Physics and astronomy

Optics, Waves and Modern Physics

Module code: F3238
Level 3 (sub-degree)
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Lecture, Workshop
Assessment modes: Coursework, Unseen examination

This module covers:

  • Waves: Definition of a wave. Equation for a progressive wave. Amplitude, wavelength, wavenumber, frequency, phase, energy in waves. Examples of waves. Doppler effect.
  • Interference: Superposition principle, standing waves and harmonics. Reflection at hard and soft boundaries, phase change at reflection, beats, coherence.
  • Physical optics: Coherent sources, optical path difference, two-slit interference pattern, diffraction gratings. Huygens' principle, single-slit diffraction, resolving power, refraction, reflection, total internal reflection. Interference in thin films, wedge fringes, Newton's rings. Michelson's experiment.
  • Introduction to non-classical physics. Topics include wave-particle duality, black body radiation, the photo-electric effect, the Compton effect, Heisenbergs uncertainty principle. The Bohr model of the Hydrogen atom, line spectra. Introduction to the quantum mechanical picture of the hydrogen atom. The Pauli exclusion principle. X-rays and lasers.
  • Nuclear physics. Radioactivity. Nuclear fission and fusion. Introduction to elementary particles.

Module learning outcomes

  • Have acquired a basic knowledge of physical optics including interference and diffraction, and be able to solve problems at the appropriate level which requires use of the knowledge.
  • Have acquired a sufficient grounding in the material of the course for subsequent core courses in physics which include physical optics.
  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of non-classical atomic and nuclear physics.
  • Apply the appropriate laws of physics to problem solving in these areas.