionful quantities removed from it!

  2. Show that the entropy of this box full of photons at temperature \(T\) is \begin{align} S &= \frac{32\pi^5}{45} k V \left(\frac{kT}{hc}\right)^3 \\ &= \frac{4\pi^2}{45} k V \left(\frac{kT}{\hbar c}\right)^3 \end{align}

  3. Show that the internal energy of this box full of photons at temperature \(T\) is \begin{align} \frac{U}{V} &= \frac{8\pi^5}{15}\frac{(kT)^4}{h^3c^3} \\ &= \frac{\pi^2}{15}\frac{(kT)^4}{\hbar^3c^3} \end{align}

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ideal Gas
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

ideal gas particle in a box grand canonical ensemble chemical potential statistical mechanics

These notes from week 6 of Thermal and Statistical Physics cover the ideal gas from a grand canonical standpoint starting with the solutions to a particle in a three-dimensional box. They include a number of small group activities.

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.