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.

NOTE: This page contains an unofficial list of requirements for the Physics major, Engineering Physics major, and Physics minor, effective Fall 2019.  See the 2018-2019 Catalog for descriptions of current Physics major and minor requirements.  

Physics, B.S.

Option 1. Professional Track

  • PHYS 160 Einstein and Heisenberg: Physics of the Fast and the Small
  • PHYS 161 Physics I
  • PHYS 162 Physics II
  • PHYS 200 Electronics
  • PHYS 263 Physics III: Quantum Physics
  • PHYS 264 Physics III: Quantum Physics Lab    
  • PHYS 300 Computational Mechanics
  • PHYS 410 Advanced Laboratory (minimum of 2 credits)
  • PHYS 440 Quantum Mechanics
  • 4 credits from PHYS 420, PHYS 490
  • PHYS 391 Seminar I
  • PHYS 392 Seminar II
  • 4 additional PHYS credits at the 300 or 400 level, not including PHYS 397 or 399

Option 2. Interdisciplinary Track

  • PHYS 160 Einstein and Heisenberg: Physics of the Fast and the Small
  • PHYS 161 Physics I
  • PHYS 162 Physics II
  • PHYS 200 Electronics
  • PHYS 263 Physics III: Quantum Physics
  • PHYS 264 Physics III: Quantum Physics Lab    
  • PHYS 300 Computational Mechanics
  • PHYS 410 Advanced Laboratory (minimum of 2 credits)
  • PHYS 391 Seminar I
  • PHYS 392 Seminar II
  • 6 additional PHYS credits at the 300 or 400 level, not including PHYS 397 or PHYS 399
  • 2nd major or minor in an approved discipline

Required support courses for the Physics major

  • CSCE 160 Intro to Computer Programming
  • ENGR 120 Engineering Calculations
  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • MATH 152 Calculus II
  • MATH 253 Calculus III
  • MATH 300 Linear Algebra or MATH 255 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations

 

Engineering Physics, B.S.

The Engineering Physics major is designed for students who are participating in NCC's dual-degree engineering program.  Because most students in the dual-degree engineering program will spend three years at NCC followed by two years at a partnering institution, the Engineering Physics major is designed to be completed in three years at NCC.

Course requirements

  • PHYS 160 Einstein and Heisenberg: Physics of the Fast and the Small
  • PHYS 161 Physics I
  • PHYS 162 Physics II
  • PHYS 200 Electronics
  • PHYS 211 Engineering Statics
  • PHYS 251 Mechanics of Materials
  • PHYS 263 Physics III: Quantum Physics
  • PHYS 264 Physics III: Quantum Physics Lab    
  • PHYS 300 Computational Mechanics
  • PHYS 391 Seminar I
  • PHYS 392 Seminar II
  • Completion of a 2nd major in an engineering discipline

Required Support Courses for the Engineering Physics major

  • ENGR 110 Engineering Design
  • ENGR 120 Engineering Calculations
  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • MATH 152 Calculus II
  • MATH 253 Calculus III
  • MATH 300 Linear Algebra
  • MATH 315 Differential Equations
  • CSCE 160 Intro to Computer Programming
  • CHEM 121 Chemistry I
  • CHEM 122 Chemistry II

 

Physics Minor

Introductory Classical Physics (8 credit hrs)

  • PHYS 161 Physics I and PHYS 162 Physics II

or

  • PHYS 131 Physics I (non-calculus) and PHYS 132 Physics II (non-calculus)

Introductory Quantum Physics (4 credit hrs)

  • PHYS 263 Physics III: Quantum Physics or CHEM 345 Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy

Experimental and Advanced Physics (8 credit hrs)

  • One from: PHYS 200, PHYS 264
  • Four credit hours from: PHYS 300, PHYS 310, PHYS 320, PHYS 340, PHYS 341, PHYS 410, PHYS 420, PHYS 440, or PHYS 490
  • The complement of the required 8 credit hours, if needed, can be taken from either of the above set of courses. 

Required support courses for the Physics minor

  • CSCE 160 Intro to Computer Programming
  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • MATH 152 Calculus II
  • MATH 253 Calculus III

    NOTE: This page contains all of the regular course descriptions for Physics, effective Fall 2019.  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.

    See the 2018-2019 Catalog for descriptions of current courses.  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, 2019-2020 catalog (unofficial)

    PHYS 105 Introductory Musical Acoustics (4) 
    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.  Prerequisites:  High school algebra 2, ability to read music.

    PHYS 110 Astronomy (4)
    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 includes observational techniques and physical principles.  Prerequisite:  Precalculus (algebra and trigonometry) competence.

    PHYS 131 Physics I (non-calculus) (4)
    Kinematics, Newton’s Laws, conservation laws, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics. Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 131 and PHYS 161.  Laboratory required. Prerequisite:  Precalculus (algebra and trigonometry) competence.

    PHYS 132 Physics II (non-calculus) (4)
    Oscillations, waves, sound, electricity and magnetism, and optics.  Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 132 and PHYS 162. Laboratory required.  Prerequisite: PHYS 131, precalculus (algebra and trigonometry) competence.

    PHYS 160 Einstein and Heisenberg:  Physics of the Fast and the Small (2)
    Introduction to the special theory of relativity:  Galilean relativity, spacetime diagrams, Lorentz transformations, relativistic collisions and conservation of four-momentum.  Introduction to the principles of quantum physics, Heisenberg's matrix mechanics, Pauli spin matrices.  Prerequisite:  Precalculus (algebra and trigonometry) competence.

    PHYS 161 Physics I: Mechanics and Heat (4)
    Newton’s Laws of motion, energy conservation, rotational motion, thermodynamics.  Laboratory includes experimental physics and an introduction to computational modeling.  Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 131 and PHYS 161.  Prerequisites:  CSCE 160; completion of or concurrent registration in MATH 151.

    PHYS 162 Physics II: Electromagnetism, Waves, and Optics (4)
    Oscillations, waves, electricity, magnetism, optics.  Laboratory includes experimental physics and computational modeling.  Credit may be earned for only one of PHYS 132 and PHYS 162.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 161, MATH 151, CSCE 160.

    PHYS 200 Electronic Instrumentation (4)
    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.  Prerequisites: MATH 151; completion of or concurrent enrollment in PHYS 132 or PHYS 162.

    PHYS 211 Engineering Statics (4)
    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.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 161, MATH 152, completion of or concurrent enrollment in MATH 253.

    PHYS 251 Mechanics of Materials (4)
    Analysis of stress and deformation of materials. Applications to the design of machine and structural elements subjected to static, dynamic and repeated loads.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 211, MATH 152.

    PHYS 263 Physics III: Quantum Physics (4)
    An introduction to quantum physics.  Quantum phenomena, the Schrödinger equation, analysis of one-dimensional potentials, the hydrogen atom and the electronic structure of multi-electron atoms, spin-orbit coupling.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 162, completion of or concurrent registration in MATH 253.

    PHYS 264 Experimental Quantum Physics (2)
    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.  Laboratory.  Prerequisites:  Completion of or concurrent registration in PHYS 263.

    PHYS 300 Computational Mechanics (4)
    Newton’s Laws, projectile and charged particle kinematics, conservation laws and oscillations. Advanced methods in mechanics.  Mathematical methods introduced as needed.  Laboratory focuses on computation and modeling.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 162, MATH 253, CSCE 160.

    PHYS 310 Data Acquisition with LabVIEW (2)
    Computer-assisted measurement and automation of experiments using the LabVIEW graphical programming platform.  Hands-on experience through laboratory exercises and projects.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 200, MATH 151, CSCE 160.

    PHYS 320 Physics of Solids (2) 
    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.  Prerequisites:  MATH 151, either PHYS 263 or CHEM 345.

    PHYS 340 Thermal Physics I (2) 
    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.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 132 or PHYS 162, MATH 151, either CHEM 122 or CHEM 125.

    PHYS 341 Thermal Physics II (2) 
    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.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 263 or CHM 345; PHYS 340 or CHEM 340.

    PHYS 391 Seminar I (1)
    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.  Same as CHEM 391.  Prerequisite: 16 PHYS credits.

    PHYS 392 Seminar II (1)  
    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.  Same as CHEM 392.  Prerequisite: 16 PHYS credits.

    PHYS 397 Internship (1-16)
    Instructor consent required.

    PHYS 399 Research (1-16)
    Individual laboratory investigation of a current problem in physics or a closely related field.  Prerequisite:  Instructor consent.

    PHYS 410 Advanced Experimental Physics (2) 
    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.  May be repeated for credit with new content.  Laboratory required.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 200, PHYS 263, PHYS 264.

    PHYS 420 Electromagnetic Theory (4) 
    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.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 162, MATH 253.

    PHYS 440 Quantum Mechanics (4)
    The physical interpretation and mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics.  Schrödinger equation, one-dimensional and three-dimensional potentials, angular momentum, the hydrogen atom, operator methods, matrix mechanics, Dirac notation and approximation methods.  Prerequisites:  PHYS 263 or CHEM 345; MATH 253; MATH 300.

    PHYS 490 Topics (2-4)
    Advanced topics in physics, such as biophysics, astrophysics and cosmology, particles and nuclei, general relativity, advanced mechanics.  Prerequisites vary by topic. 

    Paul Bloom

    Associate Professor of Physics
    Physics
    +1 630 637 5196
    David Horner

    Harold and Eva White Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts; Professor of Chemistry and Physics
    Physics
    +1 630 637 5192
    Ruth Van De Water
    Ruth Van De Water

    Visiting Associate Professor of Physics
    Physics
    +1 630 637 5178
    Robert Potter
    Robert Potter

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

    President; Professor of Physics
    Office of the President
    +1 630 637 5454

    Faculty Emeriti

    Mary Yueh Ping Liaw
    Professor of Physics Emerita
    myliaw@noctrl.edu

    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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