Syllabus Spring 2018 Physics 20900

The City College of New York

Department of Physics

Physics 20900LM                  University Physics III:                      Spring 2018

Physical Optics and Modern Physics

Instructor:       S. K. Gayen

Office: CDI-2.380; Phone: (212) 650-5580; E-mail:

Office Hours: Tuesday and Friday 1.30 – 2.45 P.M. at Room MR-419

Course Description

Calculus-based study of the basic concepts of wave motion, physical optics, and modern physics 

Topics include: Wave equation, Electromagnetic Waves, Dispersion; Interference, Diffraction, Polarization; Special Theory of Relativity; Particle properties of Waves, Photoelectric Effect, Compton Effect; Wave Properties of Particles, Wave-particle duality; The Nuclear Atom, Bohr Model, Franck-Hertz Experiment; The Schrodinger Equation, Harmonic Oscillator, Hydrogen Atom; Atomic Physics; Molecular Structure and Atomic Spectra; Structure of Solids, Conduction; Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Structure, Nuclear Force, Radioactivity.  Prerequisite: Physics 20800 or equivalent, Math 20300 or 20900; 4 lect. hr./wk.; 4 cr.

Class Schedule:  Tuesday, Thursday 10.00 – 11.40 A.M. (Room: MR-418N)


  • Fundamentals of Physics, 10th Edition (Extended), Halliday, Resnick and Walker, Wiley,

ISBN 978-1-118-23072-5 (Extended edition) Binder-ready version ISBN 978-1-118-23061-9 (Extended edition)" (Required) [Same text used for Physics 20700 and Physics 20800) but extended version]


  • Optics (4th Edition) by Eugene Hecht, Addison Wesley (ISBN 0-8053-8566-5)
  • Modern Physics for Scientists and Engineers (2nd Edition) by John R. Taylor, Chris D. Zafiratos, and Michael A. Dubson, Pearson/Prentice Hall (ISBN 0-13-805715-X)

Course Objectives

After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

a.    Understand attributes of electromagnetic waves and their propagation: reflection, refraction, dispersion.

b.   Understand and solve simple problems involving interference and diffraction of light, interferometers  

c.    Understand solve problems involving polarization including polarizers, dichroism, birefringence, etc.

d.   Understand and apply special theory relativity to relativistic mechanics

e.    Understand the role of important experiments in elucidating the nature of atoms, light, and matter

f.    Understand the Bohr model of hydrogen atom and quantization of atomic energy levels

g.   Understand elements of quantum mechanics, wave functions; set up and solve Schrodinger equation for simple systems, such as, potential wells and barriers, simple harmonic oscillator, and hydrogen atom

h.   Understand Pauli Exclusion Principle, atomic structure and molecular spectra and basics of laser

i.    Understand and solve problems involving nuclear size, binding energy, and radioactivity

j.    Understand structure of solids, energy bands, conduction etc.            

Assessment/Grading Policy

Two in-class tests 2 x 20%, Short Quiz: 10%, Homework 10%, Cumulative final (40%). In-class test dates: March 13, May 1.

Course Outline

  1. Physical Optics
  • Electromagnetic Waves: Wave Equation in three-dimension; Transverse wave, Energy, Momentum, Poynting vector
  • Propagation of Electromagnetic waves: Scattering, Reflection, Refraction, Fresnel Equations, Dispersion
  • Polarization: Linear, Circular, Elliptical, Representation as superposition of two orthogonal components;  Dichroism, Birefringence, Retarders
  • Interference: Review of Young’s Double-Slit Experiment,  Coherence, Thin-Film interference, Interferometers (Michelson and Fabry-Perot)
  • Diffraction: Fraunhofer Diffraction, Review of Single-slit and double-slit experiments; Multiple-slit diffraction, Intensity distribution; Diffraction grating
  1. Modern Physics
  • Special Theory of Relativity, Lorentz Transformation, Relativistic Mechanics, Energy and Momentum
  • Particle Properties of Waves, Photoelectric Effect, Compton Effect
  • Wave Properties of Particles, de Broglie Waves, Wave-Particle Duality
  • The Nuclear Atom, Bohr Model, Franck-Hertz Experiment
  • The Schrodinger Equation, Potential Well, Potential Barrier
  • Quantum Theory of Harmonic Oscillator and Hydrogen Atom
  • Atomic Physics, Many Electron Atoms, Pauli Principle, Periodic Table; Lasers
  • Molecular Structure and Spectra
  • Structure of Solids, Conduction
  • Nuclear Physics: Nuclear Structure, Nuclear Force, Radioactivity


General Information

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism: The CCNY Policy on Academic Integrity will be strictly adhered to. The document entitled, “CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity” is available from the link “About Policy and University Information” of “Information for Current Students” of the CCNY Home Page. Make sure you have read the details regarding plagiarism and cheating, and be clear about the rules that the college follows. Cases where academic integrity is compromised will be prosecuted to the fullest extent according to these rules.

Attendance: Class sessions will focus on discussion of concepts, derivation of key formulae, as well as, problem solving. Regular attendance, on-time arrival, and participation in entire class sessions are required. Absence in a test without prior permission, or unavoidable circumstances (such as, sickness, emergency, etc.) will result in a score of “0” for the test.

Homework: Solving the homework problems is the key to success in the course. The problems in the tests will relate to the concepts covered in the homework problems and in the worked out problems in the class and in the textbook. Homework assignments will be collected, graded, and returned to the students.

Study Tips: To derive maximum benefit from lectures, please skim through the material that will be taught. To be up to date, please go through the lecture notes, textbook, and rewrite your lecture notes before the next class. To develop comprehension of the materials and to be able to use those, solve the homework problems, and engage your classmates and instructor in discussions.  While individual efforts may vary, on the average expect to spend 5-10 hours per week, every week, studying and solving problems, in addition to the time spent in lecture.

Accommodations  for  students  with  disabilities:  Qualified  students  with  disabilities  will  be  provided  reasonable academic accommodations if determined eligible by the Access Ability Center (AAC). Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student’s eligibility from the AAC, which is located in NAC 1/218. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with the AAC and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.”