Experimental Physics I
Instructor: E.Sternin
Course Outline
  • This is a senior undergraduate laboratory course, 13 weeks in duration, four hours per week. Six lab reports are completed, some involving several weeks of experiments:
    1. X-ray fluorescence (H305/H308)
    2. X-ray powder diffraction (H305/H308)
    3. Electron diffraction (H303B)
    4. Preparation of a thin film of Bismuth (H303B)
    5. Resistivity and Hall effect measurements on a thin film of Bismuth (H303B)
    6. Gamma-ray scintillation spectroscopy and the Compton effect (H308)
    7. Planck's constant measurement I (black-body radiation) (H308)
    8. Planck's constant measurement II (photoelectric effect) (H308)
    9. Raman spectroscopy (H303B)
  • Completing all experiments and submitting all lab reports is required to pass the course. Lab marks conribute a total of 75% to the final mark.
  • Lab reports must be written in the form of a scientific paper. Excessive reproduction of the lab manual is discouraged; students should use a proper form of citation and an appropriate bibliography. Each lab report should contain all of the information necessary to reproduce the results, and - in Appendix form - the raw measured data as appropriate for each experiment.
  • The only acceptable form of lab report preparation is TeX/LaTeX. Graphics included in the report must be in vector (fully scalable) format, physica or gnuplot are the recommended graphics preparation packages. Bitmap graphics (photographs) must be rendered in their final size, at 600dpi, in a graphics editor program (xv, gimp) and must not be scaled further inside LaTeX. No "WYSIWYG"-style word processor documents are allowed, however overleaf.com use is accepted and encouraged, and that approximates the WYSIWYG mode of document preparation very well. A sample lab report demostrates the proper form.
  • Lab reports are due by one minute past midnight (00:01) of the day of the next lab; with 100% late penalty.
  • Each lab begins at (time TBA) on a (day TBA) with all students present. After the equipment is introduced, one of the student groups performs the experiment, with everyone else observing. Time permitting, other groups are able to complete the experiment on the same day, or leave and reschedule a time slot in the lab individually. Instructor and/or TA will be available as-needed at those times.
  • Students are not allowed to work alone and the last two students must leave the lab together. Some equipment represents significant potential danger, including electrical and radiation hazards. Violation of lab safety rules will result in an immediate involuntary removal from the course. If in doubt, it is the students' responsibility to ask for assistance or clarification.
  • There is a two-part final exam in the course:
    1. an oral exam worth 15% of the final mark, during which the student has access only to his/her lab reports and may be required to provide detailed explanations of the operating procedures and/or of the operation of the equipment in any of the experiments; and
    2. a written submission, due by noon on the last day of classes and worth 10% of the final mark, that is a revision of one of the sections of the lab manual, incorporating the insight the student has gathered during the lab and the material from additional sources as appropriate. Several students may be assigned to the revision of the same experiment, and the best submission may be used in the future editions of the lab manual, so all illustrations used must be copyright-free. Students are encouraged to bear this in mind during the labs, and to take extensive notes that could later be used for such final written submissions.
  • Maintaining safe and tidy workspace in the laboratory is required. A passing grade in the course is conditional on the final clean-up of the laboratory workspace at the end of the term, to the satisfaction of the instructor.