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Statistical mechanics, the microscopic basis of classical thermodynamics, is developed in this subject. It is one of the core areas of physics, finding wide application in solid state physics, astrophysics, plasma physics and cosmology.
Using fundamental ideas from quantum physics, a systematic treatment of statistical mechanics is developed for systems in equilibrium. The content of this subject includes ensembles and the basic postulate; the statistical basis of the second and third laws of thermodynamics; canonical, micro-canonical and grand-canonical ensembles and associated statistical and thermodynamic functions; ideal quantum gases; black body radiation; the classical limit and an introduction to real gases and applications to solid state physics.
Intended learning outcomes
Students completing this subject should be able to:
- explain the statistical basis of the second and third laws of thermodynamics and the application of statistical mechanics to a range of problems in physics;
- calculate statistical and thermodynamic functions using the canonical, micro-canonical and grand-canonical ensembles; and
- analyse and interpret mathematical expressions obtained in these calculations.
A student who completes this subject should be able to:
- analyse how to solve a problem by applying simple fundamental laws to more complicated situations.
- apply abstract concepts to real-world situations.
- solve relatively complicated problems using approximations.
- participate as an effective member of a group in tutorial discussions
- manage time effectively in order to be prepared for tutorial classes, undertake the written assignments and the examination.
Last updated: 12 May 2020