Physics 363 - Thermal Physics

MW, 1:25 - 2:40 PM
Location: Physics 130

Gleb Finkelstein, Rm. 093, phone: 660-2523, e-mail: gleb at

Office hours: Wednesday 9:00-10:30 am + 15 min. after the class

TA: Trevyn Larson, e-mail: trevyn.larson at

Office hours: Monday and Friday 3:00-4:00 pm


Main one: "An Introduction to Thermal Physics" by Daniel V. Schroeder
See also:
"Fundamentals of Statistical and Thermal Physics" by F. Reif
"Thermodynamics and an Introduction to Thermostatistics", by H.B. Callen
"Thermal Physics" by C. Kittel and H. Kroemer

You may also have a look at a longer list of useful textbooks on my page for PHY 763, the graduate Statistical Mechanics.


1. Energy and temperature; ideal gas; equipartition; the First Law; heat capacity.

2. Entropy and the Second Law. Statistics of two-state system, Einstein solid model and multiplicity of an ideal gas; statistical definition of entropy.

3. Temperature, pressure, and chemical potential. Entropy and heat; heat capacity revisited; examples: paramagnet, Einstein solid, and ideal gas (microcanonical ensemble).

4. Engines and Refrigerators. Carnot cycle; limits on efficiency from the laws of thermodynamics; example: methods of reaching very low temperatures.

5. Free Energy and Thermodynamics. Definitions and interpretations of Helmholtz and Gibbs free energies; phase transformations.

6. Boltzmann Statistics. Boltzmann factor and partition function; examples: atomic and molecular excitations, paramagnetism, equipartition theorem revisited, Maxwell distribution, ideal gases.

7. Quantum Statistics. Gibbs factor; Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein distributions; degenerate electron gases; blackbody radiation; Debye theory; Bose-Einstein condensation.

8. Advanced topics (as time permits): kinetics, second order phase transitions, entropy and information.

Will be communicated by email

Lecture notes
The notes are neither original nor proof-read, but will give you a general idea of the material covered.
Graded Material

Problem sets (mostly weekly): 40 %

Midterm exam: 20 %
Final exam: 40 % 

Final EXAM
MWF/MW/WF, PERIOD 4, 1:25 or 1:40 PM     Friday, May 5     9:00 AM - NOON
Tentatively on Wednsday, March 22 during the class time

Spring 2017, last updated: 11-Jan-2017.
Originally prepared for Spring 2014.