Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics
College of Arts & Sciences

Physics

Questions?

Paul Bloom
630-637-5196
pcbloom@noctrl.edu

Physics is the study and application of the laws of nature at their most fundamental level. By majoring in physics, you will gain excellent preparation for graduate school, positions in industry, teaching at the secondary education level, or engineering. We offer degree tracks in

  • physics
  • engineering physics 

Our comprehensive program includes laboratory training in electrical and optical measurements, analog and digital electronics, and advanced experimental physics. Many physics majors gain valuable work experience through an internship at a nearby corporate or government research laboratory.

Physics, Professional Track, B.S.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Chemistry and Physics.

Major Requirements

Electives

One of the following:
300- or 400-level Physics

Four additional credit hours of Physics at the 300- or 400-level, not including PHYS 395 or internships.

Required Support Courses

One of the following:

   

Physics, Interdisciplinary Track, B.S.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Chemistry and Physics.

Major Requirements

Electives

Six additional credit hours in Physics at the 300- or 400-level, not including PHYS 395 or internships.

Second Major or Minor

Completion of a second major or minor in a discpline, pre-approved by the department.

Required Support Courses

One of the following:

  

Engineering Physics, B.S.

The Engineering Physics major is designed for students who are participating in our dual-degree engineering program. Because many students in the dual-degree engineering program will typically spend three years at North Central College followed by two years at a partnering institution, the Engineering Physics major is designed to be completed in approximately three years at North Central College.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Chemistry and Physics.

Major Requirements

Required Support Courses

Second Major

Completion of a second major in an engineering discipline at a partnering institution.

  

Physics Minor

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Chemistry and Physics.

Minor Requirements

A minimum of 36 credit hours, including:

Introductory Classical Physics

One of the following Physics sequences:

Introductory Quantum Physics

One of the following:

Experimental and Advanced Physics

Eight credit hours to include:

One of the following:
At least one of the following:
Note:

PHYS 264 is a two credit course. If a student elects to take PHYS 264, another course must be taken from the options above.

Required Support Courses

NOTE: This page contains all of the regular course descriptions for Physics, effective Fall 2021.  Academic credit for each course is noted in parenthesis after the course title. Prerequisites (if any) are noted following each course description. Not all courses are offered every year.

Check Merlin, our searchable course schedule, to see which courses are being offered in upcoming terms.

4-year course plan for Physics B.S. students 

Physics courses, 2021-2022 catalog

PHYS 105 - Introductory Musical Acoustics

4.00 credit hours - Physics of sound, musical instruments and musical recordings. Production and propagation of sound waves, physical principles underlying pitch and timbre of musical instruments and the human voice, digital audio. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite(s): High School Algebra II and ability to read music.
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Sciences.
iCon(s): Being Human.

 

PHYS 110 - Astronomy

4.00 credit hours - Celestial phenomena, the sun and solar system and the observable universe with emphasis on astronomy as a scientific activity relevant to the perception and comprehension of our world. Laboratory required, includes observational techniques and physical principles relevant to astronomy and astrophysics.

Prerequisite(s): Precalculus (Algebra & Trigonometry) competence.
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Sciences.
iCon(s): Experiencing Place.

 

PHYS 131 - Physics I (Non-Calculus)

4.00 credit hours - Kinematics, Newton’s Laws, conservation laws, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. Laboratory required. Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 131 and PHYS 161.

Prerequisite(s): Precalculus (Algebra & Trigonometry) competence.

 

PHYS 132 - Physics II (Non-Calculus)

4.00 credit hours - Oscillations, waves, sound, electricity and magnetism, and optics. Laboratory required. Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 132 and PHYS 162.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 131 and Precalculus (Algebra & Trigonometry) competence.

 

PHYS 160 - Einstein and Heisenberg: Physics of the Fast and the Small

2.00 credit hours - Introduction to the special theory of relativity: Galilean relativity, space-time diagrams, Lorentz transformations, relativistic collisions and conservation of four-momentum. Introduction to the principles of quantum physics, Heisenberg’s matrix mechanics, Pauli’s spin matrices.

Prerequisite(s): Precalculus (Algebra & Trigonometry) competence.

 

PHYS 161 - Physics I: Mechanics and Heat

4.00 credit hours - Newton’s Laws of motion, energy conservation, rotational motion, thermodynamics. Laboratory required, includes experimental physics and an introduction to computational modeling. Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 131 and PHYS 161.

Prerequisite(s): CSCE 160MATH 151 or concurrent enrollment.
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): Sciences.

 

PHYS 162 - Physics II: Electromagnetism, Waves and Optics

4.00 credit hours - Oscillations, waves, electricity, magnetism, optics. Laboratory required, includes experimental physics and computational modeling. Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 132 and PHYS 162.

Prerequisite(s): CSCE 160MATH 151 and PHYS 161.

 

PHYS 200 - Electronic Instrumentation for Scientists

4.00 credit hours - Survey of electronics with focus on application to scientific instrumentation. Topics include digital principles, combinational and sequential logic, digital applications, DC and AC circuits, discrete semiconductors, operational amplifiers. Focus is on applied learning in the laboratory. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 151PHYS 132 or PHYS 162 or concurrent enrollment.

 

PHYS 211 - Engineering Statics

4.00 credit hours - Classical mechanics with application to engineering problems. Topics include equivalent systems of forces, centroids, analysis of trusses and frames, machines and forces due to friction, virtual work, hydrostatic pressure.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 161 and MATH 152MATH 253 or concurrent enrollment.

 

PHYS 251 - Mechanics of Materials

4.00 credit hours - Analysis of stress and deformation of materials. Applications to the design of machine and structural elements subjected to static, dynamic and repeated loads.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 211 and MATH 152.

 

PHYS 263 - Physics III: Quantum Physics

4.00 credit hours - An introduction to quantum physics. Quantum phenomena, the Schrodinger equation, analysis of one-dimensional potentials, the hydrogen atom and the electronic structure of multi-electron atoms, spin-orbit coupling.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 162MATH 253 or concurrent enrollment.

 

PHYS 264 - Experimental Quantum Physics

2.00 credit hours - An exploration of the experimental foundations of quantum physics. Selected experiments from the photoelectric effect, electron impact spectroscopy, Bragg scattering and x-ray diffraction, single photon two-slit experiment, molecular spectroscopy, muon decay and others.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 263 or concurrent enrollment.

 

PHYS 300 - Computational Mechanics

4.00 credit hours - Newton’s Laws, projectile and charged particle kinematics, conservation laws and oscillations. Advanced methods in mechanics. Mathematical methods introduced as needed. Laboratory required, focuses on computation and modeling.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 162 and MATH 253.

 

PHYS 310 - Data Acquisition with LabVIEW

2.00 credit hours - Computer-assisted measurement and automation of experiments using the LabVIEW graphical programming platform. Hands-on experience through laboratory exercises and projects. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite(s): ELEC 150 or PHYS 200.

 

PHYS 320 - Physics of Solids

2.00 credit hours - Properties of crystalline solids. Crystal structure, reciprocal lattice, x-ray diffraction, electrical conduction, band theory, semiconductors and semiconductor devices. Other topics may include thermal properties, magnetic properties of solids.

Prerequisite(s): MATH 151PHYS 263 or CHEM 345.

 

PHYS 340 - Thermal Physics I

2.00 credit hours - Interrelationships among temperature, energy, entropy, and other properties of a physical system, examined at the macroscopic level using the tools of thermodynamics. Topics covered include equations of state, the laws of thermodynamics, energy, enthalpy, entropy, Gibbs energy, Maxwell relations, phase equilibrium. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 132 or PHYS 162MATH 151CHEM 122 or CHEM 125.

 

PHYS 341 - Thermal Physics II

2.00 credit hours - Interrelationships among temperature, energy, entropy and other properties of matter, examined at the microscopic level using the tools of statistical mechanics. Topics include macrostates and microstates, entropy, Boltzmann and quantum distribution functions; selected applications from paramagnetism, Einstein solids, blackbody radiation and others.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 263 or CHEM 345PHYS 340 or CHEM 340.

 

PHYS 391 - Seminar I

1.00 credit hours - Professional development topics such as ethics, job seeking skills and safety. Students, faculty and guest presenters discuss research results in the format of a scientific meeting.

Prerequisite(s): 16 credit hours in Physics.

 

PHYS 392 - Seminar II

1.00 credit hours - Students learn to search the scientific literature, read primary literature and orally present a journal article. Students, faculty and guest presenters discuss research results in the format of a scientific meeting.

Prerequisite(s): 16 credit hours in Physics.

 

PHYS 395 - Research

1.00-16.00 credit hours - Individual laboratory investigation of a current problem in physics or a closely related field.

 

PHYS 410 - Advanced Experimental Physics

2.00 credit hours - An exploration of advanced experimental techniques and concepts in physics. Experiments selected from optical spectroscopy, x-ray spectroscopy, magnetic resonance, vacuum techniques, solid-state physics, laser physics, nuclear physics. Laboratory required.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 200PHYS 263 and PHYS 264.

 

PHYS 420 - Electromagnetic Theory

4.00 credit hours - The theory of electromagnetism, including electrostatics, magnetostatics and electrodynamics. May include applications to electromagnetic waves, guided waves and transmission lines, plasmas, radiation theory and relativistic electrodynamics.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 162 and MATH 253.

 

PHYS 440 - Quantum Mechanics

4.00 credit hours - The physical interpretation and mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger equation, one-dimensional and three-dimensional potentials, angular momentum, the hydrogen atom, operator methods, matrix mechanics, Dirac notation and approximation methods.

Prerequisite(s): PHYS 263 or CHEM 345MATH 253 and MATH 300.

 

PHYS 490 - Topics

2.00-4.00 credit hours - Advanced topics in physics, such as biophysics, astrophysics and cosmology, particles and nuclei, general relativity, advanced mechanics.

Prerequisite(s): Varies by topic.

Paul Bloom

Associate Professor of Physics
Physics
+1 630 637 5196
Susan Kempinger

Assistant Professor of Physics
Physics
+1 630 637 5192
Elena Gamaliy-Snezhko
Elena Gamaliy-Snezhko

Physics Laboratory Manager and Instructional Support; Adjunct Associate Professor of Physics
Physics
+1 630 637 5179
Troy Hammond

President and Professor of Physics
Office of the President
+1 630 637 5454
Robert Potter
Robert Potter

Half-time Associate Professor of Physics
Physics
+1 630 637 5170

 

Faculty Emeriti

David Horner

Harold and Eva White Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts
Physics
+1 630 637 5181
Mary Liaw

Professor of Physics Emerita
PHY

Take advantage of some of the many opportunities to enrich your education outside the classroom! Below are some examples; follow the links for more information.

  • Gain "real-world" experience through an Internship

Many physics & engineering students work part-time in the Cooperative Education (Co-Op) Program at Argonne National Laboratory. Co-op students work 15-19 hours per week during the school year and often work full-time during summer and break periods.  

Recent physics students have studied at the University of Glasgow and Dundee University in Scotland and Macquarie University in Australia.

  • Get your hands on Research

Physics students can do research with North Central faculty during the academic year and summers, and many physics majors spend fall of their senior year doing research at a national laboratory through the Department of Energy's SULI program.  Students present their research at North Central’s annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research, and many present at the annual Argonne Symposium and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

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