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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: PHY1031 Module Title: WAVES, PARTICLES & QUANTA
Module Provider: Physics Short Name: PHY1031
Level: HE1 Module Co-ordinator: REGAN PH Prof (Physics)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Semester 1 and Semester 2
Assessment Pattern

Assessment Pattern


Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)


Principles of Physics Examination




Waves in Physics Examination




Atoms Molecules and Quanta Examination




Waves in Physics/Principles of Physics Class Tests




Atoms, Molecules and Quanta Class Test




Qualifying Condition(s):


University general regulations refer.







Assessment Schedule


Semester 1 Coursework:


Two class tests: one in week 7 and one in week 15, covering both the Principles of Physics and Waves in Physics material



Semester 2 Coursework:


Class test in week 7 on Atoms, Molecules and Quanta material      


Examination Paper 2 (June):


3 hour examination consisting of;



Section A, answer 3 shorter questions on each of Principles of Physics, Waves in Physics and Atoms, Molecules and Quanta (weighted at 35% of examination paper)






Section B, answer 2 from 3 longer questions on each of Principles of Physics, Waves in Physics, Atoms, Molecules and Quanta (weighted at 65% of the examination)


Module Overview
Principles of Physics: 
This component covers some of the fundamental principles in classical physics including a discussion of units of measurement, the kinematics and dynamics of objects and conservation laws. 

Waves in Physics:


This component covers introductory concepts of simple harmonic motion and waves, drawing on, and bringing together examples from different branches of physics including mechanics, optics, electronics, crystallography and electromagnetism.  The course builds on Principles of Physics, and as in that course component, attempts to show the unifying themes between the different subject areas.



Atoms Molecules and Quanta:


This component identifies the new theories necessary to describe physical processes when we go beyond the normal speeds and sizes experienced in everyday life.  A review of new phenomena that led to the development of quantum theory follows naturally into an introduction to the theory of atomic structure.  Along the way, the Schrödinger equation is introduced and elementary applications are considered.  Several important aspects of the structure and spectroscopy of atoms are considered in detail.
Principles of Physics, Waves in Physics & Atoms Molecules and Quanta : Pre-university education to Advanced Level standard or equivalent.
Module Aims

Principles of Physics:


To provide knowledge and understanding on the fundamental principles of classical physics. To remind students of standard SI units and the role of the vector and scalar representation of physical quantities. To inform students about the motion of particles and solids under different conditions as governed by Newton 's Laws. To discuss the conservation laws on which classical physics is based.



Waves in Physics:


To build on the introductory Principles of Physics component by the exploration of a range of classical physics phenomena broadly linked by the theme "waves".  The component introduces the wave equation and the concepts of angular frequency and wave number which recur throughout Physics.  These basic concepts are repeatedly reinforced by the examples given.  The course also introduces the concepts of superposition and interference, reflection and refraction, diffraction and polarisation primarily through a study of linear optics.



Atoms Molecules and Quanta:


To provide an understanding of the principles underlying elementary quantum theory and their experimental foundation.  To develop quantum principles so that the meaning and the use of the Schrödinger equation can be appreciated.  To instil a knowledge of the shell and orbital structure of atoms, and key effects such as fine structure.  Generally, to provide a broad foundation for further studies of atomic, nuclear and solid state phenomena, and to provide an introduction to spectroscopic notation and angular momentum coupling.


Learning Outcomes

Principles of Physics:


After completing this component, the student should be able to demonstrate through the solution of simple problems: (i) a grounding in the fundamental principles of classical physics (ii) an ability to treat physical problems within a mathematical framework and (iii) to specifically apply these concepts in mechanics.



Waves in Physics:


At the end of this component, the student should be able to (i) analyse simple systems undergoing simple harmonic motion and be able to derive equations describing the motion and expressions for the oscillation frequency; (ii) derive the wave equation for the case of, e.g. waves on a string; (iii) analyse simple waveforms travelling along, e.g. the string; (iv) undertake calculations of frequency shifts arising from the Doppler effect; (v) draw and use ray diagrams for problems in linear optics involving simple lenses, prisms and the like; (vi) know and be able to use the equations describing these ray diagrams; (vii) be able to calculate interference and diffraction patterns arising from, e.g. multiple point sources of light and slits of finite width; (viii) demonstrate an understanding of the working of selected optical instruments; (ix) derive and apply Bragg’s Law for X-ray diffraction; (x) demonstrate an intuitive feel for fundamental and basic properties such as the speed, frequency and wavelength of light; and (xi) be able to work with notations based on f and l and on w and k;.



Atoms Molecules and Quanta:


After completing this component, the student should be able to: (i) state the reasons behind energy quantization in atoms and other physical systems; (ii) describe basic quantum phenomena and atomic structure including fine structure; (iii) recognize the Schrödinger equation and describe in principle how it is solved; (iv) describe the basic rules for coupling two angular momenta in quantum mechanics; (v) deduce atomic electron configurations and describe them using spectroscopic notation; (vi) explain basic results in atomic spectroscopy including selection rules and the atomic hydrogen spectrum; (vii) undertake a higher level course that includes learning explicitly how to solve the Schrödinger equation.


Module Content

Principles of Physics:


  • Space, Time and Mass (3 hours)


SI units, multiples and submultiples of units, the units of length, mass and time, c, as a standard speed, dimensions in equations of physics.  Derived units for important physical quantities, orders of magnitude, estimation and significant figures.


  • Representation of Physical Quantities (4 hours)


Physical quantities represented as scalars and vectors, simple operations involving vector quantities, position as a vector quantity, components, magnitudes and units, rate of change of position and velocity.


  • The Usefulness of the Vector Representation (4 hours)


The scalar and vector product, the right-hand rule, examples of the use of the vector product, description as a 3x3 determinant and the scalar triple product as the volume of a solid.


  • General Kinematics (4 hours)


Position, velocity and acceleration, motion with constant acceleration, graphical representation and dealing with infinitesimal changes.


  • General Dynamics (5 hours)


Newton 's Laws, force and momentum, principle of superposition of forces, frictional forces and the four fundamental forces in nature.


  • Conservation Laws (9 hours)


Conservative forces, work done, potential and kinetic energy, the electron volt as a unit of energy, conservation of mechanical energy, conservation of momentum, conservation of energy, application to systems of particles, centre-of-mass and centre-of-mass velocity, conservation in 2-body collisions, mass and energy, E = mc2.


  • Rotational Motion (7 hours)


Uniform circular motion, angular and centripetal acceleration, rotation of a solid about a fixed axis, moment of inertia, angular momentum and torque, conservation of angular momentum and the behaviour of the gyroscope.



Waves in Physics:


The course follows the text, Fundamentals of Physics Extended by Halliday, Resnick and Walker (HRW)


Wave Concepts (HRW Ch 15 and 16) (12 hours)


·                Simple harmonic motion


·                Longitudinal and transverse wave motion


·                Frequency, angular frequency, wavelength, wave number, "speed"


·                The wave equation in one dimension


·                Superposition, beating, phase, group, particle velocities


·                Energy and momentum


Mechanical Waves (HRW Ch 16 and 17) 6 hours


·                Waves on a string, string boundaries and joins, standing waves.


·                Sound waves, Doppler effect


Waves in Optics (HRW Ch 33, 34, 35 and 36) 15 hours


·                Huygens construction


·                Reflection, refraction, diffraction, refractive index


·                Geometrical optics, lens formulae, magnification, telescope, microscope


·                Optical fibres


·                Interference


·                Fabry Perot interferometer


·                Diffraction - single, double slit and grating diffraction


·                Resolving power


Waves in Crystals (HRW Ch 36 and RO Ch 2) 3 hours


·                Braggs' law, diffraction patterns, X-ray


·                Crystal structure, introduction to the reciprocal lattice


·                Review of the course bringing out the unifying themes.


·                Recapitulation and Summary 1 hour demonstrations


General discussion; Linkages; Problems, Worked examples and Quizzes 5 hours



Atoms Molecules and Quanta:


·                Introduction 2 hours


The need for quantum theory, outline of course.


·                Quanta of light 5 hours


Electromagnetic waves and light, blackbody radiation, photoelectric effect, Compton effect.


·                Wave-particle duality 3 hours


De Broglie hypothesis, Born interpretation, Heisenberg uncertainty principle.


·                Quantum mechanics 6 hours


Arguments leading to the Schrödinger equation, solution for a free particle, wave functions, solution for a particle in a box, implications for energy quantization.


·                Quantum structure of atoms 8 hours


Atomic spectra, Franck-Hertz experiment, spectral lines for hydrogen, Bohr model, hydrogen atom in quantum mechanics, electron spin (Stern-Gerlach experiment), Zeeman effect.


·                Multi-electron atoms 10 hours


Pauli exclusion principle, shell structure, low levels of alkali atoms, characteristic x-rays, optical spectra, addition (coupling) of angular momentum, helium spectrum.


·                 Molecules 2 hours


Methods of Teaching/Learning

Principles of Physics:


36 hours of lectures/demonstrations.



Waves in Physics:


36 hours of lectures, examples classes, discussion periods, tutorials and demonstration experiments.



Atoms Molecules and Quanta:


36 hours of taught periods including lecture and tutorial classes.


Selected Texts/Journals

Principles of Physics:


Main Course Text


Waves in Physics and Principles of Physics


i.                D Halliday, R Resnick and J Walker, Fundamentals of Physics, 7th Edition, John Wiley, New York (2005) ISBN 0-471-21643-7 (required).


NB: This is the latest edition, earlier editions are also suitable but chapter numbers differ.



There are many other very similar books available which cover broadly the same material including (but not limited to) the following;



i.                H. D. Young and R. A. Freedman, University Physics with Modern Physics, 10th Edition, Addison Wesley Longman, San Francisco (2000) ISBN 0-201-70059-X.


ii.              R. A. Serway and J. W. Jewett Jnr., Physics for Scientists and Engineers, with Modern Physics, 6th Edition, Thomson, Belmont (2004) ISBN 0-534-40844-3


iii.             P. M. Fishbane, S. G. Gasiorowicz and S. T. Thornton, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, with Modern Physics, 3rd Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey (2005) ISBN 0-13-191182-1



Further Recommended Reading :


Waves in Physics:


i.                Rosenberg, The Solid State , Oxford .


ii.              Pain, The Physics of Vibrations and Waves, John Wiley, New York .


iii.             Gough, Richards and Williams, Vibrations and Waves, Prentice-Hall.



Atoms Molecules and Quanta:


i.                K Krane, Modern Physics, [Second Edition], Wiley, 1996, ISBN 0-471-82872-6 2


ii.              R Eisberg and R Resnick, Quantum Physics, Wiley, 1974, ISBN 0-471-87373X.


Last Updated
August 2010.