Santa Clara University

Physics department

Course Descriptions


1. Hands-On Physics!
How do scientists know what they "know"? Notions of scientific theory and experimentation are reviewed. Error analysis and instrumentation are emphasized. Included student-designed, peer-reviewed group project. (4 units)

2. Introduction to Astronomy: The Solar System
An introduction to astronomy with a partic­ular focus on the origin and evolution of the solar system, and planets and their satellites. Topics include a brief history of the science of astronomy, telescopes and observational methods, gravitation, spectra and the sun, asteroids, comets, astrobiology, and searches for new planetary bodies and extraterrestrial life. Special emphasis is given to the Earth as a planet, with comparisons to Mars and Venus. Students should be familiar with arithmetic and basic algebra. Observational lab meets five times during the quarter. (4 units)

3. Introduction to Astronomy: The Universe
An introduction to astronomy with a partic­ular focus on the origin and evolution of the universe, galaxies, and stars. Topics include a brief history of the science of astronomy, telescopes and observational methods, grav­itation, spectra and the sun, black holes, nebulae, the big bang, and the expansion and ultimate fate of the universe. Special emphasis is given to theories of the cosmos from Stonehenge to the present. Students should be familiar with arithmetic and basic algebra. Evening observa­tional lab meets five times during the quar­ter. (4 units)

4. The Physics of Dance
An exploration of the connection between the art of dance and the science of motion with both lecture/discussion sessions and movement laboratories. Topics include mass, force, equilibrium, acceleration, energy, momentum, torque, rotation, and angular momentum. Movement laboratory combines personal experience of movement with scientific measurements and analysis, in other words: "dance it" and "measure it." This is a lab science, not a dance technique course. Also listed as DANC 4. (4 units)

5. The Physics of Star Trek
Examines the physics and other science depicted in the Star Trek television shows and movies. Topics include Newton's and Einstein's physics, the Standard Model of particle physics, and the physics that underlies inertial dampers, transporter beams, warp drive, and time travel. Considers the impact on society of interplanetary and intergalactic travel, including the relationship between the space program and the advance of technology, the political ramifications of the mankind's race to space, and the implication of the discovery of extraterrestrial life on religion and faith. (4 units)

8. Introduction to Space Sciences
An introduction to space exploration and how observations from space have influ­enced our knowledge of Earth and of the other planets in our solar system. This is synthesized within the context of the field of astrobiology, an interdisciplinary study of the origin of the Universe and the evolution and future of life on Earth. (4 units)

9. Introduction to Earth Science
Overview of geology and its significance to man. Earthquakes, volcanism, plate tectonics and continental drift, rocks and minerals, geologic hazards, and mineral resources. Emphasis on basic geologic principles and the role of geology in today's world. (4 units)

11. General Physics I
One-dimensional motion. Vectors. Two-dimensional motion. Newtonian law of motion. Law of gravitation. Planetary motion. Work. Kinetic and potential energy. Linear momentum and impulse. Torque and rotational motion. Rotational energy and momentum. Equilibrium. Elastic deformation of solids. Density and pressure of fluids. Bernoulli’s principle. Buoyant forces. Surface tension. Lab. Prerequisites: MATH 11 or permission of the instructor. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

12. General Physics II
Temperature. Thermal expansion of sol­ids and liquids. Thermal energy. Heat transfer. Specific heat. Mechanical equivalent of heat. Work and heat. Laws of thermodynamics. Kinetic theory of gases. Ideal gas law. Entropy. Vibration and wave motion. Hooke’s law. Sound. Electric charges, fields and potential. Gauss's Law. Ohm’s Law. Potential difference. Electric potential. Capacitors. Electric cur­rent. Resistance and resistivity. Electric energy and power. Kirchhoff’s Rules. RC circuits. Magnetic fields and forces. Ampere's Law. Induced EMF. Faraday's Law. Lenz's Law. Self inductance. Lab. Prerequisite: PHYS 11. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

13. General Physics III
RCL series circuit. Power in an AC circuit. Resonance. Transformers. Optics: reflection, refraction, mirrors, and lenses. Total internal reflection. Diffraction. Young’s double slit interference. Polarization. Optical Instruments. Relativity. Wave-particle duality. Photoelectric effect. X-rays. Pair production and annihilation. Bohr Atom. Spectra. Uncertainty principle. Quan­tum numbers. Radioactivity. Nuclear particles and reactions. Subnuclear particles. Lab. Prerequisite: PHYS 12. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

19. General Physics for Teachers
A primarily conceptual general physics course designed for future teachers. Topics covered include scientific inquiry, mechanics, gravitation, properties of matter, heat, sound, electricity and magnetism, light, relativity, atomic and nuclear physics, and astronomy. (4 units)

31. Physics for Scientists and Engineers I
Measurement. Vectors. Straight-line kinematics. Kinematics in two dimensions. Laws of inertia, mass conservation, and momentum conservation. Center-of-mass and reference frames. Force. Newtonian mechanics and its applications. Work and kinetic energy. Potential energy and energy conservation. Rotational dynamics. Statics. Includes weekly laboratory. Prerequisite: Math 11. The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit.  (5 units)

32. Physics for Scientists and Engineers II
Simple harmonic motion. Gravitation. Kepler's laws. Fluids. Waves. Sound. Interference, diffraction, and polarization. Thermodynamics. Includes weekly laboratory. Prerequisites: Physics 31 and Math 11. (Math 12 may be taken concurrently.) The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

33. Physics for Scientists and Engineers III
Electrostatics. Gauss's law. Potential. Capacitance. Electric current. Resistance. Kirchhoff's rules. DC circuits. AC circuits. Magnetic force. Ampere's Law. Electromagnetic induction.  Includes weekly laboratory. Prerequisites: Math 12 and Physics 32. (Math 13 may be taken concurrently.) The PHYS 31/32/33 sequence and the PHYS 11/12/13 sequence cannot both be taken for credit. (5 units)

34. Physics for Scientists and Engineers IV
Special relativity. Historical development of modern physics: black body radiation, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, X-rays, Bohr atom, DeBroglie wavelength, Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Quantum waves and particles. Schrödinger equation. Nuclear structure and decay. Particle physics. Introduction to semiconductors. Includes weekly laboratory. Prerequisite: Physics 33. (5 units)

70. Electronic Circuits for Scientists
Linear electric circuits. DC analysis, network theorems, phasor AC analysis. Diode circuits. Physics of p-n junction. Junction diodes, field-effect devices, bipolar junction transistors. Elementary amplifiers. Small-signal device models. Logic gates, digital integrated circuits, Boolean algebra, registers, counters, memory. Operational Amplifier circuits. Linear amplifier bias circuits. Includes weekly laboratory. Prerequisite: Physics 33. (5 units)

103. Analytical and Numerical Methods in Physics
Basic elements of programming in MATLAB®. Ordinary and partial differential equations. Fourier transforms and spectral analysis. Linear regression and curve fitting. Numerical integration. Stochastic methods. Selected applications include planetary motion, diffusion, Laplace and Poisson equations and waves. Weekly computer lab. Prerequisites: PHYS 33 and MATH 22 or AMTH 106. (5 units)

104. Analytical Mechanics
Calculus of variations. Hamilton’s principle. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches to classical dynamics. Central force motion. Noninertial reference frames. Dynamics of rigid bodies, Selected topics in classical dynamics such as coupled oscillators, special relativity and chaos theory. Prerequisites: PHYS 31 and MATH 22 or AMTH 106. (5 units)

111. Electromagnetic Theory I
Review of vector calculus. Dirace delta function. Electrostatic fields. Work and energy. Laplace’s and Poisson’s equations. Separation of variables. Fourier’s trick. Legendre equation. Multipole expansion. Computational problems. Prerequisites: PHYS 33 and MATH 22 or AMTH 106. Co-requisite PHYS 103. (5 units)

112. Electromagnetic Theory II
Magnetostatics. Induced electromotive forces. Maxwell’s equations. Energy and momentum in electrodynamics. Electromagnetic stress tensor. Electromagnetic waves. Potential formulation. Computational problems. Dipole radiation. Prerequisite: PHYS 111. (5 units)

113. Advanced Electromagnetism and Optics
Geometric optics. Polarization and optically active media. Interferometry. Optical signal and noise in detection and communication. Interaction of light with metals, dielectrics, and atoms. Thermal radiation. Laser operation. Prerequisite: PHYS 112. (5 units)

116. Physics of Solids
Crystal structure. Phonons. Free electron theory of metals. Band theory of solids. Semiconductors. Electrical and thermal transport properties of materials. Magnetism. Superconductivity. Topics from current research literature. PHYS 116 is taught as a capstone course. Prerequisites: PHYS 120, PHYS 121, and senior standing. (5 units)

120. Thermal Physics
Laws of thermodynamics with applications to ideal and nonideal systems. Elementary kinetic theory of gases. Entropy. Classical and quantum statistical mechanics. Selected topics from magnetism and low-temperature physics. Prerequisites: PHYS 34 and PHYS 103. Recommended: PHYS 121. (5 units)

121. Quantum Mechanics I
The Schrödinger equation. The wave-function and its interpretation. One dimensional potentials. Harmonic oscillator. Methods in linear algebra including matrix operations, unitary transformations and rotations, eigenvalue problems and diagonalization. Hilbert space, observables, operators, and Dirac notation. The hydrogen atom. Prerequisites: PHYS 34 and PHYS 103. (5 units)

122. Quantum Mechanics II
Angular momentum and spin. Electrons in EM field. Addition of angular momenta. Identical particles. Time-independent perturbation theory. Fine and hyperfine structure. Time-dependent perturbation theory and its application to light-matter interaction. Fermi's golden rule.  Prerequisite: PHYS 121. (5 units)

123. Quantum Mechanics III
Variational principle. WKB approximation. Scattering theory. Quantum paradoxes. Introduction to quantum computation: qubits, quantum gates and circuits, quantum teleportation, quantum algorithms, error correction codes. Quantum computer implementations. Includes weekly laboratory. Prerequisite: PHYS 122. (5 units)

141. Modern Topics in Physics
A selection of current topics in physics research. (5 units)

151. Advanced Laboratory
Laboratory-based experiments in the areas of atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics. Emphasis on in-depth understanding of underlying physics, experimental techniques, data analysis, and dissemination of results. Design and implementation of independent table-top project. Introduction to LabVIEW™. Written and oral presentations. Prerequisite: Senior standing. (5 units)

161. Introduction to Astrophysics
A survey of astronomy for science majors focused on the physics and mathematics that astronomers use to interpret observations of planets, stars, and galaxies. Topics include the kinematics of objects in the solar system, the nature of stars and their evolution, and the origin and fate of the universe. Prerequisite: PHYS 33. PHYS 34 recommended but not required. (5 units)

162. Cosmology
A survey of cosmology for science majors. Much of the course will focus on the properties of an idealized, perfectly smooth, model universe. Topics include the formulation of galaxies and clusters in an evolving universe, governing differential equations which describe the dynamics of the universe, the Benchmark Model of the universe, Dark Matter and Dark Energy, the Cosmic Microwave Background and its fluctuation spectrum, annihilation epochs and their consequences, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and problems with the standard Big Band models and inflation theory. Prerequisites: PHYS 34 or PHYS 161. Knowledge of calculus through differential equations is assumed. (5 units)

171. Biophysics
Diffusion and dissipation in cells. Friction and inertia in biological systems. Entropic and chemical forces. Macromolecules. Molecular machines. Ion pumps. Nerve impulses. Prerequisite: PHYS 33. (5 units)

190. Senior Seminar
Advanced topics in selected areas of physics. Enrollment by permission of instructor. (2 units)

192. Physics and Society
Physics research that has a significant societal impact presented by invited speakers from academia, the private sector, and government laboratories. Students participate in discussions and write reflection papers. Prerequisite: PHYS 34. (1 unit)

198. Undergraduate Physics Research
Departmental work under close professorial direction on research in progress. Permission of the professor directing the research must be secured before registering for this course. (1-5 units)

199. Directed Reading in Physics
Detailed investigation of some area or topic in physics not covered in the regular courses; supervised by a faculty member. Permission of the professor directing the study must be secured before registering for this course. (1-5 units)

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