PHYS 330

I. Course Title: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

II. Course Number: PHYS 330

III. Credit Hours: 3 credits

IV. Prerequisites: PHYS 112 or PHYS 222, and MATH 172

V. Course Description:

Students will study classical thermodynamics and its applications, including how it addresses a contemporary scientific/engineering issue. Students will study quantum statistical mechanics and how those techniques are applied to ensembles of particles.

Note(s): Applied Learning designated course.

VI. Detailed Description of Content of the Course:

This is an intermediate-level physics course. Topics will be treated with some depth. The students' math skills, including calculus, are expected to be good. Statistical methods will be introduced starting with fundamentals and with the specific applications to thermal physics firmly in mind.

The topics to be covered include:

1. Heat and temperature
2. Thermodynamic definition of work
3. First law of thermodynamics, applications
4. Entropy and the second law of thermodynamics
5. Statistical definition of entropy
6. Ensemble averages
7. The Boltzmann factor and the partition function
8. Helmholtz free energy
9. Grand canonical ensemble, chemical potential, Gibbs factor
10.  Ideal gases
11. Gibbs free energy, phase transitions, Clausius-Clapeyron equation
12. Kinetic theory, Maxwell velocity distribution, mean free path, transport processes

VI. Detailed Description of Conduct of Course:

This course consists of regular lectures plus an applied thermodynamics project that will involve independent learning outside of the regular classroom setting. The project will be chosen to address a scientific/engineering issue in contemporary society. The first half of the semester covers the principles of classical thermodynamics, and the second half covers those of quantum statistical mechanics.

VII. Goals and Objectives of the Course:

By the end of this class students should be able to

• Identify the relationship and correct usage of temperature, infinitesimal work, heat, energy, heat capacity, specific heat, latent heat, and free energy.
• Evaluate thermodynamic cycles by applying the principles of conservation of mass, conservation of energy, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
• Determine the reaction energy balances and phase transitions with the use of thermodynamic free energy.
• Characterize fluid behavior with the use of hydrostatic equilibrium.
• Relate the micro-state to the macro-state of a system’s particles by utilizing the kinetic theory of gases and Maxwell velocity distribution.
• Identify the necessary partition function for ascertaining the quantities for fermion and boson quantum systems.
• Apply the principles of thermodynamics to develop potential solutions to an engineering or scientific issue in contemporary society.

VIII. Assessment Measures:

Students’ abilities to solve problems in this class are assessed through regular graded homework and tests. They will also be assessed on their work on the applied thermodynamics project. The results of the project will be presented to a broader population beyond the class members at the end of the semester.

Other Course Information: None

Review and Approval

March 1, 2018

September 2001 Reviewed by Walter S. Jaronski, Chair

March 01, 2021