PHYS3113 Thermal Physics and Statistical Mechanics


PHYS2210 and PHYS3021

Course Coordinator: 

Paul Curmi

Course Description : 

Thermal physics and statistical mechanics is concerned with the study of macroscopic and mesoscopic systems.  Both aim to understand the properties of systems and processes that occur in such systems. Statistical mechanics links mesoscopic and macroscopic properties of systems of matter and radiation with the fundamental microscopic physics (classical and quantum mechanics).  It puts the concepts of thermodynamics on a firm foundation of  mechanics.  Its importance in the development of modern physics, from  the  understanding  of stars to the smallest transistor, cannot be overestimated.  Topics to be covered include: Classical thermodynamics. Kinetic theory of gases, ideal gas, van der Waals gas. First law of thermodynamics.  Heat engines, Carnot cycle, Carnotís theorem.  Classical entropy, second law of thermodynamics. Third law of thermodynamics. Postulate approach to classical thermodynamics, fundamental 1∞ equation and its consequences. Alternative formulations, thermodynamic potentials, Legendre transforms, Maxwellís relations. Phase transitions stability criteria, Clausius-Clapeyron equation, Gibbs phase rule. Thermodynamic probability, Boltzmann entropy. Boltzmann distribution, Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions. Partition function. Micro-canonical, canonical and grand canonical ensembles. Heat capacity of diatomics, Einstein and Debye models, phonons. Paramagnetism. Blackbody radiation. Bose-Einstein condensation, liquid helium. Fermi energy, free electrons and the Fermi gas.

Semester(s) Offered: 

Semester 1


PHYS2111 or PHYS2110

Additional Information: 

Students will complete three laboratory experiments over the semester.

Photo of Paul Curmi

Paul Curmi

Photo of Yvonne Wong
Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow

Yvonne Wong

Photo of Oleg Sushkov
ARC Australian Professorial Fellow

Oleg Sushkov