Department website: http://www.odu.edu/physics
Sebastian Kuhn, Chair
Perry Nerem, Chief Departmental Advisor
Stephen Bueltmann, Associate Departmental Advisor
The Department of Physics offers the following majors: physics, physics-professional, secondary physics education (6-12), and astrophysics. In addition, dual degrees with physics and electrical engineering and physics with the Master of Business Administration are offered.
An important feature of all majors is the Senior Thesis, which is based on individual research done under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The Senior Thesis is a capstone experience that gives a student the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom to real-life research problems in physics. This research can be done either in on-campus laboratories and facilities or at other scientific institutions in the region where departmental faculty members perform research, such as the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (including the Applied Research Center) or the Langley Research Center of NASA. On completion of the project, the student must prepare a written final report and make an oral presentation of the results to the department. The senior thesis can be completed in one semester, by taking PHYS 499W, or in two semesters, by taking the PHYS 489W & PHYS 490W sequence.
Advanced placement credit is awarded to students who earn qualifying scores on AP and IB subject examinations. See the equivalency charts on the Office of Undergraduate Admissions website at https://www.odu.edu/admission/undergraduate/credit.
Advanced placement credit for courses other than PHYS 111N-PHYS 112N and PHYS 231N-PHYS 232N may be received on the basis of examinations administered by the Department of Physics. Permission to take such an examination must be obtained from the chief departmental advisor. Students may also refer to the Policy on Prior Learning Assessment Credit Options at the Undergraduate Level found in this Catalog.
Clifford L. and Lillian R. Adams Scholarship
The Department of Physics selects one or more students each year to receive the Clifford L. and Lillian R. Adams Scholarship. The recipient must be a declared physics major and may be an entering freshman, a transfer student, or a continuing student. Selection is based on a student's academic record, relevant test scores, and recommendations. The award is renewable.
Bachelor of Science Programs
A one-semester course covering the important topics of modern astrophysics. The elementary physical basis of stellar structure and evolution is derived from first principles. Theoretical and observational details of white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes are developed. Elements of Big Bang cosmology are also presented.
Observational techniques in astronomy with emphasis on constellation identification, celestial movements, and telescopic observation. Individualized night observations are required.
Introduction to special and general relativity and cosmology. The course covers the current understanding of the structure and evolution of the Universe. The most important unsolved cosmological problems will be discussed, as well as current efforts/theories that may lead to the solution. Special and general relativity, Einstein's field equations, Friedmann-Lemaitre-Robertson-Walker metric, Friedmann’s equations, Schwarzschild solution and black holes, Big Bang, cosmic microwave background radiation, dark matter and dark energy are covered.
In-depth study of a selected topic in astrophysics at the advanced undergraduate level. May include a laboratory or computational component.
An introductory descriptive course which develops and illustrates the concepts of physics in terms of phenomena encountered in daily life. Topics include mechanics, electricity and magnetism. (offered fall, summer)
An introductory descriptive course which develops and illustrates the concepts of physics in terms of phenomena encountered in daily life. Topics include sound, light, fluids and heat. (offered spring)
A study of the physical principles and scientific investigation of objects in our solar system. Emphasis on how we acquire knowledge of celestial objects to develop models of our universe.
Emphasizes the study of stars, star systems, cosmology and relativity. Emphasis on how we acquire knowledge of celestial objects to develop models of our universe.
An introductory laboratory course in astronomy dealing with experiments about the laws of nature that apply to objects in our solar system.
Emphasizes mechanics, wave motion and heat and will also cover the needed elements of trigonometry and vectors. Students receiving credit for PHYS 111N cannot receive credit for PHYS 102N either simultaneously or subsequently. (offered fall, spring, summer)
Emphasizes electricity, light, and introduction to modern physics. (offered fall, spring, summer)
Available for pass/fail grading only. An introductory laboratory covering experiments from mechanics, wave motion, heat and sound.
Available for pass/fail grading only. An introductory laboratory covering experiments from electricity, magnetism, and optics.
This seminar will provide students with a broad introduction to the cutting edge of physics research and its applications in diverse areas of contemporary physics. Recommended for incoming students interested in physics and the natural sciences.
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 103N.
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 104N.
Quantum mechanics has had an enormous impact on society since its discovery nearly a century ago and has been instrumental in developing technology such as transistors and lasers. This course will explore the potential benefits of emerging quantum technologies, how they will impact present and future society, and the technical challenges posed in implementing them. Students will develop a conceptual understanding of these technologies and their fundamental underlying principles of superposition, interference, and entanglement. Topics include quantum computing, quantum communications, and quantum sensing. These ideas will be explored quantitatively using basic algebra. It is strongly recommended that students have passed a college-level math class.
Student participation in a supervised, undergraduate research experience for which credit will not apply to the degree. Experience must be related to the student's major, minor or career area of interest.
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 231N. This course also includes a Recitation Section for more in-depth discussion of advanced problems.
Open only to students in the Honors College. A special honors version of PHYS 232N, including a recitation section for discussion of advanced problems.
A general introduction to physics in which the principles of classical and modern physics are applied to the solution of physical problems. The reasoning through which solutions are obtained is stressed. Topics include mechanics, fluids, and thermodynamics. This course is designed for majors in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computational sciences. Students receiving credit for PHYS 231N and PHYS 232N cannot simultaneously or subsequently receive credit for PHYS 101N and PHYS 102N or PHYS 111N and PHYS 112N. (offered fall, spring, summer) Pre- or
A general introduction to physics in which the principles of classical and modern physics are applied to the solution of physical problems. The reasoning through which solutions are obtained is stressed. This course is designed for majors in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and computational sciences. Topics include electricity and magnetism, and optics. Students receiving credit for PHYS 231N and PHYS 232N cannot simultaneously or subsequently receive credit for PHYS 101N and PHYS 102N or PHYS 111N and PHYS 112N. (offered fall, spring, summer)
This calculus-based course is the required introductory course for Physics majors. In addition to the physics curriculum of PHYS 231N, this course has a recitation section for advanced problems and additional mathematical preparation for advanced courses in physics.
This calculus-based course is the required introductory course for Physics majors. In addition to the physics curriculum of PHYS 232N, this course has a recitation section for advanced problems and additional mathematical preparation for advanced courses in physics.
This course offers students at the Freshman and Sophomore levels their first opportunity to work one-on-one with a research mentor to acquire and develop skills in research techniques, information literacy, research planning, proposal preparation and report writing. Research experiences may include but are not limited to hands-on instrument control to collect and analyze data, including graphical, statistical and error analysis of their data. Students will also be instructed on accepted methods for dissemination of data, including written, oral and poster presentation, as well as procedures for research proposal preparation and submission. Students will be required to deliver to their peers and department faculty at the end of semester an oral and written presentation of their research, as well as a poster presentation at an annual department or university event including the ODU Undergraduate Research Symposium.
A laboratory-oriented course designed to provide students with a broad introduction to instrumentation and techniques used in modern physics laboratories. Topics to be covered include: basic electronics with an introduction to diode, transistor and op-amp circuitry, and an introduction to physical computing using LabView and Arduino micro controllers.
Physicists should be able to estimate the order-of-magnitude of anything. How many atoms of Julius Caesar do you eat every day? How much waste does a nuclear power plant generate? Will develop concepts, relations and numbers useful for estimation. Will cover little new material, emphasizing already acquired knowledge. Will help students apply physics to real-life questions and understand which physical effects are appropriate on which scales. Seminar course.
Explores the relationship between light as stimulus and color perceived by us. Develops underlying concept of technology of art and applied art. Describes basis for optical phenomena involved in many facets of daily life. Topics include: the interaction of light and the visual perception it produces; the basic concept of spectra; wave, ray, and quantum optics; polarized light; photography; paintings; pigments; rainbows and mirages; color theory systems; formation of images; optical instruments. There is no physics prerequisite for this course.
Fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics. Topics include kinematics, dynamics, energy and momentum, central forces and planetary motion, and resonance phenomena. (Offered Spring)
Introduction to the wave nature of matter, with applications in materials science, atomic, and nuclear physics. Introduction to relativity, including applications in mechanics and electrodynamics. (Offered Fall)
An analysis of those concepts of geometrical physical optics needed for the understanding of laser resonators, optical propagation, and radiation detection. A study of laser diodes, molecular, neutral and ion gas lasers, tuneable dye and excimer lasers. Laser applications in medicine, communications, information processing, holography, pollution detection, and material testing and fabrication are stressed.
This course will provide a strong foundation in the mathematical methods and applications necessary for undergraduate study of physics beyond the introductory level. The course contains a mandatory recitation section. (Offered Fall)
May be repeated for credit. Available for pass/fail grading only. Student participation for credit based on the academic relevance of the work experience, criteria, and evaluative procedures as formally determined by the department and Career Development Services prior to the semester in which the work experience is to take place.
Available for pass/fail grading only. Academic requirements will be established by the department and will vary with the amount of credit desired. Allows students to gain short duration career-related experience.
This course offers students at the Sophomore and Junior levels an opportunity to work one-on-one with a research mentor on a self-designed research project of mutual interest, and typically within the research field of their mentor. The student will demonstrate their knowledge of the research skills covered in PHYS 297 by formulating their own research plan and then collecting and analyzing their data. Students will also be instructed in research publication skills as well as conference standard presentation techniques. Students will be required to attend at least two conferences, within and outside the university.
A course in astronomy dealing with stars and stellar systems. Topics will include observational astronomy, the electromagnetic spectrum, relativity, stellar and galactic structures, cosmology, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
The hydrogen atom, radiative transitions, two-electron systems, many-electron atoms, interaction with external fields, theory of atomic spectra.
Experiments in classical and modern physics, designed to develop skills in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of experimental data. (Offered Spring)
An introduction to the structure of the atomic nucleus, natural and artificial radioactivity, nuclear decay processes and stability of nuclei, nuclear reactions, properties of nuclear forces, and nuclear models. Also, particle phenomenology, experimental techniques and the standard model. Topics include the spectra of leptons, mesons, and baryons; strong, weak, and electromagnetic interactions.
Introduction to solid state physics and materials science, with emphasis placed on the applications of each topic to experimental and analytical techniques. Topics include crystallography, thermal and vibrational properties of crystals and semiconductors, metals and the band theory of solids, superconductivity and the magnetic properties of materials.
Fundamentals of relativistic particle dynamics including particle acceleration; weak and strong focusing; linear beam optics and particle transfer matrices; linear and non-linear synchrotron motion; introduction to the statistical descriptions of particle beams; and radiation production by accelerated relativistic particles. Examples relevant to betatrons, cyclotrons, synchrotrons, and linear accelerators will be given.
Introduction of computational methods and visualization techniques for problem solving in physics.
A study of the classical theory and phenomena of electricity and magnetism. Topics include the calculation of electric and magnetic fields, magnetic and dielectric properties of matter, and an introduction to Maxwell's equations. The course contains a mandatory recitation section.
A mathematical study of the concepts of mechanics. Vector calculus methods are used. Topics include mechanics of a system of particles, Lagrangian mechanics, Hamilton's canonical equations, and motion of a rigid body.
Introduction to the physical and mathematical structure of quantum theory, including the historical and experimental origins of the subject. The subject matter includes techniques for solving the Schrodinger equation in one, two, and three dimensions. Both coordinate and momentum space representations are used. The harmonic oscillator and the Hydrogen atom receive particular attention. The course contains a mandatory recitation section.
A course in electrodynamics developed from Maxwell's Equations. Topics include Maxwell's Equations, Conservation Laws, Electromagnetic Waves, Potentials and Fields, Radiation, and the interplay of electrodynamics and special relativity. The course contains a mandatory recitation section.
A study of the fundamental concepts of thermodynamics, kinetic theory, and statistical mechanics. Topics include the thermodynamics of simple systems, kinetic theory of gases, statistical mechanics of gases and an introduction to quantum statistics.
This course follows directly from PHYS 452. It includes a more detailed study of simple systems, an introduction to abstract quantum mechanics and Dirac notation, and applications to operator methods. Particular attention is paid to electron spin, angular momentum theory, operator treatment of the harmonic oscillator, the Pauli exclusion principle, perturbation theory, and scattering. The course contains a mandatory recitation section.
Explores the historical development of accelerators and their past and present applications. Principles of acceleration, including the physics of linear accelerators, synchrotrons, and storage rings. Magnet design; machine lattice design and particle beam optics. Longitudinal and transverse beam dynamics, including synchrotron and betatron particle motion. Special topics will be reviewed, including synchrotron radiation, injection techniques, and collective effects and beam instabilities.
This course will review the style and scope of problems likely to be found on the Physics Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Emphasis is on quick solving of problems based on foundational knowledge and intuition. This course is particularly intended for students preparing to apply for graduate school, but may be of interest to all students.
Emphasizes the tools and techniques used to solve scientific problems. Topics include use and design of experiments, use of statistics to interpret experimental results, mathematical modeling of scientific phenomena, and oral and written presentation of scientific results. Students will perform four independent inquiries, combining skills from mathematics and science to solve research problems. Required for Physics teaching licensure track; not available as upper-division elective in content area. This is a writing intensive course.
In-depth study of a selected topic in physics at the advanced undergraduate level. May include a laboratory or computational component.
These courses afford the student an opportunity to pursue individual study and research.
Each student will undertake a research experience under the supervision of a department faculty member. The experience can be of an experimental, theoretical, or calculational type. A final oral and written report are required. The research may be completed on campus or at one of the department affiliated research organizations. This is a writing intensive course.(offered fall, spring, summer)