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Statistical Physics - PHYS702

This unit presents an introduction to thermodynamics and statistical physics. The first half of the course begins with a definition of state functions and macroscopic variables such as temperature, pressure, and volume which characterise the state of a system, introducing the equation of state. Entropy is introduced via an information theoretic argument and applied to counting microstates of a system. We define the zeroth through the third laws of Thermodynamics and introduce the T dS relations. The role of potentials in simplifying thermodynamic predictions is explored. The concepts of reversible and irreversible engines and refrigeration cycles are covered in detail. We cover the ideal gas law and first order corrections for the Van der Waals gas.

In the second half we introduce thermodynamical equilibrium as a postulate of statistical mechanics. We derive the partition function via the principle of maximum entropy. The Gibbs paradox is described as are macro, micro and grand canonical ensembles with examples using the ideal gas and Van der Waals gas. A short introduction is given to quantum statistical mechanics and Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions are derived. A range of interacting statistical systems such as ferrormagnetism are explored and we introduce the study of order parameters and phase transitions.

Credit Points: 4
When Offered:

S1 Day - Session 1, North Ryde, Day

Staff Contact(s): Professor Judith Dawes

Admission to MRes Prerequisite Information


Unit Designation(s):
Unit Type:
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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