Astronomy(Minor)
Physics(B.A.)
Physics(B.S.)
Physics(Minor)

Physics (PHYS)

PHYS-1103 Observational Astronomy
Description
A laboratory course to accompany either PHYS 1304 or 1305. Basic use of a telescope, including celestial coordinates and time systems. Visual observations of the Sun, Moon, planets and their satellites, stars, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies. Further possible topics include photometry, spectroscopy, electronic imaging. One field trip to a dark observing site may be required. May be taken only once for credit. Either PHYS 1304 or 1305 is a prerequisite or a corequisite.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1111 Introductory Physics Laboratory
Description
Laboratory to accompany PHYS 1309 or 1311. Topics include: one-dimensional kinematics, elastic and frictional forces, Kepler's Laws, collisions, rotational motion, oscillatory motion. Corequisite: PHYS 1311 or 1309 must be taken concurrently.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1112 Intermediate Physics Laboratory
Description
Laboratory to accompany PHYS 1310 and 1312. Topics include: DC, AC, and transient circuits, magnetism, geometric optics, interference and diffraction, blackbody radiation, spectroscopy, gamma ray absorption. Corequisite: PHYS 1310 or 1312 must be taken concurrently.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1194 Physics and Society Seminar
Description
Discussion of the historical, sociological, philosophical implications and cultural context in which physics research is done and the implications of that research. Prerequisite: PHYS 3323.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Lower Division
PHYS-1302 Frontiers of Physics
Description
An introduction to the methods and results and philosophical implications of modern physics. Topics include: special and general relatively; the wave-particle theory of light and matter; atomic, nuclear and particle physics; future explorations.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1304 Solar System Astronomy
Description
A survey of the nature of the Solar System. Topics include: scale of the Solar System, major and minor planets; moons, asteroids, comets, and other solar system debris; gravity and orbital motion; the nature of light; lunar phases; lunar and solar eclipses; solar wind and planetary magnetospheres; seasons, planetary atmospheres, and comparative planetary climatology; evolution of planetary surfaces; extra-solar planets and the search for life elsewhere in the Galaxy. May be taken without enrolling in PHYS 1103. (Offered every Year).
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1305 Stars & Galaxies
Description
A survey of the properties of stars, galaxies, and the universe. Topics include: observed properties of stars; stellar birth, evolution and death; white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; galactic structure and evolution; supermassive black holes; large-scale structure of the universe; the Big Bang and inflation; life in the universe; the nature of light. PHYS 1304 is not a prerequisite for PHYS 1305. May be taken without enrolling in PHYS 1103.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1307 Introduction to Nanotechnology
Description
An introduction to current nanotechnology fabrication methods and applications aimed at nonscience majors. This course will explore how material properties change at the nanoscale and how these properties can be utilized in technological applications and consumer products. Topics include scientific concepts behind nanotechnology, microscopy at the nanoscale, medical applications, consumer applications, ethical concerns, and the environmental impact of nanotechnology.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Undergraduate
Pathways Curriculum
The Interdisciplinary Clusters
PHYS-1309 General Physics I
Description
A calculus-level introduction to classical mechanics and its applications. Topics include: particle kinematics, Newton's laws of motion, kinetic and potential energy, work, linear and angular momentum, torque, statics, simple harmonic motion, mechanical waves, sound, fluids, thermal physics, and applications in biology, medicine, and geology. This course is appropriate for biology, chemistry, and geosciences majors. Only one of PHYS 1309 or 1311 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite: MATH 1311 or 1307 (either may be taken concurrently); Corequisite: PHYS 1111 must be taken concurrently
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1310 General Physics II
Description
A calculus-level introduction to electric fields, magnetic fields, light waves, and modern physics. Topics include: electric fields, electric current, electric circuits, magnetic fields, electromagnetic induction, electromagnetic waves, geometrical optics, physical optics, quantum physics, atomic physics, lasers, nuclear physics and applications in biology, medicine, and geology. This course is appropriate for biology, chemistry, and geosciences majors. Only one of PHYS 1310 or 1312 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite: PHYS 1309 or 1311; PHYS 1112 is normally taken concurrently but is not required.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1311 Introduction to Mechanics
Description
A calculus-level introduction to classical mechanics. Topics include: particle kinematics, Newton's laws of motion, kinetic and potential energy, linear and angular momentum, torque, statics, simple harmonic motion, mechanical waves, and sound. This course is appropriate for physics and engineering science majors. Only one of PHYS 1309 or 1311 may be taken for credit. Prerequisite: MATH 1311 or 1307 (either may be taken concurrently). Corequisite: PHYS 1111 must be taken concurrently
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-1312 Introduction to Electricity, Magnetism And Waves
Description
A calculus-level introduction to electric fields, magnetic fields, and light waves. Topics include: electric fields, Gauss's Law, electric potential, magnetism, Ampere's Law, electromagnetic induction, Lenz's Law, Maxwell's Equations, geometrical and physical optics. This course is appropriate for physics and engineering science majors. Only one of PHYS 1310 or 1312 may be taken for credit. Prerequisites: PHYS 1311 (or 1309) and MATH 1312 (may be taken concurrently). Corequisite: PHYS 1112 must be taken concurrently
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
Approaches to Creation and Analysis
PHYS-2094 Physics Seminar
Description
Attendance at departmental seminars. Grade is based on attendance.
Credits
0 credits
Level
Lower Division
PHYS-2128 Summer Research I
Description
Individual research participation during the summer research term under faculty supervision. (Offered every semester.) Prerequisite: Consent of Department Chair
Credits
1 credit
Level
Lower Division
PHYS-2190 Directed Studies - Sophomore Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than 3 total hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Lower Division
PHYS-2231 Modern Physics Laboratory
Description
Rigorous experimental work, including data handling and scientific writing. Experiments are drawn from the areas of mechanics, optics, nuclear, and modern physics. Meets 3 hours per week, with significant work outside of the laboratory. (Offered every Spring.) Prerequisites: PHYS 1111, 1112, 1312 (or 1310)
Credits
2 credits
Level
Lower Division
Pathways Curriculum
The Core Capacities
PHYS-2290 Directed Studies - Sophomore Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than 3 total hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair.
Credits
2 credits
Level
Lower Division
PHYS-2390 Directed Studies - Sophomore Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than 3 total hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Lower Division
PHYS-3128 Summer Research II
Description
Individual research participation during the summer research term under faculty supervision. (Offered every semester.) Prerequisite: PHYS 2128 and Consent of the Department Chair.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3190 Directed Studies - Junior Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than three hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair
Credits
1 credit
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3194 Speaking Physics
Description
Speaking Physics is a junior level course designed to train physics majors to become effective communicators in their field. Students will gain experience presenting technical research-style talks, with several opportunities for feedback from the instructor and peers. (Offered every Spring)
Credits
1 credit
Level
Upper Division
Pathways Curriculum
The Core Capacities
PHYS-3290 Directed Studies - Junior Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than three hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair
Credits
2 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3311 Principles of Biophysics
Description
This course introduces the use of physics principles to explore and understand complex biological systems on different spatial and time scales. Questions addressed include: What are the forces that hold a molecule and a cell together? What are the forces and energies involved in cell membrane structures and functions, DNA packing and functioning, protein folding, and nerve-signal transmission? Emphasis will be placed on the use of spectroscopic, imaging and computer simulation techniques to address some of these questions. This course spans the molecular, cellular and tissue levels of biology and examines current topics of biophysics. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: PHYS 1310 (or PHYS 1312) and one of the following courses: CHEM 3330, ENGR 3327, or PHYS 3323
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3321 Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics
Description
An introduction to the subjects of statistical mechanics, kinetic theory, thermodynamics and heat. Prerequisites: PHYS 3323 and MATH 2321 (may be taken concurrently).
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3322 Classical Mechanics and Nonlinear Dynamics
Description
Newtonian dynamics and kinematics utilizing the vector calculus. Topics include momentum, work and potential energy, angular momentum, rigid body dynamics, harmonic oscillators, central force motion, non-inertial systems, chaotic kinematics, and non-linear systems. Prerequisites: PHYS 1312 (or 1310), MATH 2321 (may be taken concurrently).
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3323 Introduction to Modern Physics
Description
A quantitative survey of modern physics and its historical development. Topics include: special relativity, waveparticle duality, and Schroedinger equation, identical particles, solid state, and high energy physics. Prerequisites: PHYS 1312 (or 1310), MATH 1312
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
Pathways Curriculum
The Core Capacities
PHYS-3324 Mathematical Methods for Physicists
Description
This course is a survey of mathematical methods commonly used in the physical sciences. It covers essential aspects of complex variables, linear algebra, Fourier series and transforms, differential equations, and vector analysis, including theorems of Green, Gauss, and Stokes. (Offered every Spring.) Prerequisites: PHYS 3323 (Modern Physics)
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3325 Waves and Optics
Description
An intermediate treatment of oscillations and wave mechanics and the nature of light as electromagnetic waves. General topics include linear oscillators, traveling waves, representations by complex numbers, and Fourier analysis. Topics from physical optics include sources of radiation, guided waves, interactions of light and matter, reflection and refraction, interference and diffraction, and scattering from particles. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: PHYS 1312 (or 1310) and MATH 2321.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3333 Quantum Physics I
Description
Introduction to the theory of quantum mechanics. Stationary states and time evolution of solutions to the Schroedinger equation. Observables, operators and eigenvalues. The harmonic oscillator, angular momentum, central potentials, and perturbation theory. Prerequisites: MATH 2321, PHYS 3323.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3335 Electromagnetic Fields
Description
An intermediate course on electromagnetic theory. Electrostatic field and potential, Gauss's law, conductors, electric dipole and multipoles, solutions to Laplace's equation, method of images, dielectric media, electrostatic energy, electric current. Magnetic field of steady currents, including the law of Biot and Savart, Ampere's law, magnetic vector potential. Electromagentic induction. Introduction to Maxwell's equations. Prerequisites: PHYS 3322, MATH 3316 (may be taken concurrently).
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3336 Advanced Topics in Physics and Astronomy
Description
Advanced topics in physics and astronomy to be selected by the instructor. Various instances of the course may cover topics such as particle physics, general relativity, advanced electricity and magnetism, fluid mechanics, and/or advanced classical mechanics. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: Varies by topic. Consent of instructor is required.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3350 Intermediate Astronomy
Description
The application of physics to understanding stars and systems of stars. Topics include: cosmic distance scale, gravitational dynamics, statistical mechanics, electromagnetic processes, quantum effects, stars, cosmic gas and dust, quasars, cosmology. Prerequisite: PHYS 1310 or 1312; PHYS 1304 or 1305 or permission of the instructor
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3390 Directed Studies - Junior Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than three hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3398 Honors Reading
Description
Individual research and study under faculty supervision in preparation for Honors Thesis work. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-3412 Applied Geophysics
Description
An introduction to the use of physical principles and measurements in the study of the Earth's subsurface, with an emphasis on applications in environmental science, engineering, mineral exploration and archeology. Topics include Fourier analysis, seismic waves in elastic media, refraction tomography, reflection seismology, multichannel analysis of surface waves, gravity, electrical resistivity and groundpenetrating radar. (Also listed as GEOS 3412) Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. Field trips are required; field trip expenses must be paid by each student. Prerequisite: PHYS 1310 or 1312 (may be taken concurrently).
Credits
4 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4128 Summer Research III
Description
Individual research participation during the summer research term under faculty supervision. (Offered every semester.) Prerequisite: PHYS 3128 and Consent of the Department Chair.
Credits
1 credit
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4190 Directed Studies - Senior Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than 3 total hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair
Credits
1 credit
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4191 Nanofabrication
Description
This course is an introduction to nanometer scale aspects of chemistry, physics, and biology, and how these can be combined to fabricate architectures with dimensions in the nanometer scale. Principles of fabrication techniques that underpin this field will be presented with recent developments as case studies, including nanoparticles, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), electromaterials, and other new materials. An extensive series of hands-on laboratory activities is a central part of the course. Students will fabricate and characterize nanoscale structures using a variety of techniques from biology, chemistry, physics, and materials science. In the first few weeks of the semester, we will focus on principles, concepts, and instrumentation utilized in nonfabrication. During the rest of the semester, students will choose a current paper from the literature and attempt to recreate the fabrication process and all characterization techniques. (Offered occasionally). Prerequisite: Permission of Instructor
Credits
1 credit
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4221 Electronics Lab
Description
Rigorous experimental work covering RLC circuits, diodes, transistors, oscilloscopes, logic gates, and operational amplifiers. There will be a significant expectation for work outside of class, whether on prelab preparation, circuit building, or assignments for practicing specific skills. Meets 3 hours per week, with significant work outside of the laboratory. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: PHYS 2231
Credits
2 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4231 Advanced Photonics Lab
Description
Advanced experimental techniques covering topics typically not addressed in coursework. Rigorous analysis of experimental data and competent scientific writing form an integral part of the course. Topics include: atomic physics, advanced optics, laser physics, and nanotechnology. There will be a significant expectation for work outside of class, including pre-lab and writing activities. Meets 3 hours per week, with significant work outside of the laboratory. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: PHYS 2231
Credits
2 credits
Level
Upper Division
Pathways Curriculum
The Core Capacities
PHYS-4290 Directed Studies - Senior Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than 3 total hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair
Credits
2 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4328 High-Frequency Electromagnetics
Description
The fundamental theory of electromagnetic waves is developed and applied to the design of high-frequency electrical circuits. Topics include: how electromagnetic waves travel and are usefully directed; how to design signal transmission lines, filters and couplers; analysis of high-frequency circuit networks, and high-frequency circuit concepts such as distributed impedance. Students will also prepare an individually researched assignment on a subject of their choice exploring an emerging technology in the electrical engineering area. (Also listed as ENGR 4328.) Prerequisite: Math 2321 and either ENGR 2320 or PHYS 2131.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4343 Quantum Physics II
Description
A formal treatment of quantum mechanics emphasizing Dirac notation and matrix methods. Topics include: three dimensional systems, angular momentum, multiparticle systems, identical particles, spin perturbation theory, scattering, and an introduction to high-energy and particle physics. Prerequisites: PHYS 3333, 3335.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4346 Condensed Matter Physics
Description
An advanced treatment of quantum theories of atoms and solids. Physics of solids and solutions, reciprocal lattices and crystallography, thermodynamic properties of condensed systems. Properties of atoms and photon. Laser cooling, coherent excitation, and atom optics. Prerequisite: PHYS 3333.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4350 Astrophysics
Description
The rigorous application of physics to understanding stars and stellar evolution, astrophysical sources of radiation, compact objects, and gravitational lensing. Topics include: gravitational dynamics; star formation, stellar structure and evolution; several radiative processes and phenomena such as blackbody, bremsstrahlung, synchrotron, Compton, inverse Compton, self Compton, dispersion, and Faraday rotation; special relativistic effects in astronomy such as Doppler shifts, aberration, and astrophysical jets; quantum effects in astronomy such as degenerate gases, hyperfine transition, and Zeeman absorption; gravitational lensing. Only one of PHYS 3350 or 4350 may be taken for credit. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisites: PHYS 1310 or 1312; PHYS 1305; PHYS 3323.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4390 Directed Studies - Senior Level
Description
Individual research under faculty supervision or independent study under faculty supervision in fields not covered by other courses. Credit may vary from 1 to 3 hours. This course may be repeated for additional credit; however, no more than 3 total hours may be counted toward a major in physics. Prerequisite: Consent of the Department Chair
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4395 Senior Project
Description
Individual research and scholarly investigation under faculty supervision. A written summary of results and presentation at a department seminar are required. Required of all B.S. Physics Majors. (Offered every semester.) Prerequisite: Senior standing.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4396 Senior Thesis
Description
Continuation of PHYS 4395 including written preparation of a thesis and oral presentation of results at a department seminar. Not required of but highly recommended for B.S. Physics majors. Prerequisite: PHYS 4395.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4398 Honors Project
Description
Individual research and scholarly investigation under faculty supervision. A written summary of results and presentation at a department seminar are required. Required for honors in physics. (Offered every semester.) Prerequisite: Senior standing.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
PHYS-4399 Honors Thesis
Description
Continuation of PHYS 4398 including written preparation of a thesis and oral presentation of results at a department seminar. Required for honors in physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 4398.
Credits
3 credits
Level
Upper Division
Jennifer Steele
Jennifer Steele, Ph.D.
Department Chair
Professor
Kwan Cheng
Kwan Cheng, Ph.D.
Williams Endowed Professor in Interdisciplinary Physics
Nirav Mehta
Nirav Mehta, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
David Pooley
David Pooley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Orrin Shindell
Orrin Shindell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Niescja Turner
Niescja Turner, Ph.D.
Zilker Professor of Physics

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