Physics Department Graduate Courses

In a study toward the Ph.D. a number of core courses and electives are required. A grade of B or better is required for credits to count towards departmental requirements.

Upper Level Core Curriculum Courses

PY 721 – Statistical Physics I (Spring)
Basic elements of kinetic theory and equilibrium statistical mechanics, both classical and quantum, applications of the techniques developed to various ideal models of non-interacting particles.

Course approach and philosophy for the following courses are discussed in core descriptions.

PY 781, 782 – Quantum Mechanics I, II (Fall/Spring)
Fundamental concepts and formulations, including interpretation and techniques and the application of theory to simple physical systems, such as the free particle, the harmonic oscillator, the particle a potential well and central force problems. Other topics include approximation methods, identical particles and spin, transformation theory, symmetries and invariance, and an introduction to quantum theory of scattering and angular momentum.

PY 783 – Advanced Classical Mechanics (Fall)
Introduction to theoretical classical mechanics, special relativity, and the motion of charged particles. Topics include variational principles, Hamilton dynamics and canonical transformation theory, structure of the Lorentz group and elementary dynamics of unquantized fields.

PY 785, 786 – Advanced Electricity and Magnetism I, II (Fall/Spring)
Topics including techniques for solution of potential problems, development of Maxwell’s equations, wave equations, energy, force and momentum relations of an electromagnetic field, covariant formulation of electrodynamics, radiation from accelerated charges.

Elective Advanced Level Courses (Taught on demand)

PY 711 – Advanced Quantum Mechanics I (Fall)
Introduction to relativistic quantum theory of Dirac particles and the positron. Other topics include second quantization technique and its application to many-body problems, radiation theory and quantization of the electromagnetic field.

PY 712 – Advanced Quantum Mechanics II (Spring)
A general propagator treatment of Dirac particles, photons, and scalar and vector mesons. Applications of Feynman graphs and rules illustrating basic techniques employed in treatment of electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions. Renormalization theory, the effects of radiative corrections and aspects of the general Lorentz covariant theory of quantized fields.

PY 722 – Statistical Physics II (Fall)
Emphasis on the static and dynamic properties of real interacting systems. Topics including equilibrium theory of fluids and linear response theory of time-dependent phenomena.

PY 753 – Introduction to the Structure Of Solids II (Fall)
The properties of semiconductors, superconductors, magnetics, ferroelectrics, and crystalline defects and dislocations.

A variety of other advanced level courses are taught depending on demand.

Elective Intermediate Level Courses

PY 506 – Nuclear and Subatomic Physics (Fall)
Introduction to nuclear and subatomic phenomena: properties of nuclear radiations and detectors, accelerators, nuclear forces and nuclear structure, elementary articles, fundamental symmetries and conservation laws.

PY 507 – Elementary Particle Physics (Spring)
Introduction to fundamental symmetries and dynamics of quarks and leptons. The Standard Model, Dirac equation, Feynman rules in QED and QCD, the Higgs mechanism, and the electroweak unification.

PY 509 – General Relativity (Fall)
This course provides in-depth knowledge of general relativity covering: Einstein’s equation, Schwarzschild metric, Kerr metric, Friedman-Robertson-Walker metric, Christoffel symbols, Killing vectors, Riemann curvature,and Ricci tensors. Theoretical computations are compared with experimental data including the precession rate of the perihelion for Mercury and the deflection in the solar eclipse, the geodelic affect and the frame dragging effect measured in Gravity Probe B experiment.

PY 516 – Physical Optics (Fall)
Physical optics with major emphasis on wave properties of light. Boundary conditions, interference, and diffraction, optics of thin films, fiber optics and applications to absorption, scattering and laser operation.

PY 517 – Atomic and Molecular Physics
The quantum mechanical treatment of structure and spectra for atoms and molecules. The hydrogen atom, helium atom, multielectron atoms, selection rules, diatomic and simple polyatomic molecules and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

PY 519 – Biological Physics (Spring)
This course presents the application of physics principles and methods to problems in biological systems. Important biological molecules, their structures and their processes are introduced for physical scientists. Functional mechanisms are analyzed with concepts from thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, fluid mechanics, and electrostatics. Modern experimental methods and computational approaches to molecular and cellular level biological phenomena are emphasized.

PY 525 – Computational Physics (Fall)
Computational approaches to physics problem solving using standard software relevant for physicists. Electrostatic potentials, data analysis, Monte Carlo simulations, Fourier optics, particle orbits, Schroedinger’s equation. Examples and assignments for each topic chosen to complement other physics courses.

PY 528 – Introduction to Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy
Concepts in plasma physics, basics of thermonuclear reactions, charged particle collisions, single particle motions and drifts, radiation from plasmas and plasma waves, fluid theory of plasmas, formation and heating of plasmas, plasma confinement, fusion devices and other plasma applications.

PY 543 – Astrophysics (Spring)
Basic physics necessary to investigate, from observational data, internal conditions and evolutions of stars. The formation and structure of spectral lines, methods of energy generation and transport, stellar structure, degeneracy, white dwarfs and neutron stars.

PY 552 – Introduction to the Structure Of Solids (Spring)
Basic consideration of crystalline, polycrystalline, and amorpohous solids, metals, conductors and semiconductors.

PY 561 – Electronics for Physicists
Analog and digital electronics laboratory course serving as introduction to use of modern instrumentation required for experimental research in physics. Bipolar and field effect transistors, operational amplifiers, oscillators, power supplies, analog-digital and digital-analog conversion and digital logic circuits.

PY 590 – Special Topics in Physics – CM/Bio Seminar
Investigations in physics under staff guidance. May consist of literature reviews, experimental or theoretical projects or special topics lectures. Credits Arranged.

PY 590 – Special Topics in Physics – Quantum Optics (Spring)
Investigations in physics under staff guidance. May consist of literature reviews, experimental or theoretical projects or special topics lectures. Credits Arranged.

PY 599 – Special Topics in Physics – PhysTec
Investigations in physics under staff guidance. May consist of literature reviews, experimental or theoretical projects or special topics lectures. Credits Arranged.

Half-Semester Specialized Courses (Recently offered, will likely be offered again)

Physics Skills
(1) Machine-shop drawings and basic competence with lathes, milling machines, and other tools.  (2) Linear and nonlinear methods of reducing noise and extracting information from data.

Professional Communications:
Improving student effectiveness in analyzing and presenting their results by improving their ability to write, speak, and compose figures and posters.

Physics of Quantum Computing
An introduction to some physical aspects of quantum computers, including hands-on sessions in solving physics problems on quantum computers.

Granular Physics
An introduction to the physics of granular solids, liquids, and gases, including current research techniques and open questions.

Cosmology
A student-led introduction to the foundations of modern cosmology and the current lambda-CDM paradigm.

Topological aspects of materials
An introduction to the recent rise of topology and its role in condensed matter physics.

Upper Atmosphere and Space Physics

Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics
An introduction to astrophysical fluid dynamics using a combination of analytical and computational methods.  Review of static and self-similar solutions applicable to astrophysical systems, use of linear perturbation analysis to study fluid instabilities, and an overview of computational methods and application of research codes to fluid systems.

Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics of Nanosystems
Functional systems both in nanotechnology and molecular biophysics are characterized by the facts that they are rarely in equilibrium, and that their small size makes the magnitude of thermal fluctuations of parameters comparable to their equilibrium values.  This course surveys some fundamentals of  statistical mechanics  of fluctuations, and then applies them non-equilibrium processes with specific emphasis on small systems.