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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Statistical Physics
Module Code PS302
School School of Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Huw Leggate
Semester 2: Huw Leggate
Autumn: Huw Leggate
Module TeachersTimo Gans
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat examination

The aims of the module are to analyse the behaviour of large number of quantum particles using statistical methods and to show how these can be used to calculate the structure and properties of solids, liquids, gases and light.

Learning Outcomes

1. Explain the fundamental nature of the concepts of temperature and entropy at both the macroscopic and microscopic levels and their relationship.
2. Predict the microscopic states of systems of bosons and fermions and their total energy in the quantum and classical limits.
3. Outline the results of the particle-in-the-box model and notably the concept of density of states and its role in statiscal mechanics
4. Explain how the macroscopic properties of localised and classical particles can be obtained using the concept of partition function.
5. Outline the properties of the fermion gas in general and of the degenerate electron gas, in particular, to obtain a basic model for the structure of metals.
6. Outline the basic properties of the boson gas, in general, and of the photon gas in particular.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture24In class instruction using computerised presentations.
Tutorial6Numerical problems and worked examples. Integrated with lecture series
Independent Study95Study of course material, preparation of in class tests, revision for end of semester examination
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Lecture Series: Review of Classical Thermodymanics/Reformulation in terms of total differentials and partial derivatives
Macroscopic state of thermodynamic systems, First and Second laws: Temperature and entropy, Intensive (U,V,N) and Extensive (T,P,mu) variables, Definition and importance of chemical potential mu, Gibbs-Duhem equation, Total differential of internal energy U, Thermodynamic potentials, Free energy F and thermostats.

Lecture series: states of systems of quantum particles
Microstates of individual particles, configurations of systems of particles. Distinguishable and indistinguishable particles, most probable configuration, fluctuations. Bosons, fermions and classical limit (Maxwell-Boltzmann)

Tutorials and Worked problems
Counting, Arrangements and Combinations, Distributions (mean, variance, moments, Binomial, Poisson, Gaussian, Central Limit Theorem), classical vs quantum (indistinguishability) behaviour, Stirling approximation, Degeneracy/statistical weight of a quantum system (atom of hydrogen).

Lecture Series: Methods of Statistical Physics
Postulates, Extremum Principle, Lagrange multipliers, Work and heat, Statistical interpretation of entropy (Boltzmann postulate and Boltzmann constant), temperature and pressure

Lecture Series: Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution
The partition function, Definition, Partition function and thermodymanics, Domains of validity of M.B statistics for quantum systems, Applications of Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution: The two-level system, The ideal monoatomic gas, The one-dimensional harmonic oscillator, Internal degrees of freedom, The diatomic molecule, The chemical potential of an ideal diatomic gas, Equilibrium conditions and dissociation

Tutorials and Worked problems
Maths: Gaussian integrals, gamma integrals and geometric series, Ideal gas law in terms of Boltzmann constant, number density of particles, partial pressures, Ideal gas and MB equilibrium, MB distribution of molecular velocities, Properties of ideal gas, Rigid rotator energy spectrum and partition function/temperature dependence, Gas of harmonic oscillators: spectrum, partition function, thermodynamic properties, Harmonic solid/Einstein temperature/Dulong-Petit law, Dissociation equilibrium of H2 molecule, Ionisation equilibrium of H atom/Saha-Boltzmann equation, Spin-flip system/paramagnets: order/disorder, partition function, entropy and magnetisation energy, adiabatic cooling and cryogenics

Lecture Series: Quantum Statistics
The Ideal Fermion Gas, General Properties, Applications:Free electron theory of metals, Model for the atomic nucleus, White dwarf stars. The Ideal Boson Gas, General Properties, Applications: The Photon Gas, The Bose-Einstein Condensation

Tutorials and Worked Problems
Basic calculations of Fermi energy from electron density data, Total energy of the free electron gas, Blackbody radiator, Temperature dependence of Blackbody spectrum

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment20% Examination Weight80%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
In Class TestFirst in class test: problem with 3/4 short numerical questions. On counting and particle in box model only.10%Week 5
In Class TestSecond in class test: problem with 3/4 short numerical questions. On Maxwell-Boltzmann chapter only10%Week 10
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 3
Indicative Reading List

  • Mike Glazer and Justin Wark: 2001, Statistical Mechanics A Survival Guide, First edition, Chapters 1-9, Oxford University Press, 0 19 850815 8,
  • Jean-Paul Mosnier/Moodle Notes/DCU: 2009, Statistical Physics,
  • F. Mandl: 2002, Statistical Physics, Second Edition, 2002 reprint, Chapters 1-7, 9-11, Wiley,
  • L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz: 2001, Statistical Physics, 3rd Edition, part1, Butterworth Heinemann,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
APBSc in Applied Physics
BSSAStudy Abroad (DCU Business School)
BSSAOStudy Abroad (DCU Business School)
HMSAStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
HMSAOStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
IESAStudy Abroad (Institute of Education)
IESAOStudy Abroad (Institute of Education)
PANBSc Physics with Data Analytics
PBMBSc Physics with Biomedical Sciences
PHABSc in Physics with Astronomy
SHSAStudy Abroad (Science & Health)
SHSAOStudy Abroad (Science & Health)
Date of Last Revision11-NOV-02

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