The final year adopts the same core physics as BSc Physics, but with modules in imaging and manipulating nanostructures, and self-assembly and self-organisation.
Optional modules will allow you to tailor your study into areas of physics that particularly interest you.
Introduction to Solid State Physics
This module will provide a general introduction to solid state physics. Topics covered include:
- Bonding nature of chemical bonds, thermodynamics of solid formation
- Crystal structures description of crystal structures, k-space, reciprocal lattice, Bragg diffraction, Brillouin zones
- Nearly-free electron model - Bloch's theorem, band gaps from electron Bragg scattering, effective masses
- Band theory Fermi surfaces, qualitative picture of transport, metals, insulators and semiconductors
- Semiconductors - doping, inhomogeneous semiconductors, basic description of pn junction
- Phonons normal modes of ionic lattice, quantization, Debye theory of heat capacities, acoustic and optical phonons
- Optical properties of solids absorption and reflection of light by metals, Brewster angle, dielectric constants, plasma oscillations
- Magnetism- Landau diamagnetism, paramagnetism, exchange interactions, Ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, neutron scattering, dipolar interactions and domain formation, magnetic technology
Atoms, Photons and Fundamental Particles
This module will introduce students to the physics of atoms, nuclei and the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions. The module will also develop the quantum mechanical description of these.
Topics to be covered are:
- Approximation techniques first order perturbation theory, degeneracies, second order perturbation theory, transition rates, time-dependent perturbation theory, Fermi's golden rule
- Particle Physics protons and neutrons, antiparticles, particle accelerators and scattering experiments, conservation laws, neutrinos, leptons, baryons and hadrons, the quark model and the strong interaction, weak interactions, standard model
- Introduction to atomic physics review of simple model of hydrogen atom, Fermi statistics and Pauli principle, aufbau principle, hydrogenic atoms, exchange, fine structure and hyperfine interactions, dipole interaction, selection rules and transition rates
- Lasers optical polarization and photons, optical cavities, population inversions, Bose statistics and stimulated emission, Einstein A and B coefficients
- Nuclear Physics Radioactivity, decay processes, alpha, beta and gamma emission, detectors, stability curves and binding energies, nuclear fission, fusion, liquid drop and shell models.
Imaging and Manipulation at the Nanoscale
The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in the 1980s has led to a revolution in the imaging of surfaces and has provided an enormous stimulus for the development of nanoscience. The operation of a scanning probe microscope relies on the interaction between a local probe and a surface. A family of techniques has been derived from the STM which exploit a range of different forces and other interactions for image formation. The most widely-used of these techniques is atomic force microscopy which, unlike, STM, can be used to image insulating samples. In this module the focus will be on the development of physical models to describe the interaction between a local point-like probe and a surface. The operation of the STM will be considered in detail together with design considerations which are common across all scanning probe microscopes. In the second half of the course, forces between the tip and sample will be considered and methods for measuring these interactions will be discussed. The probe-surface interaction can also be used to modify the surface with a specificity which can result in placement of single atoms and molecules and these patterning processes will be discussed. Throughout the course images from the current research literature will be introduced to inform students of the range of possible applications of this these techniques.
Soft Condensed Matter
The aim of this module will be to give students a basic grounding in key concepts in soft condensed matter physics, with emphasis being placed on the dynamic, structural and kinematic properties of these materials. Key differences and similarities between soft matter, hard matter and liquid systems will be highlighted and discussed throughout the module. Material that will be covered includes:
- Introduction to Soft Matter
- Forces, energies and timescales in soft matter
- Liquids and glasses
- Phase transitions in soft matter (solid-liquid and liquid-liquid demixing)
- Polymeric materials
- Crystallisation in soft systems
- Liquid crystals
- Molecular order in soft systems
- Soft Nanotechnology
You will carry out a project drawn from one of several areas of physics. The project may be experimental or theoretical in nature. Many of the projects reflect the research interests of members of academic staff. You will work in pairs and are expected to produce a plan of work and to identify realistic goals for your project. Each pair has a project supervisor responsible for setting the project.
The Structure of Stars
You will develop your knowledge of the various physical processes occurring in stars of different types. You’ll use this knowledge to build both mathematical models and your qualitative physical understanding of stellar structure and evolution will be enhanced. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Principles of Dynamics
In this module you’ll be introduced to the mathematical language for discussing extreme problems. The formulations of mechanics due to Lagrange and Hamilton will be described and techniques for the solutions of the consequent equations of motion will be discussed. You’ll learn the underlying principles of dynamics and develop techniques for the solution of dynamical problems. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Atmospheric and Planetary Physics
In this module you’ll explore the theoretical aspect of atmospheric physics. Topics will include planetary atmosphere, troposphere, solar radiation and the Energy budget, radiation transfer and Photochemistry among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures per week studying this module.
Introduction to Cosmology
Cosmology is the scientific study of the universe as a whole. The module provides an introduction to modern cosmology, including some of the more recent observational and theoretical developments. No prior knowledge of General Relativity is required. Topics covered include: observed features of the universe, the Cosmological Principle, Newtoniaan and Relativistic cosmology, the Friedmann Models, cosmic expansion, the cosmological constant, evidence for the big bang model, the thermal history of the big bang, the early universe and inflation, the classical cosmological tests, structure formation (brief treatment only).
To develop an understanding of high-energy phenomena in astrophysics and the relative importance of different processes in different situations.
To make models of extreme astrophysical sources and environments basedon physical theory.
To interpret observational data in the light of relevant physical theory.
Functional Medical Imaging
The techniques for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) are explored. The course aims to introduce the brain imaging technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), giving an overview of the physics involved in this technique. The electromagnetic techniques of electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) will then be outlined, and the relative advantages of the techniques described.
This module aims to provide you with the skills necessary to use computational methods in the solution of non-trivial problems in physics and astronomy. You’ll also sharpen your programming skills through a three hour computing class and one hour of lectures per week.
This module introduces you to the physical properties of semiconductors and low-dimensional systems, such as quantum wells, wires and dots. The aim is to explain the physics that underlies optical and transport properties of these structures and and their applications in advanced technologies.
This course is structured in two main parts. The first part focuses on the foundation of quantum mechanics and solid state physics needed to describe a low dimensional system. The module then moves on describing the physical principles of semiconductor junction and devices.
Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics
To introduce the key theoretical ideas of elementary particle physics, such as symmetry and conservation laws, and to build the foundations for a mathematical description of particle properties and interactions.
You’ll extend and develop your knowledge of quantum theory with a particular emphasis on how quantum systems evolve over time. The module will focus on developing the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics as well as introducing important physical models and calculational techniques.
The Structure of Galaxies
This module will develop your current understanding of the various physical processes that dictate the formation, evolution and structure of galaxies. You’ll explore a number of topics including The Milky Way, The Dynamics of Galaxies, Active Galaxies and Galaxy Evolution among others. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures studying this module.
Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos
In this module you will develop your knowledge of classical mechanics of simple linear behaviour to include the behaviour of complex nonlinear dynamics. You’ll learn about the way in which nonlinear deterministic systems can exhibit essentially random behaviour because of sensitivity relating to initial conditions. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Symmetry and Action Principles in Physics
Symmetry is a powerful notion, both in the development of theories of physical phenomena and in the solution of physical models. In this module, the basic aspects of the mathematical language of symmetry will be introduced and applied to a range of physical phenomena, and the principle of least action, introduced in The Principles of Dynamics module, will be further developed.