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Physics and Astronomy Information | Physics and Astronomy Programs | Physics and Astronomy Courses

Physics Courses (PHYS)

LOWER DIVISION

100A,B. General Physics (4,4) F,S
Prerequisites: MATH 112 or 117 or 119A or 120 or 122. PHYS 100A is a prerequisite for PHYS 100B.
Year course in introductory physics. First semester considers properties of matter, mechanics, wave motion, and heat. Second semester considers electricity, light, and atomic and nuclear physics.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs, laboratory 3 hrs.) (100A: CAN PHYS 2; 100B: CAN PHYS 4)

102. Introduction to Physics (3) F,S
Prerequisite: MATH 117 (which may be taken concurrently) or three-and-one-half years of high school mathematics including two years of algebra, one year of geometry and one-half year of trigonometry.
Assists students needing additional preparation before enrolling in PHYS 100A or 151. Basic problems and concepts in physics, particularly in mechanics.
Credit/No Credit grading only. Begins in the fourth week of the semester. (Lectures, problem sessions 4 hrs.)

151. Mechanics and Heat (4) F,S
Prerequisite: MATH 122.
Kinematics, Newton’s Laws, rotational motion, fluid statics, laws of thermodynamics.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

152. Electricity and Magnetism (4) F,S
Prerequisites: PHYS 151; MATH 123.
Mechanical waves, Coulomb’s law, electrostatics, electric circuits, introductory electronics, magnetic fields, induction and Maxwell’s equations.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

201. An Introduction to the Fundamentals of Nano-Technology (3)
Broad overview of the key areas, applications, and emerging importance of nano-scale science and engineering in today’s society. For lower-division students thinking of entering majors like physics, biology, and electrical engineering.
(Lecture, 3 hrs.) Letter grade only (A-F).

254. Applied modern Physics (3) F,S
Prerequisites: PHYS 152 or EE 210; MATH 224.
Geometrical and physical optics, models of atomic and condensed matter systems.
Letter grade only (A-F). Not open for credit to students with a “C” or better in PHYS 153 or PHYS 154. (Lecture 3 hrs.)

255. Laboratory on Modern Physics (1)
Prerequisites: PHYS 254, which may be taken concurrently.
Experimental work in optics and modern physics.
Not open for credit to students with a “C” or better in PHYS 153 or PHYS 155. PHYS 255 is equivalent to PHYS 155. Letter grade only (A-F). (Laboratory 3 hrs.)

UPPER DIVISION

310. Mechanics I (3) F
Prerequisites: PHYS 151. Prerequisite/Corequisite: MATH 364A or 370A.
Kinematics and dynamics of mass points and systems of particles. Conservation laws. Harmonic motion. Central force problem. Noninertial frames of reference. Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulation of laws of mechanics.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

320. Classical and Statistical Thermodynamics (3) F
Prerequisite: PHYS 152. Prerequisite/Corequisite, PHYS 254.
Laws of thermodynamics, thermodynamic potentials, kinetic theory methods, phase transitions, equilibrium ensembles and related formalism with applications to classical and quantum systems.
(Lecture 3 hrs.)

330. Experimental Optics and Spectroscopy (3) F
Prerequisites: PHYS 254, 255.
Interference, diffraction, polarization and elementary spectroscopy.
(Lecture 2 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

340A. Electricity and Magnetism I (3) S
Prerequisites: PHYS 152, 310. Prerequisite/Corequisite: MATH 370A or 364A.
Vector calculus, electrostatics, and magnetostatics. Formulation of Maxwell’s equations in vector analytic form.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

340B. Electricity and Magnetism II (3) F
Prerequisite: PHYS 340A. Special relativity.
Applications of Maxwell’s equations: Plane electromagnetic waves, guided waves, radiation, interaction of electromagnetic waves and matter.
(Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

350. Modern Physics (3) S
Prerequisites: PHYS 310; MATH 370A or 364A.
Physical phenomena and models leading to development of quantum mechanics. Schroedinger equation, one-dimensional quantum mechanical problems, uncertainty principle, one-electron atoms, elementary applications of quantum mechanics.
(Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

360. Computers in Physics (3) F
Prerequisite: PHYS 152. Prerequisite/Corequisite: MATH 370A or 364A.
Introduction to use of personal computers in physics calculations and analysis and Mathematica software and programming. Interpolation and fitting of experimental data. Examples of symbolic (analytic) calculations, numerical solutions, and graphical display of results for a variety of physics problems.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

*380. Electronics (4) S
Prerequisite: PHYS 152.
Network analysis and complex impedance, transistor circuits, operational amplifiers, active filters and oscillators, digital electronics, analog-digital interfacing, microprocessors.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

402./502. Fourier Methods in Physics (3) F, odd years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310; MATH 370B or 461. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 402; graduates enroll in PHYS 502.)
Fourier transforms in time and space, convolution, generalized functions, impulse response and transfer function. Application of Fourier techniques to problems in classical acoustics and optics: oscillators, directional radiators, holography, and imaging.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lec 3 hrs)

403./503. Fourier Physics Laboratory (1) F, odd years
Prerequisite/Corequisite: PHYS 402. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 403; graduates enroll in PHYS 503.)
Experiments in acoustics and optics illustrating Fourier techniques in wave physics. Detailed study of discrete Fourier transform and its application to experimental measurements and calculations.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Laboratory 3 hrs.)

410./515. Relativity (3) F, odd years
Prerequisite: PHYS 340A. Prerequisite/Corequisite: MATH 370A or 364A. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 410; graduates enroll in PHYS 515.)
Lorentz transformation, relativistic kinematics and dynamics, 4-vectors and tensors, transformation of electric and magnetic fields, covariant form of Maxwell’s equations, introduction to general relativity.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

422./522. Thermal Physics (3) F, even years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310, 320, 350. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 422; graduates enroll in PHYS 522.)
Entropy and temperature, Boltzmann distribution and Helmholtz free energy, thermal radiation, chemical potential, Gibbs distribution, ideal gas, Fermi and Bose gases, heat and work, Gibbs free energy and chemical reactions, phase transformations and kinetic theory.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lec-discussion 3 hrs)

434./534. Astrophysics (3) F, even years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310, 320, and 340A or consent of the instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 434; graduates enroll in PHYS 534.)
Topics in astrophysics. A particular semester schedule might include one or two topics from: Stellar interiors and evolution, radiative transfer and stellar atmospheres, relativistic cosmology, galaxy formation, accretion disk physics and quasars.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs)

444./544. Plasma Physics (3) S, odd years
Prerequisites: PHYS 340A. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 444; graduates enroll in PHYS 544.)
Characteristic behavior of high temperature plasma. Particle trajectories, two-fluid and hydromagnetic models, waves, instabilities and transport processes. Applications to astrophysical, geophysical and laboratory plasmas.
(Lecture 3 hrs.)

445./545. Fundamentals and Techniques of Materials Physics (3) S, odd years
Prerequisites: PHYS 254; PHYS 450 or consent of instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 445; graduates enroll in PHYS 545.)
Fundamentals of materials physics and physical properties of matter, principles, and operation of scanning tunneling and scanning force microscopes, resistance, and temperature measurements.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 2 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

450. Quantum Physics I (3) F
Prerequisites: PHYS 310, 340A, 350.
Schroedinger equation, atomic physics, harmonic oscillator, scattering, perturbation theory, Heisenberg and Dirac representations, spin, symmetries (angular momentum, time reversal, and parity), applications.
(Lec-discussion 3 hrs.)

*451. Quantum Physics II (3) S, even years
Prerequisite: PHYS 450.
Measurement processes, atomic physics, identical particles, quantum statistics, numerical methods, many-body systems, density matrix, applications.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

470./569. Introduction to Solid State Physics (3) S, odd years
Prerequisite: PHYS 450. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 470; graduates enroll in PHYS 569.)
Study of properties of solids from quantum theoretical viewpoint. Includes lattice vibratons, elastic constants, and thermal, electric, and magnetic properties.
(Lecture 3 hrs.) Letter grade only (A-F).

475./575. Modern Optics (3) F, even years
Prerequisite: PHYS 340A. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 475; graduates enroll in PHYS 575.)
Propagation of electromagnetic waves, optical resonators, laser spectroscopy and operation, optical phase conjugation, nonlinear optics and selected application.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

476./576. Modern Optics Laboratory (1) F, even years
Prerequisites: PHYS 475/575 which may be taken concurrently. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 476; graduates enroll in PHYS 576.)
Experiments illustrating principles and techniques of electro-optics and laser physics. Applications include optical methods in communications, atomic spectroscopy, and nonlinear optics.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Laboratory 3 hrs.)

480./580. Computer Interfacing in Experimental Physics (3) S, even years
Prerequisite: PHYS 380 or consent of instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 480; graduates enroll in PHYS 580.)
Modern data acquisition and analysis methods using computer-based equipment and high level software. Physics experiments performed with standard personal computers, research-quality data acquisition hardware, and programmable instruments. Computer use as tool in execution and interpretation of experiments.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 2 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

490./590. Special Topics in Physics (3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 490; graduates enroll in PHYS 590.)
Physics topics selected from such areas as atomic and nuclear physics, astrophysics, physics of materials, low temperature physics, acoustics, and theoretical physics.
May be repeated to a maximum of 6 units. (Lecture 3 hrs.)

496. Special Problems in Physics (1-3)
Prerequisites: Consent of instructor and senior standing.
Physics problems selected by instructor for considered and mature analysis. Written and 10-minute oral reports required.

GRADUATE LEVEL

500. Research Methods (1)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.
Study of literature about research methods in physics.
May be repeated to a maximum of 2 units; only 1 unit may be applied to the Master of Science in Physics. Letter grade only (A-F).

502./402. Fourier Methods in Physics (3) F, odd years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310; MATH 370B or 461. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 402; graduates enroll in PHYS 502.)
Fourier transforms in time and space, convolution, generalized functions, impulse response and transfer function. Application of Fourier techniques to problems in classical acoustics and optics: oscillators, directional radiators, holography, and imaging.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs)

503./403. Fourier Physics Laboratory (1) F, odd years
Prerequisite/Corequisite: PHYS 502. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 403; graduates enroll in PHYS 503.)
Experiments in acoustics and optics illustrating Fourier techniques in wave physics. Detailed study of discrete Fourier transform and its application to experimental measurements and calculations.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Laboratory 3 hrs.)

510. Graduate Mechanics (4) F
Prerequisite: PHYS 310.
Variational principles, Lagrange’s equations, Hamilton’s equations, canonical transformations, Hamilton-Jacobi theory, relativistic mechanics and small oscillation theory.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 4 hrs.)

515./410. Relativity (3) F, odd years
Prerequisite: PHYS 340A. Prerequisite/Corequisite: MATH 370A or MATH 364A. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 410; graduates enroll in PHYS 515.)
Lorentz transformation, relativistic kinematics and dynamics, 4-vectors and tensors, transformation of electric and magnetic fields, covariant form of Maxwell’s equations, introduction to general relativity.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

522./422. Thermal Physics (3) F, even years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310, 320, 350. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 422; graduates enroll in PHYS 522.)
Entropy and temperature, Boltzmann distribution and Helmholtz free energy, thermal radiation, chemical potential, Gibbs distribution, ideal gas, Fermi and Bose gases, heat and work, Gibbs free energy and chemical reactions, phase transformations and kinetic theory.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture-discussion 3 hrs.)

534./434. Astrophysics (3) F, even years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310, 320, and 340A or consent of the instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 434; graduates enroll in PHYS 534.)
Topics in astrophysics. A particular semester schedule might include one or two topics from: Stellar interiors and evolution, radiative transfer and stellar atmospheres, relativistic cosmology, galaxy formation, accretion disk physics and quasars.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs)

540A. Graduate Electricity and Magnetism and Electrodynamics I (3) S
Prerequisite: PHYS 340B.
Boundary-value problems, applications of special functions to electro/magnetostatics, Green’s function techniques, multipole expansion of electrostatic field, dielectric media, Maxwell’s equations, electromagnetic waves.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

540B. Graduate Electricity and Magnetism and Electrodynamics II (3) F
Prerequisites: PHYS 540A.
Covariant formalism, simple radiating systems, radiation by moving charges, and topics in electrodynamics chosen from the following: wave guides, magnetohydrodynamics, thermodynamics and electrodynamics of continuous media, and radiation reaction.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

544./444. Plasma Physics (3) S, odd years
Prerequisites: PHYS 340A. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 444; graduates enroll in PHYS 544.)
Characteristic behavior of high temperature plasma. Particle trajectories, two-fluid and hydromagnetic models, waves, instabilities and transport processes. Applications to astrophysical, geophysical and laboratory plasmas.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

545./445. Fundamentals and Techniques of Materials Physics (3) S, odd years
Prerequisites: PHYS 254; PHYS 450 or consent of instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 445; graduates enroll in PHYS 545.)
Fundamentals of materials physics and physical properties of matter, principles, and operation of scanning tunneling and scanning force microscopes, resistance, and temperature measurements.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 2 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

550A. Quantum Mechanics I (3) F
Prerequisite: PHYS 450.
Mathematical and postulational basis of quantum mechanics, one-dimensional problems, two-level systems, angular momentum, central potentials, time independent and time dependent perturbation theory.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

550B. Quantum Mechanics II (3) S
Prerequisite: PHYS 550A.
Scattering, rotation group and irreducible tensor operations, identical particles, semi-classical radiation theory, atoms, path integral formalism, and other selected topics.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

554. Nuclear Physics (3)
Prerequisite: PHYS 550A.
Deuteron problem, nucleon-nucleon potential, shell model, nuclear models, nuclear reactions, elementary particles, weak interactions, strong interactions.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

555. Elementary Particle Physics (3) S, even years
Prerequisites: PHYS 310, 340B, 450.
Feynman diagram language of scattering and decay, space-time symmetries, relativistic kinematics, hadron quantum numbers and quark models, QED, QCD and gluons, weak interactions.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

560A,B. Methods of Mathematical Physics (4,3)
Prerequisites: MATH 370A,B or equivalent.
Linear vector spaces, eigen-value problem, functions of complex variable, special functions, properties and methods of solving partial differential equations of physics, integral equations, tensor analysis, and group theory.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 4,3 hrs.)

569./470. Introduction to Solid State Physics (3) S, odd years
Prerequisite: PHYS 450. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 470; graduates enroll in PHYS 569.)
Study of the properties of solids from a quantum theoretical viewpoint. Topics include lattice vibrations, elastic constants, and thermal, electric and magnetic properties.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

570. Solid State Physics (3) F
Prerequisite: PHYS 450.
Modern theory of solids from standpoint of quantum mechanics. Binding in solids, energy bands, electrical thermal and magnetic properties, imperfections, and semiconductors.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

575./475. Modern Optics (3) F, even years
Prerequisite: PHYS 340A. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 475; graduates enroll in PHYS 575.)
Propagation of electromagnetic waves, optical resonators, laser spectroscopy and operation, optical phase conjugation, nonlinear optics and selected applications.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 3 hrs.)

576./476. Modern Optics Laboratory (1) F, even years
Prerequisite: PHYS 475/575 which may be taken concurrently. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 476; graduates enroll in PHYS 576.)
Selected experiments illustrating principles and techniques of current interest in electro-optics and laser physics. Applications include optical methods in communications, atomic spectroscopy, and nonlinear optics.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Laboratory 3 hrs.)

580./480. Computer Interfacing in Experimental Physics (3) S, even years
Prerequisite: PHYS 380 or consent of instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 480; graduates enroll in PHYS 580.)
Modern data acquisition and analysis methods using computer-based equipment and high level software. Physics experiments performed with standard personal computers, research-quality data acquisition hardware, and programmable instruments. Computer use as tool in execution and interpretation of experiments.
Letter grade only (A-F). (Lecture 2 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

590./490. Special Topics in Physics (3)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. (Undergraduates enroll in PHYS 490; graduates enroll in PHYS 590.)
Physics topics selected from such areas as atomic and nuclear physics, astrophysics, physics of materials, low temperature physics, acoustics, and theoretical physics.
May be repeated to a maximum of 6 units. (Lecture 3 hrs.)

599. Quantum Field Theory (3)
Prerequisites: PHYS 550B or consent of instructor.
Topics chosen from: Many-particle systems and field theory; interactions, bound states, and S-matrix; gauge theories and Q.E.D.; path-integral picture. Applications from condensed matter physics, electro-weak interactions, Q.C.D., lattice gauge theory, conformal field theory, string theory.
(Lecture 3 hrs.)

691. Directed Study (1)
Intensive study of advanced topics in physics.
May be repeated to a maximum of 2 units. Letter grade only (A-F).

694. Seminar in Special Topics (1)
Prerequisite: Graduate standing.
Study of research papers and research methods in selected topics. If demand for more than one subject exists, multiple sections may be given in any one semester.
May be repeated to a maximum of 2 units; only 1 unit may be applied to the master’s degree. Letter grade only (A-F). (Seminar 1 hr.)

695. Colloquium (1)
Prerequisites: Graduate standing.
Weekly meetings for presentation and discussion of current research in physics even though only 1 unit is for M.S. degree. Graduate students are expected to attend each semester they are enrolled in University.
Credit/No Credit grading only. (Seminar 1 hr.)

697. Directed Research (1-3)
Theoretical and experimental problems in physics requiring intensive analysis.
Letter grade only (A-F).

698. Thesis (1-6)
Prerequisite: Advancement to candidacy for the M.S. in Physics.
Planning, preparation, and completion of acceptable thesis in partial fulfillment of requirements for master’s degree. A half-hour seminar presenting and defending results of the thesis required. Credit obtained upon formal acceptance of thesis.

Astronomy Courses (ASTR)

LOWER DIVISION

100. Astronomy (3) F,S
Prerequisite/Corequisite: One course from Category B.2 of the GE requirements.
Introductory course in astronomy. The earth moon system and the planets, the stars and their constitution. Survey of the methods of astronomical observation.
(Lecture 3 hrs.)

100L. Introductory Astronomy Laboratory (1) F,S
Prerequisites/Corequisites: One course from Category B.2 of the GE requirements; ASTR 100.
Astronomical coordinates, star maps, magnitude, spectral classification, ages of stars, distance to star clusters.
Not open for credit to students with credit in ASTR 101. (Laboratory 3 hrs.)

UPPER DIVISION

370I. Planetary Environments (3) F,S
Planetary Environments (3) F, S. Prerequisites: Completion of the G.E. Foundation and the G.E. B.1.b category; upper division status.
Planets and moons in our own solar system analyzed and compared as to surface geology, interiors, atmospheres, rings, etc. Methodologies used in observations and scientific reasoning leading to theories about nature and origins of features under study are emphasized. Origin and evolution of terrestrial life, including role of extinction events, and probable requirements for existence and detection of life elsewhere in universe.
(Lecture 3 hrs.)

Physical Science Courses (PHSC)

LOWER DIVISION

112. introduction to the Physical Sciences (3) F,S
Prerequisite/Corequisite: One course from Category B.2 of the GE Foundation.
Selected processes which illustrate some basic principles used by scientists to interpret modern ideas of matter and energy in physical universe.
Not open for credit to majors in any of the physical sciences. (Lecture 2 hrs., laboratory 3 hrs.)

UPPER DIVISION

331. Light, Lasers and the Visual Image (3)
Recommended for art and other non-science majors
Nonmathematical course describing light, its behavior and applications. Emphasis on image formation, optical instruments, science of color, lasers, holography, and analysis of light for elements, planets, and stars. Colorful demonstrations using lasers and holograms including kinetic art.
(Lecture-demonstration 3 hrs.)