Fall, 2003


23-Jan-2004: The exams have been graded and the course grades computed. You may send me an email to find out your course grade and/or see me at my office to pick up your exam. On the whole, you did well! Here are the final, solutions, and point distribution on the final. Maximum: 60 points, average: 49.6, standard deviation: 8.9, number of students: 22.

20-Jan-2004: Solutions to last year's final. Also, solutions to Homework 11 have been posted and the graded homeworks may be picked up in the department office.

18-Jan-2004: A "reTeXed" version of last year's final has replaced the original version. This corrects some problems with missing fonts (I hope).

30-Dec-2003: Schedule for the reading and exam period:
Thursday, January 8, 7pm. Problem Session (Homework 11), Fourth Floor Lounge.
Monday, January 12, Homework 11 due in Department office by 5pm.
Monday, January 19, 1:30 pm, Room A06, Review. (Will work last year's final and answer questions.)
Wednesday, January 21, 1:30-4:30 pm, Room A07. Final Exam. (Calculators allowed, but only for calculations, not for storing things! Books, notes, cell phones not allowed.)

7-Dec-2003: Here is last year's final. Note that there is a problem on mixtures. We skipped the mixtures chapter this semester. However, you should still be able to do the problem just by applying what you know about free energy, entropy, etc.

26-Nov-2003: This week's problem session is moved from Sunday, November 30, to Monday, December 1, at 7pm in the 4th floor lounge. Also, the due date for this week's homework assignement is moved from Tuesday, December 2, to Wedensday, December 3, at 5pm in the department office. Both in honor of junior paper drafts being due! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

21-Nov-2003: You'll notice there are two lectures (numbers 25 and 26) for Monday, November 24. Lecture 25 covers cryogenics, K&K chapter 12. Judy Lau already gave a talk on practical cryogenics, so lecture 25 will not actually be covered in class. Nevertheless, you should read it and chapter 12. There are a couple of homework problems from chapter 12.

14-Nov-2003: On Monday, November 17, 2003, Judy Lau will talk in place of the regular lecture. She's a second year student and will describe her "Generals Advanced Project" to build a refrigerator to operate unattended on the top of a mountain in Chile.

6-Nov-2003: Lecture 19 has been replaced to correct an error in the discussion showing that all reversible engines have the same efficiency.

27-Oct-2003: The midterm and homework distributions.

24-Oct-2003: The midterm and solutions.

16-Oct-2003: Schedule for midterms week:
Sunday: regular evening problem session for homework 5
Monday: HW 5 due at 5pm a day earlier than usual
Monday class: Review
Tuesday: Kumar will lead a review, 7:30pm, 4th floor lounge
Wednesday class: In class midterm
Friday class: Will anyone be around for class?

12-Sep-2003: Reminder, we will meet in room A06 starting Monday, 15-Sep-2003, and for all lectures after that.

12-Sep-2003: Problem sessions are on Sunday evenings, 7pm, in the Fourth Floor Lounge, Jadwin 403, starting 21-Sep-2003.

Course Instructor: Ed Groth, Jadwin 264, x8-4361,

Office Hours: Most afternoons - give a call before walking across campus! Almost surely Wednesday afternoons, 2:00-4:00 pm.

Teaching Assistant: Kumar Raman, Jadwin 423, x8-5983,

Office Hours: TBD

Course Manager: Martin Kicinski, 208, x8-4408,

Lectures: Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, 10:00-10:50 am, Jadwin A08.

Problem Session: Sunday evenings, 7pm, Fourth Floor Lounge, Jadwin 403. Starting 21-Sep-2003.

Text: Kittel & Kroemer, Thermal Physics 2nd ed., Freeman. (to be followed closely or loosely depending on the topic)

Others: Mandl, Statistical Physics, Wiley. Similar to K&K.

Reif, Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics, McGraw Hill. Also similar to K&K.

Feynman, Statistical Mechanics, a Set of Lectures, Addison Wesley. This is fairly advanced, but it's always worthwhile to see what Feynman has to say.

Callen, Thermodynamics, Wiley. A classic treatment of thermodynamics.

I've asked that all the above be placed on reserve at Fine Library.

Homework: Assigned Monday (I will try, but sometimes the assignment may not be ready until Wednesday!), due the next Tuesday in the department office (208) by 5pm, returned the next Monday. 40% of grade. Collaboration encouraged (but not copying!). Late homework may receive only half or none of the grade depending on how late it is and how it fits into the grading schedule!

Midterm: In class, Wednesday, October 22, 15% of grade. (Note: this is a departure from previous times I've taught this course when there was no midterm exam.)

Final: 45% of grade.


We will start by following K&K and cover fundamentals of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, including temperature and entropy. We will cover the Boltzmann, Bose, and Fermi distributions; black body radiation; chemical potential; Gibbs free energy; and phase transitions. Then we'll consider some of the more advanced topics in K&K. A more detailed syllabus is in the table below.


The lecture notes and the homework assignments will be available for downloading. Note that I write the lecture notes mainly so I know what I'm going to say. I like to distribute them so you can follow along in lecture rather than having to worry about taking notes.

The notes and assignments are written in TeX and converted to postscript which is converted to PDF. You will need a to be able to view and print PDF for downloading to be useful! Acrobat Reader from Adobe is a free viewer for PDF format. The files are large because the fonts used by TeX are embedded in the files.

If you discover errors or typos, or just plain unclear passages, let me know at

You may occasionally get a file not found error if I've put in the link, but haven't installed to the actual file yet.

Lecture section headings to help find which lecture covers a particular topic.


Week Starting Date Tentative Topics
Lectures Homework Assignments and Solutions
0 8-Sep-2003 Introduction, Thermodynamic Conccepts
    1 No homework this week!
1 15-Sep-2003 Entropy, Temperature, Pressure, Chemical Potential, Probability
2 3 4 Due: 23-Sep-2003 Homework 1 Solutions
2 22-Sep-2003 Boltzmann Factor, Partition Function, Particle in a Box, Free Energy
5 6 7 Due: 30-Sep-2003 Homework 2 Solutions
3 29-Sep-2003 Harmonic Oscillator, Classical/Quantum Cavity Radiation, Oscillator Applications
8 9 10 Due: 7-Oct-2003 Homework 3 Solutions
4 6-Oct-2003 Chemical Potential, Gibbs Distribution, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein Distributions
11 12 13 Due: 14-Oct-2003 Homework 4 Solutions
5 13-Oct-2003 Ideal Gas (again), Sackur-Tetrode Entropy, Ideal Fermi Gas
14 15 16 Due: 20-Oct-2003 ***Monday*** Homework 5 Solutions
6 20-Oct-2003 Monday: Review; Wednesday: Midterm; Friday: TBD
  27-Oct-2003 Midterm Break
7 3-Nov-2003 Fermi Gases, Bose-Einstein Gases, Heat, Work, Carnot Cycle
17 18 19 Due: 11-Nov-2003 Homework 6 Solutions
8 10-Nov-2003 Gibbs Free Energy, Chemical Equilibrium, Saha Equation, Phase Transitions
20 21 22 Due: 18-Nov-2003 Homework 7 Solutions
9 17-Nov-2003 More Phase Transitions, Ising Model, Getting Cold
Judy Lau 23 24 Due: 25-Nov-2003 Homework 8 Solutions
10 24-Nov-2003 Semiconductor Basics, Electrons in Semiconductors
25, 26 27   Due: 2-Dec-2003 Homework 9 Solutions
11 1-Dec-2003 Collisions, Mean Free Path, Transport
28 29 30 Due: 9-Dec-2003 Homework 10 Solutions
12 8-Dec-2003 Diffusion, Sound Waves
31 32 33 Due: 12-Jan-2004 Homework 11 Solutions