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Activities

Small Group Activity

60 min.

Gravitational Potential Energy
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.
Consider a column of atoms each of mass \(M\) at temperature \(T\) in a uniform gravitational field \(g\). Find the thermal average potential energy per atom. The thermal average kinetic energy is independent of height. Find the total heat capacity per atom. The total heat capacity is the sum of contributions from the kinetic energy and from the potential energy. Take the zero of the gravitational energy at the bottom \(h=0\) of the column. Integrate from \(h=0\) to \(h=\infty\). You may assume the gas is ideal.

In this course, two of the primary examples we will be using are the potential due to gravity and the potential due to an electric charge. Both of these forces vary like \(\frac{1}{r}\), so they will have many, many similarities. Most of the calculations we do for the one case will be true for the other. But there are some extremely important differences:

  1. Find the value of the electrostatic potential energy of a system consisting of a hydrogen nucleus and an electron separated by the Bohr radius. Find the value of the gravitational potential energy of the same two particles at the same radius. Use the same system of units in both cases. Compare and the contrast the two answers.
  2. Find the value of the electrostatic potential due to the nucleus of a hydrogen atom at the Bohr radius. Find the gravitational potential due to the nucleus at the same radius. Use the same system of units in both cases. Compare and contrast the two answers.
  3. Briefly discuss at least one other fundamental difference between electromagnetic and gravitational systems. Hint: Why are we bound to the earth gravitationally, but not electromagnetically?

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving course(s)
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.
These notes from the fifth week of https://paradigms.oregonstate.edu/courses/ph441 cover the grand canonical ensemble. They include several small group activities.

Computational Activity

120 min.

Electrostatic potential of spherical shell
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.
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). This activity can be paired with activity 29 to find the limiting cases of the potential on the axes of symmetry.
Students write python programs to compute the potential due to a square of surface charge, and then to visualize the result. This activity can be used to introduce students to the process of integrating numerically.

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[\vec{A}(\vec{r}) =\frac{\mu_0}{4\pi}\int\frac{\vec{J}(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert}\, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the magnetic vector potential, \(\vec{A}(\vec{r})\), due to a spinning ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{A}(\vec{r})\) 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.

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.

Computational Activity

120 min.

Electrostatic potential of four point charges
Students write python programs to compute and visualize the potential due to four point charges. For students with minimal programming ability and no python experience, this activity can be a good introduction to writing code in python using numpy and matplotlib.
  • electrostatic potential python
    Found in: Computational Physics Lab II course(s) Found in: Computational integrating charge distributions sequence(s)

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Gravitational Force
Students examine a plastic "surface" graph of the gravitational potential energy of a Earth-satellite system to make connections between gravitational force and gravitational potential energy.

Whole Class Activity

10 min.

Air Hockey
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.
  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 \(U\).

The goal of this problem is to show that once we have maximized the entropy and found the microstate probabilities in terms of a Lagrange multiplier \(\beta\), we can prove that \(\beta=\frac1{kT}\) based on the statistical definitions of energy and entropy and the thermodynamic definition of temperature embodied in the thermodynamic identity.

The internal energy and entropy are each defined as a weighted average over microstates: \begin{align} U &= \sum_i E_i P_i & S &= -k_B\sum_i P_i \ln P_i \end{align}: We saw in clase that the probability of each microstate can be given in terms of a Lagrange multiplier \(\beta\) as \begin{align} P_i &= \frac{e^{-\beta E_i}}{Z} & Z &= \sum_i e^{-\beta E_i} \end{align} Put these probabilities into the above weighted averages in order to relate \(U\) and \(S\) to \(\beta\). Then make use of the thermodynamic identity \begin{align} dU = TdS - pdV \end{align} to show that \(\beta = \frac1{kT}\).

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Changes in Internal Energy
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.
A short lecture introducing the idea that most of the energy loss when driving is going into the kinetic energy of the air.

You are given the following Gibbs free energy: \begin{equation*} G=-k T N \ln \left(\frac{a T^{5 / 2}}{p}\right) \end{equation*} where \(a\) is a constant (whose dimensions make the argument of the logarithm dimensionless).

  1. Compute the entropy.

  2. Work out the heat capacity at constant pressure \(C_p\).

  3. Find the connection among \(V\), \(p\), \(N\), and \(T\), which is called the equation of state (Hint: find the volume as a partial derivative of the Gibbs free energy).

  4. Compute the internal energy \(U\).

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.

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.
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 \((\cdots)^2\).

Lecture

30 min.

Energy and heat and entropy
This short lecture introduces the ideas required for Ice Calorimetry Lab or Microwave oven Ice Calorimetry Lab.

Problem

Centrifuge
A circular cylinder of radius \(R\) rotates about the long axis with angular velocity \(\omega\). The cylinder contains an ideal gas of atoms of mass \(M\) at temperature \(T\). Find an expression for the dependence of the concentration \(n(r)\) on the radial distance \(r\) from the axis, in terms of \(n(0)\) on the axis. Take \(\mu\) as for an ideal gas.

Small White Board Question

10 min.

Electrostatic Potential Due to a Point Charge

Write the equation for the electrostatic potential due to a point charge.

Instructor's Guide

Prerequisite Knowledge

Students will usually have seen the electrostatic potential due to a point charge in their introductory course, but may have trouble recalling it.

Whole-Class Conversations

As students try to remember the formula, many will conflate potential, potential energy, force, and electric field. Their answers may have some aspects of each of these. We use this question to get the iconic equation into the students' working memory in preparation for subsequent activities. This question also be used to help student disambiguate these different physical quantities.

Correct answers you're likely to see

\[V=\frac{kq}{r}\]

\[V=\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\frac{q}{r}\] You may want to discuss which constants to use in which contexts, e.g. \(k\) is short and easy to write, but may be conflated with other uses of \(k\) in a give problem whereas \(\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\) assumes you are working in a particular system of units.

Incorrect answers you're likely to see

  • Two charges instead of one \[\cancel{V=\frac{kq_{1}q_{2}}{r}}\]
  • Distance squared in the denominator \[\cancel{V=\frac{kq}{r^2}}\]
  • Vector values \[\cancel{V=\frac{kq\, \hat r}{r}}\]

Possible follow-up questions to help with the disambiguation:

  • Relationship between potential and potential energy \(U = qV\)
  • Which function is the derivative of the other: \(1/r\) or \(1/r^2\)?
  • Which physical quantity (potential or electric field, potential energy or force) is the derivative of the other?
  • What is the electrostatic potential conceptually?
  • Which function falls off faster: \(1/r\) or \(1/r^2\)?
  • What are the dimensions of potential? Units?
  • Where is the zero of potential?

Wrap-up

  • This could be a good time to refer to the (correct) expression for the potential as an iconic equation, which will need to be further interpreted (”unpacked”) in particular physical situations. This is where the course is going next.
  • This SWBQ can also serve to help students learn about recall as a cognitive activity. While parts of the equations that students write may be incorrect, many other parts will be correct. Let the way in which you manage the class discussion model for the students how a professional goes about quickly disambiguating several different choices. And TELL the students that this is what you are doing. Deliberately invoke their metacognition.
  • Many students may not know that the electrostatic potential that we are talking about in this activity is the same quantity as what a voltmeter reads, in principle, but not in practice. You may need to talk about how a voltmeter actually works, rather than idealizing it. It helps to have a voltmeter with leads as a prop. Students often want to know about the “ground” lead. We often tie a long string to it (to symbolize making a really long wire) and send the TA out of the room with the string, “headed off to infinity” while discussing the importance of setting the zero of potential. The extra minute or two of humerous byplay gives the importance of the zero of potential a chance to sink in.

We use this small whiteboard question as a transition between The Distance Formula (Star Trek) activity, where students are learning about how to describe (algebraically) the geometric distance between two points, and the Electrostatic Potential Due to a Pair of Charges (with Series) activity, where students are using these results and the superposition principle to find the electrostatic potential due to two point charges.

This activity is the initial activity in the sequence Visualizing Scalar Fields addressing the representations of scalar fields in the context of electrostatics.

  • Found in: Static Fields course(s) Found in: Warm-Up, E&M Ring Cycle Sequence sequence(s)

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Murder Mystery Method
For each of the following vector fields, find a potential function if one exists, or argue that none exists.
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{F}} = (3x^2 + \tan y)\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + (3y^2 + x\sec^2 y) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\)
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{G}} = y\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} - x\,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\)
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{H}} = (2xy + y^2 \sin z) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + (x^2 + z + 2xy\sin z) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}} + (y + z + xy^2 \cos z) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\)
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{K}} = yz \,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + xz \,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\)

Main ideas

  • Finding potential functions.

Students love this activity. Some groups will finish in 10 minutes or less; few will require as much as 30 minutes. *

Prerequisites

  • Fundamental Theorem for line integrals
  • The Murder Mystery Method

Warmup

none

Props

  • whiteboards and pens

Wrapup

  • Revisit integrating conservative vector fields along various paths, including reversing the orientation and integrating around closed paths.


Details

In the Classroom

  • We recommend having the students work in groups of 2 on this activity, and not having them turn anything in.
  • Most students will treat the last example as 2-dimensional, giving the answer \(xyz\). Ask these students to check their work by taking the gradient; most will include a \(\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\) term. Let them think this through. The correct answer of course depends on whether one assumes that \(z\) is constant; we have deliberately left this ambiguous.
  • It is good and proper that students want to add together multivariable terms. Keep returning to the gradient, something they know well. It is better to discover the guidelines themselves.

Subsidiary ideas

  • 3-d vector fields do not necessarily have a \(\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\)-component!

Homework

A challenging question to ponder is why a surface fails to exist for nonconservative fields. Using an example such as \(y\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}}+\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\), prompt students to plot the field and examine its magnitude at various locations. Suggest piecing together level sets. There is serious geometry lurking that entails smoothness. Wrestling with this is healthy.

Essay questions

Write 3-5 sentences describing the connection between derivatives and integrals in the single-variable case. In other words, what is the one-dimensional version of MMM? Emphasize that much of vector calculus is generalizing concepts from single-variable theory.

Enrichment

  • The derivative check for conservative vector fields can be described using the same type of diagrams as used in the Murder Mystery Method; this is just moving down the diagram (via differentiation) from the row containing the components of the vector field, rather than moving up (via integration). We believe this should not be mentioned until after this lab.

    When done in 3-d, this makes a nice introduction to curl --- which however is not needed until one is ready to do Stokes' Theorem. We would therefore recommend delaying this entire discussion, including the 2-d case, until then.

  • Work out the Murder Mystery Method using polar basis vectors, by reversing the process of taking the gradient in this basis.
  • Revisit the example in the Ampère's Law lab, using the Fundamental Theorem to explain the results. This can be done without reference to a basis, but it is worth computing \(\boldsymbol{\vec\nabla}\phi\) in a polar basis.

Lecture

120 min.

Ideal Gas
These notes from week 6 of https://paradigms.oregonstate.edu/courses/ph441 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.
  1. Find the chemical potential of an ideal monatomic gas in two dimensions, with \(N\) atoms confined to a square of area \(A=L^2\). The spin is zero.

  2. Find an expression for the energy \(U\) of the gas.

  3. Find an expression for the entropy \(\sigma\). The temperature is \(kT\).

The electrostatic potential due to a point charge at the origin is given by: \begin{equation*} V=\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0} \frac{q}{r} \end{equation*}

  1. (2pts) Find the electric field due to a point charge at the origin as a gradient in rectangular coordinates.
  2. (2pts) Find the electric field due to a point charge at the origin as a gradient in spherical coordinates.
  3. (2pts) Find the electric field due to a point charge at the origin as a gradient in cylindrical coordinates.

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Gradient Sequence sequence(s)

The concentration of potassium \(\text{K}^+\) ions in the internal sap of a plant cell (for example, a fresh water alga) may exceed by a factor of \(10^4\) the concentration of \(\text{K}^+\) ions in the pond water in which the cell is growing. The chemical potential of the \(\text{K}^+\) ions is higher in the sap because their concentration \(n\) is higher there. Estimate the difference in chemical potential at \(300\text{K}\) and show that it is equivalent to a voltage of \(0.24\text{V}\) across the cell wall. Take \(\mu\) as for an ideal gas. Because the values of the chemical potential are different, the ions in the cell and in the pond are not in diffusive equilibrium. The plant cell membrane is highly impermeable to the passive leakage of ions through it. Important questions in cell physics include these: How is the high concentration of ions built up within the cell? How is metabolic energy applied to energize the active ion transport?

David adds
You might wonder why it is even remotely plausible to consider the ions in solution as an ideal gas. The key idea here is that the ideal gas entropy incorporates the entropy due to position dependence, and thus due to concentration. Since concentration is what differs between the cell and the pond, the ideal gas entropy describes this pretty effectively. In contrast to the concentration dependence, the temperature-dependence of the ideal gas chemical potential will not be so great.

(4pts) Find the electric field around an infinite, uniformly charged, straight wire, starting from the following expression for the electrostatic potential: \begin{equation*} V(\vec r)=\frac{2\lambda}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\, \ln\left( \frac{ s_0}{s} \right) \end{equation*}

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Gradient Sequence sequence(s)

See also the following more detailed problem and solution: Effective Potentials: Graphical Version

An electron is moving on a two dimension surface with a radially symmetric electrostatic potential given by the graph below:

  1. Sketch the effective potential if the angular momentum is not zero.
  2. Describe qualitatively, the shapes of all possible types of orbits, indicating the energy for each in your diagram.

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)

Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Effective Potentials
Students use a pre-written Mathematica notebook or a Geogebra applet to explore how the shape of the effective potential function changes as the various parameters (angular momentum, force constant, reduced mass) are varied.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Potential of Two Charged Plates
Students examine a plastic "surface" graph of the electric potential due to two charged plates (near the center of the plates) and explore the properties of the electric potential.

Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Using Technology to Visualize Potentials
Begin by prompting the students to brainstorm different ways to represent a three dimensional scalar field on a 2-D surface (like their paper or a whiteboard). The students use a pre-made Sage code or a Mathematica worksheet to visualize the electrostatic potential of several distributions of charges. The computer algebra systems demonstrate several different ways of plotting the potential.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Charged Sphere
Students use a plastic surface representing the potential due to a charged sphere to explore the electrostatic potential, equipotential lines, and the relationship between potential and electric field.
  1. Find the entropy of a set of \(N\) oscillators of frequency \(\omega\) as a function of the total quantum number \(n\). Use the multiplicity function: \begin{equation} g(N,n) = \frac{(N+n-1)!}{n!(N-1)!} \end{equation} and assume that \(N\gg 1\). This means you can make the Sitrling approximation that \(\log N! \approx N\log N - N\). It also means that \(N-1 \approx N\).

  2. Let \(U\) denote the total energy \(n\hbar\omega\) of the oscillators. Express the entropy as \(S(U,N)\). Show that the total energy at temperature \(T\) is \begin{equation} U = \frac{N\hbar\omega}{e^{\frac{\hbar\omega}{kT}}-1} \end{equation} This is the Planck result found the hard way. We will get to the easy way soon, and you will never again need to work with a multiplicity function like this.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Energy radiated from one oscillator
This lecture is one step in motivating the form of the Planck distribution.

Problem

5 min.

Bottle in a Bottle

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?

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?

Consider a system which has an internal energy \(U\) defined by: \begin{align} U &= \gamma V^\alpha S^\beta \end{align} where \(\alpha\), \(\beta\) and \(\gamma\) are constants. The internal energy is an extensive quantity. What constraint does this place on the values \(\alpha\) and \(\beta\) may have?

  • Found in: Energy and Entropy course(s)

(Messy algebra) Purpose: Convince yourself that the expressions for kinetic energy in original and center of mass coordinates are equivalent. The same for angular momentum.

Consider a system of two particles of mass \(m_1\) and \(m_2\).

  1. Show that the total kinetic energy of the system is the same as that of two “fictitious” particles: one of mass \(M=m_1+m_2\) moving with the velocity of the center of mass and one of mass \(\mu\) (the reduced mass) moving with the velocity of the relative position.
  2. Show that the total angular momentum of the system can similarly be decomposed into the angular momenta of these two fictitious particles.

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)
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?
The Gibbs free energy, \(G\), is given by \begin{align*} G = U + pV - TS. \end{align*}
  1. Find the total differential of \(G\). As always, show your work.
  2. Interpret the coefficients of the total differential \(dG\) in order to find a derivative expression for the entropy \(S\).
  3. From the total differential \(dG\), obtain a different thermodynamic derivative that is equal to \[ \left(\frac{\partial {S}}{\partial {p}}\right)_{T} \]

The goal of this problem is to show that once we have maximized the entropy and found the microstate probabilities in terms of a Lagrange multiplier \(\beta\), we can prove that \(\beta=\frac1{kT}\) based on the statistical definitions of energy and entropy and the thermodynamic definition of temperature embodied in the thermodynamic identity.

The internal energy and entropy are each defined as a weighted average over microstates: \begin{align} U &= \sum_i E_i P_i & S &= -k_B\sum_i P_i \ln P_i \end{align} We saw in clase that the probability of each microstate can be given in terms of a Lagrange multiplier \(\beta\) as \begin{align} P_i &= \frac{e^{-\beta E_i}}{Z} & Z &= \sum_i e^{-\beta E_i} \end{align} Put these probabilities into the above weighted averages in order to relate \(U\) and \(S\) to \(\beta\). Then make use of the thermodynamic identity \begin{align} dU = TdS - pdV \end{align} to show that \(\beta = \frac1{kT}\).

  • Found in: Thermal and Statistical Physics course(s)

Suppose \(g(U) = CU^{3N/2}\), where \(C\) is a constant and \(N\) is the number of particles.

  1. Show that \(U=\frac32 N k_BT\).

  2. Show that \(\left(\frac{\partial^2S}{\partial U^2}\right)_N\) is negative. This form of \(g(U)\) actually applies to a monatomic ideal gas.

These notes, from the third week of https://paradigms.oregonstate.edu/courses/ph441 cover the canonical ensemble and Helmholtz free energy. They include a number of small group activities.

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}

Problem

Paramagnetism
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.
  1. Consider a system that may be unoccupied with energy zero, or occupied by one particle in either of two states, one of energy zero and one of energy \(\varepsilon\). Find the Gibbs sum for this system is in terms of the activity \(\lambda\equiv e^{\beta\mu}\). Note that the system can hold a maximum of one particle.

  2. Solve for the thermal average occupancy of the system in terms of \(\lambda\).

  3. Show that the thermal average occupancy of the state at energy \(\varepsilon\) is \begin{align} \langle N(\varepsilon)\rangle = \frac{\lambda e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}}}{\mathcal{Z}} \end{align}

  4. Find an expression for the thermal average energy of the system.

  5. Allow the possibility that the orbitals at \(0\) and at \(\varepsilon\) may each be occupied each by one particle at the same time; Show that \begin{align} \mathcal{Z} &= 1 + \lambda + \lambda e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}} + \lambda^2 e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}} \\ &= (1+\lambda)\left(1+e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}}\right) \end{align} Because \(\mathcal{Z}\) can be factored as shown, we have in effect two independent systems.

For electrons with an energy \(\varepsilon\gg mc^2\), where \(m\) is the mass of the electron, the energy is given by \(\varepsilon\approx pc\) where \(p\) is the momentum. For electrons in a cube of volume \(V=L^3\) the momentum takes the same values as for a non-relativistic particle in a box.

  1. Show that in this extreme relativistic limit the Fermi energy of a gas of \(N\) electrons is given by \begin{align} \varepsilon_F &= \hbar\pi c\left(\frac{3n}{\pi}\right)^{\frac13} \end{align} where \(n\equiv \frac{N}{V}\) is the number density.

  2. Show that the total energy of the ground state of the gas is \begin{align} U_0 &= \frac34 N\varepsilon_F \end{align}