PH635-2F Statistical Mechanics (Spring, 2013) Course Information

Course Description: Through this course students will learn equilibrium thermodynamics, equilibrium statistical mechanics, and Brownian motion/Diffusion processes. Applications include solid state physics, biophysics, chemical reactions, and other selected topics. Various mathematical methods such as line integrals, partial differentials, and probability theory are used throughout the course. Computational tools such as Maple are also used during the course.

Prerequisites: PH551 Quantum mechanics II

Learning Objectives:
  • Equilibrium Thermodynamics
    • State variables and equation of state
    • Entropy
    • Laws of thermodynamics
    • Thermodynamics Potentials
  • Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics (including some quantum statistical mechanics)
    • Microcanonical ensemble
    • Canonical ensemble
    • Grandcanonical ensemble
  • Brownian motion and diffusion
    • Random walk
    • Langevin equation
    • Fokker-Planck equation

Day and Time: Tue. & Thu. 11:00AM-12:45PM
Room: CH 394 (Computer Lab)
Instructor: Dr. Ryoichi Kawai
phone: (205) 934-3931
skype*: userid = ryoichikawai
* You must send your skype user ID to the instructor by email in advance or your call will be blocked.
Office Hour: Wed. 12:30-1:30pm
Course Website:

Course Schedule
Homework Assignment
Suggested Reading
Required Textbook
S. J. Blundell and K. M. Blundell:
Concepts in Thermal Physics
2nd edition Oxford University Press (2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0199562107

Messages from the Instructor
  • Class will meet at normal scheduled time on Jan. 10 (Thu). See you in class soon.

Several homework problems will be given every week. Homework must be turned in electronically by email.  Allowed formats are LaTeX source, LaTeX dvi,  Acorbat PDF, Maple Worksheet, Maple Document, Mathematica Document.  (Hand written documents must be scanned in high resolution (300 DPI) with sufficient contrast and saved in PDF.)

Two midterm exams and a final comprehensive exam will be given. Students must take all three exams. Make-up exam is granted only when a written reasonable excuse is presented.

Exams and assignments carry the following maximum possible points. Midterm exams (20 pts. each), Final exam (40 pts.), Homework and other assignments (20 pts.). The total maximum possible points is 100. Letter grades are determined by the rule given in the table.
Grade Total Score
A 85 or above
B 75 or above
C 60 or above
F Otherwise