Applications of Modern Physics: From the Atom to the Diode (PHYS 225) serves both Physics and Electrical Engineering majors at the University of St. Thomas. It is a 4-credit sophomore-level course designed for a 13-week term. Students investigate the quantum theory of light, wave-particle duality, elementary quantum mechanics, statistical physics, lasers, and solid-state physics. The course consists of lecture and laboratory.
Created by Marie Lopez del Puerto, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN
Target Audience: 2nd year Physics and Electrical Engineering students
1. Learn elementary materials science concepts, elementary quantum mechanics concepts, and the modern theory of solids.
2. Understand elementary quantum mechanics, the microscopic origin of the behavior of materials, and the basic operation of semiconductor devices.
3. Learn to apply course material to improve problem solving skills:
3.1. Learn how to apply elementary quantum mechanics to the basic operation of semiconductor devices.
3.2. Learn how to model physics problems in the computer.
The laboratory for the course is closely tied to the class and illustrates complex concepts such as quantized energy levels and probabilities in classical and quantum physics. It follows the theme of “particles in a box.” Laboratories consist of PhET interactive tutorials, computational modeling using MATLAB, and brief, illustrative experiments. Our primary goal in this course is not to develop strong experimental skills, as this is addressed in several other courses in the curriculum, but rather to use experiments to engage students with the material as they test the validity of the computational models they develop. The laboratories feature the interplay between modeling and experiment that is central to the advancement of scientific knowledge, and they give students the theoretical background, mathematical and computational skills they need. Each lab includes specific conceptual, modeling, computational, and/or experimental goals to be achieved by the students.
We are currently developing content utilizing the Parallel Computing Toolbox to introduce students to parallel computing for numerical solution of computationally intensive problems. Additional lab exercises and/or a course project will be implemented to expose students to this approach.