Physics
Department Information

Physics

Ted Bunn, Chair
Professor Bunn, Gilfoyle
Associate Professors Lipan, Singal, Trawick
Assistant Professors de Sousa Dias, Helms 
Manager of Laboratories Belk

Major

The Physics Major

For the Bachelor of Arts degree

11 units, including:

PHYS 127 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab or PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 201 Einstein's Relativity

PHYS 202 Particle/Wave Duality and the Quantum Revolution

PHYS 205 Introduction to Modern Physics

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory

PHYS 397-PHYS 398 Junior Seminar

PHYS 497-PHYS 498 Senior Seminar

Three additional units in PHYS

MATH 212 Calculus II or MATH 232 Scientific Calculus II

Two additional units in courses approved by the department

This degree is offered primarily for students who wish to pursue a career in education or business or wishing to earn a cultural degree.

For the Bachelor of Science degree

13-14 units, including:

PHYS 127 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab or PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory

PHYS 301 Mathematical Methods in Physics

PHYS 303 Classical Mechanics

PHYS 305 Electromagnetism

PHYS 308 Statistical Mechanics

PHYS 309 Quantum Mechanics I

PHYS 397-PHYS 398 Junior Seminar

PHYS 497-PHYS 498 Senior Seminar

Experimental work in addition to PHYS 221 chosen from:

PHYS 216 Electronics

PHYS 231 Experimental Physics

PHYS 381 Research

PHYS 406 Summer Undergraduate Research

One unit, chosen from:

CHEM 141 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

CMSC 150 Introduction to Computing

CMSC 155 Introduction to Scientific Computing

MATH 235 Multivariate Calculus

MATH 245 Linear Algebra

Two additional units in PHYS numbered above 200, excluding PHYS 381

Students are expected to fulfill all prerequisites necessary for courses within the major. Prerequisites do not count toward the major unless otherwise noted.

Interdisciplinary Major

The Interdisciplinary Physics Major for the Bachelor of Science Degree

Note: Students cannot major in both physics and interdisciplinary physics.

This degree is intended for students with a broad interest in several sciences or interdisciplinary science or who wish to pursue one of the engineering options.

15 units, including:

PHYS 127 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab or PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab

One unit, chosen from

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab

One unit, chosen from:

PHYS 201 Einstein's Relativity

PHYS 202 Particle/Wave Duality and the Quantum Revolution

PHYS 205 Introduction to Modern Physics

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory

PHYS 301 Mathematical Methods in Physics

PHYS 397-PHYS 398 Junior Seminar

PHYS 497-PHYS 498 Senior Seminar

MATH 211-MATH 212 Calculus I-II or MATH 232 Scientific Calculus II

Three additional units in physics at the 200 level or above

One of the concentrations described below. All concentrations require 4-5 additional units beyond those listed above.

Biology Concentration

BIOL 200 Integrated Biological Principles I

CHEM 141 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

Three additional units in biology

Biochemistry Concentration

CHEM 141 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

CHEM 205-CHEM 206 Organic Chemistry

CHEM 326 Biochemistry

Chemistry Concentration

CHEM 141 Chemistry: Structure, Thermodynamics, and Kinetics

CHEM 309-CHEM 310 Physical Chemistry and CHEM 314-CHEM 315 Physical Chemistry Laboratory

One additional unit in chemistry

Computer Science Concentration

CMSC 150 Introduction to Computing or CMSC 155 Introduction to Scientific Computing

CMSC 221 Data Structures with Lab

Three additional units in computer science

Mathematics Concentration

MATH 235 Multivariate Calculus

MATH 245 Linear Algebra

MATH 312 Differential Equations

Two additional units in mathematics at the 300 level or above

Engineering Concentration: Five units of engineering courses

This concentration is intended for students participating in the 3-2 engineering program.

The required units will be earned at another institution.

Minor

The Physics Minor

Five units, including:

Three units numbered above 200, excluding 397-398 and 497-498

Two additional units in PHYS

Engineering Program

Dual-Degree (3-2) Engineering Program

Building on the strengths of majors in physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, and biology, the School of Arts and Sciences offers students with special career goals the ability to pursue dual degrees in a five-year period. Some opportunities allow a student to earn a Bachelor of Science from Richmond and also a Bachelor of Science from a cooperating engineering school, while others enable a student to complete an undergraduate degree from Richmond and an accelerated master's degree in engineering from a partner institution--all within a five-year period. The physics department's pre-engineering advisor can provide information about participating programs and requirements.

Honors

Honors Program

Specific requirements for honors in physics:
  1. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 in their physics courses, in addition to the 3.3 GPA required overall.
  2. At least 3.5 units of courses designated as honors courses. These courses will bedivided as follows:

(a) One unit must be independent research, typically done as research with an individual physics faculty member. These will typically be fulfilled by two semesters PHYS 381 for 0.5 credit units each.

(b) 0.5 units must be from taking both semesters of senior seminar, PHYS 497 and PHYS 498. As a part of this course, physics honors students will be required to present at least one oral presentation on the topic of their independent research undertaken for part (a). Physics honors students will also be required to present a final written thesis describing their research. The thesis and oral presentation must be approved at an honors level by the research supervisor and at least two additional readers within the physics department, or their designees.

(c) The remaining courses (2.0 units) may be any courses in physics numbered 200 or higher, including approved transfer courses, that are specifically above the current requirements for a B.S. in physics.

Courses
PHYS 121 Astronomy with Lab
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNP)
Description
Celestial motions, stellar structure, cosmology, and related problems including appropriate concepts of elementary physics. Not among the recommended options for science or math majors. Includes laboratory.

PHYS 125 Elements of Physics with Lab
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNP)
Description
Principles and applications of physics. Topics selected from mechanics, sound, light, electricity, magnetism, heat, and modern physics. Not among the recommended options for science or math majors. Includes laboratory.

PHYS 127 Algebra-Based General Physics 1 with Lab
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNP)
Description
First of a two semester sequence in general physics. Topics for Physics 127 include kinematics, forces, conservation of momentum, work and energy, rotational motion, and oscillations. Includes laboratory. NOTE: Physics 127 is not a prerequisite to 128. A student may not receive credit for both Physics 131 and 127. Physics 127 and 128 are offered very rarely; students should generally plan to take 131 and 132 instead.
Prerequisites
Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry.

PHYS 128 Algebra-Based General Physics 2 with Lab
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNP)
Description
Second semester of a two semester sequence in general physics. Topics for Physics 128 include electricity and magnetism, heat and thermodynamics, and wave optics. Includes laboratory. NOTE: A student may receive credit for only one of the following courses: 128, 132, 133, 134. Physics 127 and 128 are offered very rarely; students should generally plan to take 131 and 132 instead.
Prerequisites
Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry.

PHYS 131 Calculus-Based General Physics 1 with Lab
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNP)
Description
First semester of a calculus-based introductory sequence. Topics for Physics 131 include kinematics, forces, conservation of momentum, work and energy, rotational motion, and oscillations. Includes laboratory. NOTE: A student may not receive credit for both Physics 127 and 131.
Prerequisites
MATH 190 or 211 (may be taken concurrently).

PHYS 132 Calculus-Based General Physics 2 with Lab
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSNP)
Description
Second semester of a calculus-based introductory sequence. Topics for Physics 132 include electricity and magnetism, heat and thermodynamics, and wave optics. Includes laboratory. NOTE: A student may receive credit for only one of the following courses: 128, 132, 133, 134. Although Physics 127 is an acceptable prerequisite for Physics 132, a calculus-based course such as Physics 131 or 191 is recommended.
Prerequisites
MATH 212 (may be taken concurrently) and PHYS 127 or 131 or 191 or permission of instructor.

PHYS 191 Integrated Science/Math/Computer Science 4 with Laboratory
Units: 1
Description
One of two courses taught spring semester as part of Integrated Quantitative Science program. Each semester of the course will be organized around a guiding principle that integrates several concepts. Along with co-requisite, will include ten hours for lecture and lab combination.
Prerequisites
High school calculus. BIOL 190 and MATH 190. Co-requisite: CHEM 191. Acceptance to Integrated Quantitative Science course required.

PHYS 201 Einstein's Relativity
Units: .5
Description
Focuses primarily on special relativity as it relates to time, space, velocity, momentum, and energy. This course is identical to the first half of PHYS 205, and meets concurrently with it for the first 7 weeks of the semester. Students may not earn credit for both PHYS 201 and PHYS 205.
Prerequisites
PHYS 132, PHYS 133, PHYS 134, or PHYS 191

PHYS 202 Particle/Wave Duality and the Quantum Revolution
Units: .5
Description
Introduces ideas of particle/wave duality that are central to understanding quantum mechanics, a major revolution in early 20th century physics. This course is identical to the second half of PHYS 205, and meets concurrently with it for the second 7 weeks of the semester. Students may not earn credit for both PHYS 202 and PHYS 205. Students are strongly encouraged to take either PHYS 202 or PHYS 205 before taking PHYS 309.
Prerequisites
PHYS 132, PHYS 133, PHYS 134, or PHYS 191

PHYS 203 Systems Biology
Units: 1
Description
Introduction to the fundamentals of systems biology, an emerging field that focuses on complex interactions in biological systems. Topics chosen come from the perspective of the design of biological circuits. For students in the biological sciences, physics, chemistry, and mathematics interested in quantitative biology and the interface between the biological and physical sciences. No laboratory.
Prerequisites
PHYS 131 and BIOL 199 and MATH 211, and CMSC 150 or 155; Or PHYS 191 and CHEM 191.

PHYS 205 Introduction to Modern Physics
Units: 1
Description
Introduction to topics in 20th-century physics including special relativity, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics. The first half of this course is identical to, and meets concurrently with, PHYS 201. The second half of this course is exactly identical to, and meets concurrently with, PHYS 202. Students may not earn credit for both PHYS 205 and either PHYS 201 or PHYS 202. Students are strongly encouraged to take either PHYS 202 or PHYS 205 before taking PHYS 309.
Prerequisites
PHYS 132 or 133 or 134 or 191

PHYS 215 Computational Methods in Physics
Units: 1
Description
Project-oriented: applying computers to solution of problems in physical sciences.
Prerequisites
PHYS 132 or 133 or 134 or 191 and some familiarity with at least one higher-level computer language.

PHYS 216 Electronics
Units: 1
Description
Laboratory course in basic electronics and instrumentation for science majors. Study of dc and ac circuits, diodes, rectifiers, transistors, operational amplifiers, binary logic, Boolean algebra, digital circuits, analog-digital conversion, transducers, and computer interfacing.
Prerequisites
PHYS 127-128 or 132 or 191.

PHYS 221 Intermediate Laboratory
Units: 1
Description
Experiments in classical and modern physics emphasizing independent work. Six laboratory hours per week.
Prerequisites
(PHYS 127 and 128) or (PHYS 132 or 191).

PHYS 231 Experimental Physics
Units: 1
Description
Focuses on optics. Includes the study of (1) ray optics: lenses, system of lenses, lens aberrations (2) scalar wave optics: diffraction, interference (3) polarization of light: states of polarization, polarizers, wave retarders. Emphasizes the relation between experiment and theory through hands-on experience. Data analysis and its theoretical interpretation is a central part of the course. Upper level laboratory course for science majors, emphasizing independent work. Consists of six laboratory hours per week. Students, working in pairs, will spend approximatley 2 weeks on each of 6-7 experimental projects.
Prerequisites
PHYS 132.

PHYS 301 Mathematical Methods in Physics
Units: 1
Description
Selected mathematical topics needed for upper-level work in physics. Topics taken from vector calculus, matrices, calculus of variations, orthogonal functions, and complex analysis. Note: PHYS 301 is typically offered only in the fall semester. Prospective physics majors are strongly encouraged to take PHYS 301 in the fall semester of the sophomore year. PHYS 301 is a prerequisite for PHYS 303, 305, 308, 309, and some special topics courses.
Prerequisites
PHYS 132 or 133 or 134 or 191

PHYS 303 Mechanics
Units: 1
Description
Mathematical analysis of physical laws pertaining to dynamics of particles and rigid bodies. Introduction to moving coordinate systems and Lagrange's and Hamilton's methods.
Prerequisites
PHYS 301 or permission of department.

PHYS 305 Electricity and Magnetism I
Units: 1
Description
Electrostatic fields and potentials, dielectrics, magnetic fields, and potentials. Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves.
Prerequisites
PHYS 301 or permission of department.

PHYS 306 Electricity and Magnetism II
Units: 1
Description
Electrostatic fields and potentials, dielectrics, magnetic fields, and potentials. Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves.
Prerequisites
PHYS 305.

PHYS 308 Statistical Mechanics
Units: 1
Description
Statistical methods applied to description of physical systems. Statistical calculation of thermodynamic quantities, laws of thermodynamics, statistical distributions, and classical and quantum statistics of ideal gases. (Same as Chemistry 308.)
Prerequisites
PHYS 301 or permission of department.

PHYS 309 Quantum Mechanics I
Units: 1
Description
Wave mechanics and quantization; Schroedinger equation for variety of potentials; hydrogen atom in detail; perturbation methods. (Same as Chemistry 401.)
Prerequisites
CHEM 310 or PHYS 301 or permission of department.

PHYS 310 Quantum Mechanics II
Units: 1
Description
Wave mechanics and quantization; Schroedinger equation for variety of potentials; hydrogen atom in detail; perturbation methods. (Same as Chemistry 402.)
Prerequisites
PHYS 309.

PHYS 381 Research
Units: 0, .25, or .5
Description
Laboratory or independent study.0.5 units requires six hours per week. PHYS 381 may be taken a maximum of four times. Both available for 0, .25, or .5 units.
Prerequisites
Permission of department.

PHYS 397 Junior Seminar
Units: 0
Description
Required of all third-year physics majors. Does not count in units required for minor.

PHYS 398 Junior Seminar
Units: .5
Description
Required of all third-year physics majors. Does not count in units required for minor.
Prerequisites
PHYS 397

PHYS 406 Summer Undergraduate Research
Units: 0
Description
Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.
Prerequisites
Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor

PHYS 479 Special Topics
Units: .5-1
Description
Topics include particle and nuclear physics, solid state, modern optics, relativity, field theory.
Prerequisites
Permission of department.

PHYS 497 Senior Seminar
Units: 0
Description
Required of all senior physics majors. Does not count in units required for minor.

PHYS 498 Senior Seminar
Units: .5
Description
Required of all senior physics majors. Does not count in units required for minor.
Prerequisites
PHYS 497