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Symmetry of filled and vacant orbitals
Symmetry Orbitals Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Show that \begin{align} f(\mu+\delta) &= 1 - f(\mu-\delta) \end{align} This means that the probability that an orbital above the Fermi level is occupied is equal to the probability an orbital the same distance below the Fermi level being empty. These unoccupied orbitals are called holes.

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Find Force Law: Logarithmic Spiral Orbit
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

In science fiction movies, characters often talk about a spaceship “spiralling in” right before it hits the planet. But all orbits in a \(1/r^2\) force are conic sections, not spirals. This spiralling in happens because the spaceship hits atmosphere and the drag from the atmosphere changes the shape of the orbit. But, in an alternate universe, we might have other force laws.

Find the force law for a mass \(\mu\), under the influence of a central-force field, that moves in a logarithmic spiral orbit given by \(r = ke^{\alpha \phi}\), where \(k\) and \(\alpha\) are constants.

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Gibbs entropy is extensive
Gibbs entropy Probability Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Consider two noninteracting systems \(A\) and \(B\). We can either treat these systems as separate, or as a single combined system \(AB\). We can enumerate all states of the combined by enumerating all states of each separate system. The probability of the combined state \((i_A,j_B)\) is given by \(P_{ij}^{AB} = P_i^AP_j^B\). In other words, the probabilities combine in the same way as two dice rolls would, or the probabilities of any other uncorrelated events.

  1. Show that the entropy of the combined system \(S_{AB}\) is the sum of entropies of the two separate systems considered individually, i.e. \(S_{AB} = S_A+S_B\). This means that entropy is extensive. Use the Gibbs entropy for this computation. You need make no approximation in solving this problem.
  2. Show that if you have \(N\) identical non-interacting systems, their total entropy is \(NS_1\) where \(S_1\) is the entropy of a single system.

Note
In real materials, we treat properties as being extensive even when there are interactions in the system. In this case, extensivity is a property of large systems, in which surface effects may be neglected.

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Circle Trigonometry
trigonometry cosine sine math circle Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

On the following diagrams, mark both \(\theta\) and \(\sin\theta\) for \(\theta_1=\frac{5\pi}{6}\) and \(\theta_2=\frac{7\pi}{6}\). Write one to three sentences about how these two representations are related to each other. (For example, see: this PHET)

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Fluctuations in a Fermi gas
Fermi gas grand canonical ensemble statistical mechanics Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 (K&K 7.11) Show for a single orbital of a fermion system that \begin{align} \left<(\Delta N)^2\right> = \left<N\right>(1+\left<N\right>) \end{align} if \(\left<N\right>\) is the average number of fermions in that orbital. Notice that the fluctuation vanishes for orbitals with energies far enough from the chemical potential \(\mu\) so that \(\left<N\right>=1\) or \(\left<N\right>=0\).

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Total Current, Square Cross-Section

Integration Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)
  1. Current \(I\) flows down a wire with square cross-section. The length of the square side is \(L\). If the current is uniformly distributed over the entire area, find the current density .
  2. If the current is uniformly distributed over the outer surface only, find the current density .

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Entropy and Temperature
Energy Temperature Ideal gas Entropy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

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.

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Coffees and Bagels and Net Worth
Energy and Entropy 2021 (2 years)

In economics, the term utility is roughly related to overall happiness. Many things affect your happiness, including the amount of money you have and the amount of coffee you drink. We cannot directly measure your happiness, but we can measure how much money you are willing to give up in order to obtain coffee or bagels. If we assume you choose wisely, we can thus determine that your happiness increases when you decrease your amount of money by that amount in exchange for increasing your coffee consumption. Thus money is a (poor) measure of happiness or utility.

Money is also a nice quantity because it is conserved---just like energy! You may gain or lose money, but you always do so by a transaction. (There are some exceptions to the conservation of money, but they involve either the Fed, counterfeiters, or destruction of cash money, and we will ignore those issues.)

In this problem, we will assume that you have bought all the coffee and bagels you want (and no more), so that your happiness has been maximized. Thus you are in equilibrium with the coffee shop. We will assume further that you remain in equilibrium with the coffee shop at all times, and that you can sell coffee and bagels back to the coffee shop at cost.*

Thus your savings \(S\) can be considered to be a function of your bagels \(B\) and coffee \(C\). In this problem we will also discuss the prices \(P_B\) and \(P_C\), which you may not assume are independent of \(B\) and \(C\). It may help to imagine that you could possibly buy out the local supply of coffee, and have to import it at higher costs.

  1. The prices of bagels and coffee \(P_B\) and \(P_C\) have derivative relationships between your savings and the quantity of coffee and bagels that you have. What are the units of these prices? What is the mathematical definition of \(P_C\) and \(P_B\)?

  2. Write down the total differential of your savings, in terms of \(B\), \(C\), \(P_B\) and \(P_C\).

  3. Solve for the total differential of your net worth. Your net worth \(W\) is the sum of your total savings plus the value of the coffee and bagels that you own. From the total differential, relate your amount of coffee and bagels to partial derivatives of your net worth.

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Phase
Complex Numbers Rectangular Form Exponential Form Square of the Norm Overall Phase Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)
  1. For each of the following complex numbers \(z\), find \(z^2\), \(\vert z\vert^2\), and rewrite \(z\) in exponential form, i.e. as a magnitude times a complex exponential phase:
    • \(z_1=i\),

    • \(z_2=2+2i\),
    • \(z_3=3-4i\).
  2. In quantum mechanics, it turns out that the overall phase for a state does not have any physical significance. Therefore, you will need to become quick at rearranging the phase of various states. For each of the vectors listed below, rewrite the vector as an overall complex phase times a new vector whose first component is real and positive. \[\left|D\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 7e^{i\frac{\pi}{6}}\\ 3e^{i\frac{\pi}{2}}\\ -1\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|E\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} i\\ 4\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|F\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 2+2i\\ 3-4i\\ \end{pmatrix} \]

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Undo Formulas for Reduced Mass (Geometry)
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

The figure below shows the position vector \(\vec r\) and the orbit of a “fictitious” reduced mass \(\mu\).

  1. Suppose \(m_1=m_2\), Sketch the position vectors and orbits for \(m_1\) and \(m_2\) corresponding to \(\vec{r}\). Describe a common physics example of central force motion for which \(m_1=m_2\).
  2. Repeat, for \(m_2>m_1\).

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Line Sources Using the Gradient

Gradient Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)
  1. 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}

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Yukawa
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

In a solid, a free electron doesn't see” a bare nuclear charge since the nucleus is surrounded by a cloud of other electrons. The nucleus will look like the Coulomb potential close-up, but be screened” from far away. A common model for such problems is described by the Yukawa or screened potential: \begin{equation} U(r)= -\frac{k}{r} e^{-\frac{r}{\alpha}} \end{equation}

  1. Graph the potential, with and without the exponential term. Describe how the Yukawa potential approximates the “real” situation. In particular, describe the role of the parameter \(\alpha\).
  2. Draw the effective potential for the two choices \(\alpha=10\) and \(\alpha=0.1\) with \(k=1\) and \(\ell=1\). For which value(s) of \(\alpha\) is there the possibility of stable circular orbits?

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Reduced Mass
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

Using your favorite graphing package, make a plot of the reduced mass \begin{equation} \mu=\frac{m_1\, m_2}{m_1+m_2} \end{equation} as a function of \(m_1\) and \(m_2\). What about the shape of this graph tells you something about the physical world that you would like to remember. You should be able to find at least three things. Hint: Think limiting cases.

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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.

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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 \((\cdots)^2\).

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Cube Charge
charge density

Integration Sequence

Static Fields 2022 (5 years)
  1. Charge is distributed throughout the volume of a dielectric cube with charge density \(\rho=\beta z^2\), where \(z\) is the height from the bottom of the cube, and where each side of the cube has length \(L\). What is the total charge inside the cube? Do this problem in two ways as both a single integral and as a triple integral.
  2. In a new physical situation: Charge is distributed on the surface of a cube with charge density \(\sigma=\alpha z\) where \(z\) is the height from the bottom of the cube, and where each side of the cube has length \(L\). What is the total charge on the cube? Don't forget about the top and bottom of the cube.

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Spin Fermi Estimate
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 The following two problems ask you to make Fermi estimates. In a good Fermi estimate, you start from basic scientific facts you already know or quantities that you can reasonably estimate based on your life experiences and then reason your way to estimate a quantity that you would not be able guess. You may look up useful conversion factors or constants. Use words, pictures, and equations to explain your reasoning:
  1. Imagine that you send a pea-sized bead of silver through a Stern-Gerlach device oriented to measure the z-component of intrinsic spin. Estimate the total z-component of the intrinsic spin of the ball you would measure in the HIGHLY improbable case that every atom is spin up.
  2. Protons, neutrons, and electrons are all spin-1/2 particles. Give a (very crude) order of magnitude estimate of the number of these particles in your body.

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Heat shields
Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody radiation Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 A black (nonreflective) sheet of metal at high temperature \(T_h\) is parallel to a cold black sheet of metal at temperature \(T_c\). Each sheet has an area \(A\) which is much greater than the distance between them. The sheets are in vacuum, so energy can only be transferred by radiation.
  1. Solve for the net power transferred between the two sheets.

  2. A third black metal sheet is inserted between the other two and is allowed to come to a steady state temperature \(T_m\). Find the temperature of the middle sheet, and solve for the new net power transferred between the hot and cold sheets. This is the principle of the heat shield, and is part of how the James Web telescope shield works.
  3. Optional: Find the power through an \(N\)-layer sandwich.

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Distribution function for double occupancy statistics
Orbitals Distribution function Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Let us imagine a new mechanics in which the allowed occupancies of an orbital are 0, 1, and 2. The values of the energy associated with these occupancies are assumed to be \(0\), \(\varepsilon\), and \(2\varepsilon\), respectively.

  1. Derive an expression for the ensemble average occupancy \(\langle N\rangle\), when the system composed of this orbital is in thermal and diffusive contact with a resevoir at temperature \(T\) and chemical potential \(\mu\).

  2. Return now to the usual quantum mechanics, and derive an expression for the ensemble average occupancy of an energy level which is doubly degenerate; that is, two orbitals have the identical energy \(\varepsilon\). If both orbitals are occupied the toal energy is \(2\varepsilon\). How does this differ from part (a)?

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Quantum harmonic oscillator
Entropy Quantum harmonic oscillator Frequency Energy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020
  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.