Luiz A. Manzoni, chair
Thelma S. Berquó
Mark W. Gealy, scholar in residence
The physics department provides learning experiences that prepare students to achieve the following outcomes:
- demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles governing the behavior of physical systems
- apply scientific methodology to identify and solve appropriate physical problems
- demonstrate competence in experimentation
- effectively communicate knowledge of physics orally and in writing
- connect the knowledge and skills gained in the study of physics to holistic concerns of meaningful citizenship, employment and personal development
Majors Offered by the Physics Department
Concordia’s Physics department offers three different majors, all with a significant degree of flexibility in the choice of advanced courses, intended to serve students with a wide range of interests.
The traditional Physics Major is recommended for those students that intend to go to graduate school in physics or a closely related discipline after college. Although there is a fair amount of flexibility, since one can choose the four advanced physics courses, the table below shows the most recommended courses for those aiming at graduate school in physics, with an emphasis in foundational knowledge.
The Applied Physics Major is recommended for those students aiming to go into the workforce after graduation, as well as those who intend to go to grad school in Engineering. Again, there is a high degree of flexibility in the choice of advanced courses and the emphasis is on a practical approach.
The Physics Major with Astrophysics Emphasis is addressed to the students who have an interest in the large-scale mysteries of the universe. It can serve both those that intend to go to graduate school and those who want to go into the workforce, depending on the choice of advanced courses and electives.
The Physics department also offers a Physics Minor, whose first four semesters are exactly the same as for the Physics Major. After those first four semesters, to obtain the minor it is necessary to take one 4-credit advanced physics course (300 level or above), to choose from the department’s offerings.
The Advanced physics courses regularly offered by the department are:
- Classical Mechanics
- Statistical Physics
- Quantum Mechanics
- Techniques for Experimental Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Introduction to General Relativity
- Senior Seminar (2 credits)
In addition, depending on staff availability and student demand, other elective advanced courses are occasionally offered (examples include Particle Physics, Quantum Computing, Introduction to Nanosciences, Optics, etc.).
Students seeking licensure to teach physics must also fulfill the requirements for a major in education. For additional information about teaching physics, see the chair of physics or the chair of education.
General Science add-on education endorsement: Students majoring in physics and earning a licensure for teaching may complete an add-on option for grades 5-8 licensure.
This course is an introduction to our solar system designed for students in all disciplines. Topics include: light and telescopes, a historical overview of astronomy, a study of the components of the solar system and a discussion of the formation of the solar system. Past, present and future space exploration missions are also covered. Three class periods and one laboratory/observing period each week. Prerequisite: high school algebra and geometry or MATH 110 - Precalculus
This course is an introduction to the universe beyond our solar system designed for students in all disciplines. Topics include: light and telescopes, the appearance of the sky, negotiating star maps, the physical nature of stars and their formations and life cycles, clusters of stars, gas clouds and laboratory/observing period each week. (PHYS 104, ESC 104 - Introductory Astronomy: Solar System is not a prerequisite.) Prerequisite: high school algebra and geometry or MATH 110 - Precalculus
Topics in mechanics and thermal physics are discussed. Techniques general to all areas of physics are developed. Three class periods and one three-hour laboratory each week. Prerequisite: competence in mathematics (algebra and trigonometry) equivalent to concurrent registration in MATH 110 - Precalculus or a good high school background
This is a continuation of PHYS 111 - General College Physics I. Techniques are expanded, and topics in electricity, optics, and modern physics are added. Three class periods and one three-hour laboratory each week.
This course develops problem-solving skills by exploring ideas of 21st century physics. Fundamental physical concepts such as energy, momentum, waves, and electromagnetic forces are introduced and used to gain a basic comprehension of topics such as the quantum mechanics, wave-particle duality of matter and special relativity.
This is an accelerated introduction to mechanics, waves, and thermal physics. Three class periods and one three-hour laboratory each week.
Methods, epistemology, strengths and limitations of scientific inquiry are discussed. Physical concepts underlying sound are introduced, including forces, motion, and the character and perception of waves. Acoustic topics include intensity, pitch, tone quality, temperament; sound generation by voices, stringed, brass, reed and percussion instruments; sound recording and reproduction; room and auditorium acoustics. Three seventy minute lecture/demonstration classes and one two-hour laboratory per week.
This is a continuation of PHYS 128 - Physics for Scientists and Engineers I. Topics include thermal physics, electricity, magnetism and optics. Three class periods and one three-hour laboratory each week.
This is a continuation of PHYS 215. This course is designed for elementary education majors seeking a concentration in science. Topics include vector addition, motion and forces in two dimensions, conservation of energy, conservation of momentum and waves. One 100-minute class period each week.
This course is an introduction to electronics and experimental instrumentation. Topics include using LabVIEW to interface computers with electronic instrumentation for data acquisition and experiment control; RC and RLC circuits; complex impedance, Operational Amplifiers, and a student-designed project using Arduinos.
This course introduces some computational tools used by physicists. The main focus will be on programming techniques to solve realistic physical problems. No programming experience is necessary. Required for all physics majors.
In this course and its acoompanying laboratory, we explore the fundamental knowledge about various types of materials, their usage and properties that are essential in engineering design. The important relationships between internal structure and properties ranging from mechanical, thermal, electrical and magnetic in nature will all be studied.
Newton's laws are applied in specific situations. Topics include forces, fields, non-inertial reference frames, oscillations, collisions, planetary motions, rigid body dynamics, and an introduction to Lagrangian mechanics. Three 70-minute class periods each week.
The fields of fixed and moving charges and their effects on other charges are described. The behavior of fields in conducting, dielectric, and magnetic media, and the propagation of electromagnetic waves are studied. Three class periods each week.
The behavior of matter at macroscopic and microscopic levels is discussed. Techniques of statistical mechanics are used to describe the behavior of ideal gases, heat engines, heat transfer, and magnetic effects. Three class periods each week.
This course is an introduction to geometrical optics, lenses, mirrors, ray tracing, and aberrations, followed by a detailed discussion of physical optics, electromagnetic character of light, reflection, interference, diffraction and lasers. Three class periods each week.
This course and required laboratory develop the theories of Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. These disciplines are applied to models of atoms, nuclei and elementary particles.
A laboratory-intensive exploration of advanced methods in experimentation. Emphasis is on topics in quantum physics: energy spectroscopy of photons and particles, nuclear reactions, and optical spectroscopy. Other areas to be explored are optical diffraction and electromagnetic waves. Two two-hour lecture/laboratory sessions each week.
This course provides a theoretical introduction and an overview of the fundamental applications of solid state physics. It includes theoretical description of crystal and electronic structure, lattice dynamics, and physical properties of materials (metals, semiconductors, dielectrics, magnetic materials and superconductors).
This course is a rigorous introduction to modern astrophysics. Topics include geometry of the celestial sphere, astronomical instrumentation, structure and evolution of stars and galaxies, and modern cosmology.
Courses covering various topics of interest in this particular discipline are offered regularly. Contact department or program chair for more information.
This course is an introduction to Einstein's theory of gravitation, and will focus on physical consequences of the solutions of Einstein's equation for particular geometries. Among the applications to be studies are black holes and gravitational waves. Required for physics majors with a concentration in astrophysics.
One of the great intellectual accomplishments of the modern era, quantum physics presents a radical new picture of the material world. This course covers the principles and techniques of basic quantum mechanics, including the uncertainty principle, Schrödinger's equation, matrix mechanics, and perturbation theory. Three class periods each week.
This course uses the seminar format to assist students to improve their scientific communication skills. Students will learn about the writing and presentation standards in physics, work on a senior thesis paper under the supervision of the instructor, and present the thesis for criticism and discussion. Prerequisites: senior standing and any major in physics.
This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct in-depth study of a particular topic under the supervision of a faculty member. Contact the department or program chair for more information.
This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct research in a specific area of study, completed under the direction of a faculty mentor. Specific expectations of the research experience to be determined by the faculty. Repeatable for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.