PHYC 301: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics

Prof. David Dunlap
Office: PAIS 2530

Description of the class

In this class we will concern ourselves with physics that was discovered/formulated in the 1800's, and stands among the greatest achievements in natural philosophy in our modern age - thermodynamics.


Homework 3 is due on Monday, Sept. 20th. Today (Wednesday) I veered from the Freshman notes on free energy, by introducing an electrical system to consider - a charged parallel plate capacitor. While this seems to be a far stretch from our ideal gas, these both have something in common. In both the ideal gas and the capacitor, we know how to write down expressions for the reversible work at constant T. In the case of the ideal gas, the reversible work is a function of volume, -nRTln(V)+f(T). In the case of the capacitor the reversible work is a function of charge, q^2/2C+f(T). The former is the free energy at constant volume and temperature A(T,V). The latter is the free energy at constant charge and temperature A(T,q). The parallels can be exploited to discover things about the capacitor. See Lecture notes 10. On Friday I will review this, and then discuss another example; electromagnets.


Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 12:00-12:50, Regener Hall Room 114.


Friday, 1:00-1:50, Regener Hall Room 114.


Thermal Physics by Daniel V. Schroeder


Homework assignments for Physics 301 will be posted here:

Homework 1

Solutions for Homework 1

Homework 2

Solutions for Homework 2 (corrected prob. 6 solution)

Homework 3

Occasional Class Lecture Notes

I will try my best to write up lecture notes after class for some of the more advanced topics (not covered in the freshman lectures.

Lecture 7 Notes from 9/8/2021

Lecture 8 Notes from 9/10/2021

Lecture 9 Notes from 9/13/2021

Lecture 10 Notes from 9/15/2021

Lecture 11 Notes from 9/17/2021

Lecture Notes and Homework from Thermodyanmics in General Physics II

For the first several weeks of class we will be abandoning your textbook, and loosely following the lecture notes below. Please read through all 11 lectures, and go through all of the worked examples. For further practice you are welcome to try the homework.

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3.

Lecture 4.

Lecture 5.

Lecture 6.

Lecture 7.

Lecture 8.

Lecture 9.

Lecture 10.

Lecture 11.

Homework 1

Solutions to Homework 1

Homework 2

Solutions to Homework 2

Homework 3

Solutions to Homework 3

Homework 4

Solutions to Homework 4

Homework 5

Solutions to Homework 5

Thermodynamics Flashcards

Practice for Thermodynamics

Solutions for Thermodynamics Practice

Office hours

Please contact me, or just stop by my office.

Homework and Exams

Homework: This will normally be assigned each Tuesday, to be passed in at the beginning of class the following Monday. The semester homework total will be worth 35% of the overall grade.

Exams: There will be 3 exams during the semester, spaced roughly 1 month apart, and a final exam. The regular exams will each be worth 15%, and the final exam will be worth 20% of the overall grade. Grades are based on percentages: A (90-100), B (80-89), C (70-79), D (60 - 69) F (<60).


The first half of class will focus on thermodynamics. The second half will be an introduction to statistical mechanics.

Other Notes

UNM Administrative Mandate on Required Vaccinations
All students, staff, and instructors are required by UNM Administrative Mandate on Required Vaccinations to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible, but no later than September 30, 2021, and must provide proof of vaccination or of a UNM validated limited exemption or exemption no later than September 30, 2021 to the UNM vaccination verification site. Students seeking medical exemption from the vaccination policy must submit a request to the UNM verification site for review by the UNM Accessibility Resource Center. Students seeking religious exemption from the vaccination policy must submit a request for reasonable accommodation to the UNM verification site for review by the Compliance, Ethics, and Equal Opportunity Office. For further information on the requirement and on limited exemptions and exemptions, see the UNM Administrative Mandate on Required Vaccinations.
UNM Requirement on Masking in Indoor Spaces
All students, staff, and instructors are required to wear face masks in indoor classes, labs, studios and meetings on UNM campuses, see masking requirement. Qualified music students must follow appropriate specific mask policies issued by the Chair of the Department of Music and the Dean of the College of Fine Arts. Vaccinated and unvaccinated instructors teaching in classrooms must wear a mask when entering and leaving the classroom and when moving around the room. When vaccinated instructors are able to maintain at least six feet of distance, they may choose to remove their mask for the purpose of increased communication during instruction. Instructors who are not vaccinated (because of an approved medical or religious exemption), or who are not vaccinated yet, must wear their masks at all times. Students who do not wear a mask indoors on UNM campuses can expect to be asked to leave the classroom and to be dropped from a class if failure to wear a mask occurs more than once in that class. With the exception of the limited cases described above, students and employees who do not wear a mask in classrooms and other indoor public spaces on UNM campuses are subject to disciplinary actions.
Communication on change in modality: The President and Provost of UNM may direct that classes move to remote delivery at any time to preserve the health and safety of the students, instructor and community. Please check regularly for updates about our class and please check regularly for general UNM updates about COVID-19 and the health of our community.

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