Physics Minor

Overview

In a broad sense, the aim of physics as a discipline is to develop interconnected unifying threads bridging the vast number of seemingly diverse phenomena observed in the physical world around us. The minor provided students with the opportunity for additional study in physics in order to build a secondary area of expertise in support of their major or other areas of interest.

Notes about this minor:

  • The minor is closed to students majoring in physics.
  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.

The plan code for Physics Minor is PHYS-MN.

Curriculum for Physics Minor

Course
Prerequisites
MATH-181
Project-Based Calculus I
This is the first in a two-course sequence intended for students majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering. It emphasizes the understanding of concepts, and using them to solve physical problems. The course covers functions, limits, continuity, the derivative, rules of differentiation, applications of the derivative, Riemann sums, definite integrals, and indefinite integrals. (Prerequisite: A- or better in MATH-111 or A- or better in ((NMTH-260 or NMTH-272 or NMTH-275) and NMTH-220) or a math placement exam score greater than or equal to 70 or department permission to enroll in this class.) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
MATH-182
Project-Based Calculus II
This is the second in a two-course sequence intended for students majoring in mathematics, science, or engineering. It emphasizes the understanding of concepts, and using them to solve physical problems. The course covers techniques of integration including integration by parts, partial fractions, improper integrals, applications of integration, representing functions by infinite series, convergence and divergence of series, parametric curves, and polar coordinates. (Prerequisites: C- or better in (MATH-181 or MATH-173 or 1016-282) or (MATH-171 and MATH-180) or equivalent course(s).) Lecture 6 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
PHYS-211
University Physics I
This is a course in calculus-based physics for science and engineering majors. Topics include kinematics, planar motion, Newton's Laws, gravitation, work and energy, momentum and impulse, conservation laws, systems of particles, rotational motion, static equilibrium, mechanical oscillations and waves, and data presentation/analysis. The course is taught in a workshop format that integrates the material traditionally found in separate lecture and laboratory courses. (Prerequisites: C- or better in MATH-181 or equivalent course. Co-requisites: MATH-182 or equivalent course.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
PHYS-212
University Physics II
This course is a continuation of PHYS-211, University Physics I. Topics include electrostatics, Gauss' law, electric field and potential, capacitance, resistance, DC circuits, magnetic field, Ampere's law, inductance, and geometrical and physical optics. The course is taught in a lecture/workshop format that integrates the material traditionally found in separate lecture and laboratory courses. (Prerequisites: (PHYS-211 or PHYS-211A or PHYS-206 or PHYS-216) or (MECE-102, MECE-103 and MECE-205) and (MATH-182 or MATH-172 or MATH-182A) or equivalent courses. Grades of C- or better are required in all prerequisite courses.) Lec/Lab 6 (Fall, Spring).
Required Courses
PHYS-213
Modern Physics I
This course provides an introductory survey of elementary quantum physics, as well as basic relativistic dynamics. Topics include the photon, wave-particle duality, deBroglie waves, the Bohr model of the atom, the Schrodinger equation and wave mechanics, quantum description of the hydrogen atom, electron spin, and multi-electron atoms. (Prerequisites: PHYS-209 or PHYS-212 or PHYS-217or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
PHYS-283
Vibrations and Waves
This course is an introduction to the physics of vibrations and waves, beginning with the simple harmonic oscillator, the foundation to understanding oscillatory and vibratory systems. The course will include driven and damped single oscillators, coupled discrete oscillators, and continuous vibrating systems. Connections will be made with many areas of physics that involve oscillation, including mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. (Prerequisites: PHYS-212 or PHYS-217 or PHYS-209 and (MATH-182 or MATH-182A or MATH-173) or equivalent courses. Co-requisites: MATH-231 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Group A Electives†
PHYS-315
Experiments in Modern Physics
In this course, students perform experiments representative of the foundation of modern quantum physics. These include investigations of wave particle duality, and the earliest of quantum mechanical models as well as measurements of fundamental constants. Experiments typically include electron diffraction, the photoelectric effect, optical diffraction and interference, atomic spectroscopy, charge-to-mass ratio of an electron, and blackbody radiation. This class teaches basic instrumentation techniques as well as data reduction and analysis. Students are expected to keep a laboratory notebook and present results in a journal-style paper. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program must also complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lab 4 (Fall).
PHYS-316
Advanced Laboratory in Physics
In this course, students perform advanced experiments representative of the foundation of modern quantum physics. Experiments typically explore properties of materials, semiconductors, atomic physics, and nuclear decay. This class continues the instruction in instrumentation techniques as well as data reduction and analysis that began in Experiments in Modern Physics, PHYS-315. Students are expected to keep a laboratory notebook and present results in a journal-style paper. (Prerequisites: PHYS-214 and PHYS-315 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lab 4 (Spring).
PHYS-365
Physical Optics
In this course light waves having both amplitude and phase will be described to provide a foundation for understanding key optical phenomena such as interference, diffraction, and propagation. Starting from Maxwell's equations the course advances to the topic of Fourier optics. (Prerequisites: (PHYS-212 or PHYS-209 or PHYS-217) and PHYS-225, PHYS-283, PHYS-320 and (MATH-219 or MATH-221 or MATH-221H) or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 before taking this course.) Lab 3 (Spring).
PHYS-377
Advanced Computational Physics
This course introduces students to advanced methods for using computers to model the behavior of physical systems. Topics will include numerical solutions to differential equations such as heat transfer, planetary motion, and shock waves, the Monte Carlo approach to problems with large domains, tradeoffs between efficiency and precision, minimization and maximization of functions, and the statistical modeling of data. (Prerequisites: PHYS-225 and PHYS-320 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lab 3 (Spring).
Group B Electives†
PHYS-214
Modern Physics II
This course is a continuation of a survey of modern physics beyond the topics introduced in Modern Physics I. Central topics include the physics of multi-electron atoms, molecular structure, fundamentals of statistical physics applied to systems of particles, elementary solid-state physics, applications to semiconductor materials and simple devices, and basic elements of nuclear physics. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program must also complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
PHYS-320
Mathematical Methods in Physics
This course serves as an introduction to the mathematical tools needed to solve intermediate and upper-level physics problems. Topics include matrix algebra, vector calculus, Fourier analysis, partial differential equations in rectangular coordinates, and an introduction to series solutions of ordinary differential equations. (Prerequisites: (MATH-219 or MATH-221) and MATH-231 and (PHYS-209 or PHYS-212 or PHYS-217) or equivalent courses.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
PHYS-330
Classical Mechanics
This course is a systematic presentation of Newtonian kinematics and dynamics including equations of motion in one- and three-dimensions, conservation laws, non-inertial reference frames, central forces, Lagrangian mechanics, and rigid body motion. This course will use advanced mathematical techniques including differential equations, vector calculus, and matrix and tensor formulations. (Prerequisites: (MATH-219 or MATH-221) and MATH-231 and (PHYS-209 or PHYS-212 or PHYS-217). Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course. Co-requisites: PHYS-320 or equivalent course.) Lecture 4 (Fall).
PHYS-352
Introduction to Biological Physics
How does physics bear on the workings of living cells and organisms? Physicists are critically needed to participate in addressing grand challenges in biology and medicine today. These challenges call for scientists, including physicists, to thoroughly penetrate the molecular workings of cells, tissues, and organisms and to create new and better instruments to probe them. This course is designed to acquaint you with current scientific challenges posed by this universe within, to equip you with physics tools that are important for addressing them, and to acquaint you with basic physical principles central to quantitative study of living cells and organisms. The course includes an introductory tour of cell biology from a physics standpoint, a quantitative introduction to molecular forces in living cells, and an introduction to manifestations of statistical physics in living organisms. Applications include enzyme catalysis, oxygen transport, diffusion within cells, thermodynamic forces, motor proteins, spontaneous structure formation, cell signaling, the electrical double layer, and conduction of nerve impulses. Additional topics will be chosen according to interests of students and instructors. (Prerequisites: PHYS-212 or PHYS-209 or PHYS-217 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Biannual).
PHYS-360
Introduction to Chaotic Dynamics
This course introduces basic tools for visualizing the behavior of nonlinear systems. In particular, the students are required to use the computer as an exploratory tool for generating and observing transitions between periodic behavior and chaotic behavior. Most of the course focuses on the driven, damped pendulum as a model dynamical system, but the ideas are readily extended to other systems as well. (Prerequisites: PHYS-283 and (PHYS-330 or 1017-402) or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
PHYS-408
Laser Physics
This course covers the semi-classical theory of the operation of a laser, characteristics and practical aspects of various laser systems, and some applications of lasers in scientific research. (Prerequisites: PHYS-365 or equivalent course. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
PHYS-411
Electricity and Magnetism
This course is a systematic treatment of electrostatics and magnetostatics, charges, currents, fields and potentials, dielectrics and magnetic materials, Maxwell's equations and electromagnetic waves. Mathematical formalism using differential and integral vector calculus is developed. Field theory is treated in terms of scalar and vector potentials. Special techniques for solution to Laplace's equation as a boundary value problem are covered. Wave solutions of Maxwell's equations, and the behavior of electromagnetic waves at interfaces, are discussed. (Prerequisites: (PHYS-209 or PHYS-212 or PHYS-217) and PHYS-320 or equivalent courses. Students in PHYS-BS or PHYS-2M are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 4 (Spring).
PHYS-414
Quantum Mechanics
This course is a study of the concepts and mathematical structure of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. Topics for the course include wave functions and the Schrodinger equation, solutions to the one-dimensional and three-dimensional time-independent Schrodinger equation, stationary states and their superposition to produce time-dependent states, quantum-mechanical operators, commutators, and uncertainty principles, solutions to general central potential problems and the hydrogen atom, and the quantum theory of angular momentum. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213, PHYS-320 and (PHYS-330 or 1017-402) or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 before taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).
PHYS-440
Thermal and Statistical Physics
This course is an introduction to the principles of classical thermodynamics and its statistical basis, including: equations of state, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, microscopic basis of entropy, temperature and thermal equilibrium, thermodynamic potentials, applications of thermodynamics, kinetic theory of gases, and Boltzmann and quantum statistics. (Prerequisites: PHYS-213 and MATH-231 or equivalent courses. Students in the PHYS-BS program are also required to complete PHYS-275 prior to taking this course.) Lecture 3 (Fall).

* At least two courses must be taken at the 300-level or higher.

† Students must complete a minimum of nine semester credit hours of additional courses, where at least one course must be selected from Group A and one from Group B.