Physics
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
Electives
One of the following:

PHYS 420  Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS 420  Electromagnetic Theory

PHYS 490  Topics
PHYS 490  Topics
300 or 400level Physics
Four additional credit hours of Physics at the 300 or 400level, not including
Required Support Courses

CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming
CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming

ENGR 120  Engineering Calculations
ENGR 120  Engineering Calculations

MATH 151  Calculus I
MATH 151  Calculus I

MATH 152  Calculus II
MATH 152  Calculus II

MATH 253  Calculus III
MATH 253  Calculus III
One of the following:

MATH 255  Linear Algebra and Differential Equation
MATH 255  Linear Algebra and Differential Equation

MATH 300  Linear Algebra
MATH 300  Linear Algebra
Physics, Interdisciplinary Track, B.S.
For additional programs and courses in this department, see
Electives
Six additional credit hours in Physics at the 300 or 400level, not including
Second Major or Minor
Completion of a second major or minor in a discpline, preapproved by the department.
Required Support Courses

CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming
CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming

ENGR 120  Engineering Calculations
ENGR 120  Engineering Calculations

MATH 151  Calculus I
MATH 151  Calculus I

MATH 152  Calculus II
MATH 152  Calculus II

MATH 253  Calculus III
MATH 253  Calculus III
One of the following:

MATH 255  Linear Algebra and Differential Equation
MATH 255  Linear Algebra and Differential Equation

MATH 300  Linear Algebra
MATH 300  Linear Algebra
Engineering Physics, B.S.
The Engineering Physics major is designed for students who are participating in our dualdegree engineering program. Because many students in the dualdegree 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
Required Support Courses

CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming
CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming

CHEM 121  General Chemistry I
CHEM 121  General Chemistry I

CHEM 122  General Chemistry II
CHEM 122  General Chemistry II

ENGR 110  The Engineering Method
ENGR 110  The Engineering Method

ENGR 120  Engineering Calculations
ENGR 120  Engineering Calculations

MATH 151  Calculus I
MATH 151  Calculus I

MATH 152  Calculus II
MATH 152  Calculus II

MATH 253  Calculus III
MATH 253  Calculus III

MATH 300  Linear Algebra
MATH 300  Linear Algebra

MATH 315  Ordinary Differential Equations
MATH 315  Ordinary Differential Equations
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
A minimum of 36 credit hours, including:
Introductory Classical Physics
One of the following Physics sequences:

PHYS 131  Physics I (NonCalculus)
PHYS 131  Physics I (NonCalculus)

PHYS 132  Physics II (NonCalculus)
PHYS 132  Physics II (NonCalculus)

PHYS 161  Physics I: Mechanics and Heat
PHYS 161  Physics I: Mechanics and Heat

PHYS 162  Physics II: Electromagnetism, Waves and Optics
PHYS 162  Physics II: Electromagnetism, Waves and Optics
or
Introductory Quantum Physics
One of the following:

PHYS 263  Physics III: Quantum Physics
PHYS 263  Physics III: Quantum Physics

CHEM 345  Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy
CHEM 345  Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy
Experimental and Advanced Physics
Eight credit hours to include:
One of the following:

PHYS 200  Electronic Instrumentation for Scientists
PHYS 200  Electronic Instrumentation for Scientists

PHYS 264  Experimental Quantum Physics
PHYS 264  Experimental Quantum Physics
At least one of the following:

PHYS 300  Computational Mechanics
PHYS 300  Computational Mechanics

PHYS 320  Physics of Solids
PHYS 320  Physics of Solids

PHYS 340  Thermal Physics I
PHYS 340  Thermal Physics I

PHYS 341  Statistical Physics
PHYS 341  Statistical Physics

PHYS 405  Data Acquisition with LabVIEW
PHYS 405  Data Acquisition with LabVIEW

PHYS 410  Advanced Experimental Physics
PHYS 410  Advanced Experimental Physics

PHYS 420  Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS 420  Electromagnetic Theory

PHYS 440  Quantum Mechanics
PHYS 440  Quantum Mechanics
Note:
Required Support Courses

CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming
CSCE 160  Introduction to Computer Programming

MATH 151  Calculus I
MATH 151  Calculus I

MATH 152  Calculus II
MATH 152  Calculus II

MATH 253  Calculus III
MATH 253  Calculus III
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.
4year course plan for Physics B.S. students
Physics courses, 20212022 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 (NonCalculus)
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 (NonCalculus)
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, spacetime diagrams, Lorentz transformations, relativistic collisions and conservation of fourmomentum. 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 160; MATH 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 160, MATH 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 151; PHYS 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 152; MATH 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 onedimensional potentials, the hydrogen atom and the electronic structure of multielectron atoms, spinorbit coupling.
Prerequisite(s): PHYS 162; MATH 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 xray diffraction, single photon twoslit 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  Computerassisted measurement and automation of experiments using the LabVIEW graphical programming platform. Handson 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, xray diffraction, electrical conduction, band theory, semiconductors and semiconductor devices. Other topics may include thermal properties, magnetic properties of solids.
Prerequisite(s): MATH 151; PHYS 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 162; MATH 151; CHEM 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 345; PHYS 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
1.0016.00 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, xray spectroscopy, magnetic resonance, vacuum techniques, solidstate physics, laser physics, nuclear physics. Laboratory required.
Prerequisite(s): PHYS 200, PHYS 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, onedimensional and threedimensional potentials, angular momentum, the hydrogen atom, operator methods, matrix mechanics, Dirac notation and approximation methods.
Prerequisite(s): PHYS 263 or CHEM 345; MATH 253 and MATH 300.
PHYS 490  Topics
2.004.00 credit hours  Advanced topics in physics, such as biophysics, astrophysics and cosmology, particles and nuclei, general relativity, advanced mechanics.
Prerequisite(s): Varies by topic.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty Emeriti
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 "realworld" experience through an Internship
Many physics & engineering students work parttime in the Cooperative Education (CoOp) Program at Argonne National Laboratory. Coop students work 1519 hours per week during the school year and often work fulltime during summer and break periods.

Expand your horizons with a Richter Independent Study Fellowship
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.