Study information

# Thermal Physics - 2023 entry

MODULE TITLE CREDIT VALUE Thermal Physics 15 PHY2023 Dr Luis A. Correa (Coordinator)
DURATION: TERM 1 2 3
DURATION: WEEKS 11
 Number of Students Taking Module (anticipated) 162
DESCRIPTION - summary of the module content
This module builds on the discussion of thermal properties in the Stage 1 PHY1024 Properties of Matter module, introduces classical thermodynamics and shows how its laws arise naturally from the statistical properties of an ensemble. Real-world examples of the key ideas are presented and their application in later modules such as PHY2024 Condensed Matter I and PHY3070 Stars from Birth to Death is stressed. The concepts developed in this module are further extended in the PHYM001 Statistical Physics module.

AIMS - intentions of the module
The aim of classical thermodynamics is to describe the states and processes of of systems in terms of macroscopic directly measurable properties. It was largely developed during the Industrial Revolution for practical purposes, such as improving the efficiency the steam-engines, and its famous three laws are empirically based.

The aim of statistical mechanics, which had major contributions from Maxwell, Boltzmann and Gibbs, is to demonstrate that statistical methods can predict the bulk thermal properties of a system from an atomistic description of matter. The theory provides the only tractable means of analysing the almost unimaginable complexity of an N-body system containing 1023 particles. The classical second law of thermodynamics finds a natural explanation in terms of the evolution of a system from the less probable to the more probable configurations.
INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES (ILOs) (see assessment section below for how ILOs will be assessed)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Module Specific Skills and Knowledge:
1. explain the nature of classical entropy, and its relationship to the second law of thermodynamics;
2. determine the maximum efficiency of simple heat-engines and heat pumps;
3. calculate the equilibrium energy distribution of a system using the Boltzmann distribution;
4. explain the origin of the second law from a statistical viewpoint;
5. describe the significance of various thermodynamic potentials and deduce relations between them;
6. demonstrate, by calculating certain properties of real gases, an understanding of the limitations of the ideal gas law;
7. calculate bulk thermodynamic properties such as heat capacity, entropy and free energy from the partition function;
8. predict whether a gas constitutes a classical or a quantal gas, and explain key differences in the behaviour of these;

Discipline Specific Skills and Knowledge:
9. use calculus to calculate maximum and minimun values of constrained multivariable systems;
10. use graphs and diagrams to illustrate arguments and explanations;

Personal and Key Transferable / Employment Skills and Knowledge:
11. use a range of resources to develop an understanding of topics through independent study;
12. solve problems;
13. apply general concepts to a wide range of specfic systems and situations;
14. meet deadlines for completion of work for problems classes and develop appropriate time-management strategies.
SYLLABUS PLAN - summary of the structure and academic content of the module
I. Introduction
1. Brief historical survey.
II. Basic Thermodynamics
1. Temperature: thermodynamic equilibrium and the Zeroth Law; temperature and heat.
2. Ideal gases: quasistatic and reversible processes; reversible work.
3. Internal energy: adiabatic work; equivalence of work and heat; the First Law.
4. Thermal engines: the Second Law; heat-engine cycle analysis; Carnot's theorem.
5. Entropy: Clausius theorem; entropy; maximum-entropy principle.
1. Thermodynamic potentials
• Energetic potentials, Legendre transform, Maxwell relations.
• Entropic potentials, physical interpretations, stability.
2. Real gases: Joule–Thomson expasion; the van der Waals gas.
3. Phase transitions
• Theory of saturated vapours.
• Clapeyron's equations, classification of phase transitions.
4. Nernst's postulate: the Third Law; unattainability principle.
IV. Statistical Mechanics
1. Boltzmann's principle
• Non-interacting gases, statistical entropy, the partition function.
• Connection with thermodynamics, Boltzmann's factor, the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution.
2. Specific heat: The monoatomic and diatomic ideal gas.
3. Quantum gases
• Bose–Einstein and Fermi–Dirac statistics.
• Planck's radiation law, the electron-gas model.
LEARNING AND TEACHING
LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND TEACHING METHODS (given in hours of study time)
 Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities Guided Independent Study 33 117
DETAILS OF LEARNING ACTIVITIES AND TEACHING METHODS
 Category Hours of study time Description Scheduled learning & teaching activities 22 hours 22×1-hour lectures Guided independent study 30 hours 5×6-hour self-study packages Guided independent study 16 hours 8×2-hour problems sets Scheduled learning & teaching activities 8 hours Problems class support Scheduled learning & teaching activities 3 hours Tutorial support Guided independent study 71 hours Reading, private study and revision

ASSESSMENT
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT - for feedback and development purposes; does not count towards module grade
Form of Assessment Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
Exercises set by tutor (0%) 3×1-hour sets (typical) (Scheduled by tutor) 1-14 Discussion in tutorials
Guided self-study (0%) 5×6-hour packages (Fortnightly) 1-14 Discussion in tutorials

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT (% of credit)
 Coursework Written Exams 10 90
DETAILS OF SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT
Form of Assessment % of Credit Size of Assessment (e.g. duration/length) ILOs Assessed Feedback Method
8 × Problems sets 10% 2 hours per set (weekly) 1-14 Marked in problems class, then discussed in tutorials
Mid-term Test 15% 30 minutes (Term 2, Week 6) 1-13 Marked, then discussed in tutorials
Examination 75% 120 minutes (May/June assessment period) 1-13 Mark via MyExeter, collective feedback via ELE and solutions.

DETAILS OF RE-ASSESSMENT (where required by referral or deferral)
Original Form of Assessment Form of Re-assessment ILOs Re-assessed Time Scale for Re-assessment
Whole module Written examination (100%) 1-13 August/September assessment period

Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

RE-ASSESSMENT NOTES
An original assessment that is based on both examination and coursework, tests, etc., is considered as a single element for the purpose of referral; i.e., the referred mark is based on the referred examination only, discounting all previous marks. In the event that the mark for a referred assessment is lower than that of the original assessment, the original higher mark will be retained.

Physics Modules with PHY Codes
Referred examinations will only be available in PHY3064, PHYM004 and those other modules for which the original assessment includes an examination component - this information is given in individual module descriptors.
RESOURCES
INDICATIVE LEARNING RESOURCES - The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of
information that you are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Convener
ELE: