Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Search Course IDs and descriptions for:

Find complete words only

Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | PHYS108 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Physics-Wave Motion/Optics/Modern Physics

The third semester of the three-semester introductory physics sequence for the engineering and science students. The typical student in this course will transfer to a four-year university for a degree in engineering or technology. 3 lecture hours, 2 lab hours.

PHYS107 (Calculus-based Physics, Electricity+Magnetism)


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of basic scientific nomenclature, basic measuring techniques and basic analytical techniques
  • Illustrate understanding of concepts and equations by identifying variables, interpreting the significance of the equations, and citing applications, as well as predicting (with justification) variations in results from changes in conditions, in the wave, optical, and modern physics processes
  • Analyze concepts by detailing the assumptions and limitations of the conceptual models as well as justifying corrective terms and signage for formulae used in wave, optical, and modern physics processes
  • Apply various wave, optical, and modern physics concepts to multi-level, application problems that make use of diagramming, vector mathematics, derivatives, integrals, using correct signage, dimensional analysis, and justification for plausibility of the process (based on the standards given in a rubric)
  • Interpret graphical representations for functions and processes by extrapolating data or drawing conclusions about the wave, optical, and modern physics process
  • Demonstrate proper laboratory and communication skills through experiments, industry projects, and produce lab reports that demonstrate competence in aspects of technical writing


This course covers Thermodynamics, Waves and Physical Optics, Quantum Physics, Relativity, and introductory Atomic Physics. A foundation of waves and harmonic motion is presented, then optics is presented including physical optics. These concepts are then used to provide a basic understanding of quantum physics and mechanics, including the concepts of quantization of energy and other characteristics and the structure of the atom. Relativity is also presented as a modern physics topic.

The material covered in this course is as follows:
  • Thermodynamics - 33%
    • Temperature
    • The First Law of Thermodynamics
    • The Kinetic Theory of Gases
    • Heat Engines, Entropy, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
  • Waves and Physical Optics - 33%
    • Wave Motion
    • Superposition and Standing Waves
    • Electromagnetic Waves
    • Wave Optics
    • Diffraction Patterns and Polarization
  • Modern, Atomic, and Nuclear Physics - 33%
    • Relativity
    • Introduction to Quantum Physics
    • Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
    • Atomic Physics
Unit 1: Thermodynamics, Chapters 19-22
Unit 2: Waves and Optics: Chapters 16, 18, 34, 37, 38
Unit 3: Modern Physics: Chapters 39-42

Weekly Schedule:
(Lab schedule listed above)

Week 1:
Students read chapter 19.
Lecture topics:
19.1 Temperature and the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics
19.2 Thermometers and the Celsius Temperature Scale
19.3 The Constant-Volume Gas Thermometer and the Absolute Temperature Scale
19.4 Thermal Expansion of Solids and Liquids
19.5 Macroscopic Description of an Ideal Gas

Week 2:
Students read chapter 20.
Lecture topics:
20.1 Heat and Internal Energy
20.2 Specific Heat and Calorimetry
20.3 Latent Heat
20.4 Work and Heat in Thermodynamic Processes
20.5 The First Law of Thermodynamics
20.6 Some Applications of the First Law of Thermodynamics
20.7 Energy Transfer Mechanisms in Thermal Processes

Week 3:
Students read chapter 21.
Lecture topics:
21.1 Molecular Model of an Ideal Gas
21.2 Molar Specific Heat of an Ideal Gas
21.3 The Equipartition of Energy
21.4 Adiabatic Processes for an Ideal Gas
21.5 Distribution of Molecular Speeds

Week 4:
Students read chapter 22.
Lecture topics:
22.1 Heat Engines and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
22.2 Heat Pumps and Refrigerators
22.3 Reversible and Irreversible Processes
22.4 The Carnot Engine
22.5 Gasoline and Diesel Engines
22.6 Entropy
22.7 Changes in Entropy for Thermodynamic Systems
22.8 Entropy and the Second Law

Week 5:
Review and continued practice with chapters 19-22.
Students take written exam on chapters 19-22.

Week 6:
Students read chapter 16.
Lecture topics:
Review of Harmonic Motion
16.1 Propagation of a Disturbance
16.2 Traveling Waves
16.3 The Speed of Waves on Strings
16.4 Reflection and Transmission
16.5 Rate of Energy Transfer by Sinusoidal Waves on Strings
16.6 The Linear Wave Equation

Week 7:
Students read chapter 18.
Lecture Topics:
18.1 Waves in Interference
18.2 Standing Waves
18.3 Waves Under Boundary Conditions
18.4 Resonance
18.5 Standing Waves in Air Columns
18.6 Standing Waves in Rods and Membranes
18.7 Beats: Interference in Time
18.8 Non-sinusoidal Wave Patterns

Week 8:
Students read chapter 34.
Lecture Topics:
34.1 Displacement Current and the General Form of Ampère’s Law
34.2 Maxwell’s Equations and Hertz’s Discoveries
34.3 Plane Electromagnetic Waves
34.4 Energy Carried by Electromagnetic Waves
34.5 Momentum and Radiation Pressure
34.6 Production of Electromagnetic Waves by an Antenna
34.7 The Spectrum of Electromagnetic Waves

Week 9:
Students read chapter 37.
Lecture Topics:
37.1 Young’s Double-Slit Experiment
37.2 Waves in Interference
37.3 Intensity Distribution of the Double-Slit Interference Pattern
37.4 Change of Phase Due to Reflection
37.5 Interference in Thin Films
37.6 The Michelson Interferometer

Week 10:
Students read chapter 38.
Lecture Topics:
38.1 Introduction to Diffraction Patterns
38.2 Diffraction Patterns from Narrow Slits
38.3 Resolution of Single-Slit and Circular Apertures
38.4 The Diffraction Grating
38.5 Diffraction of X-Rays by Crystals
38.6 Polarization of Light Waves

Week 11:
Students take written exam over chapters 16, 18, 34, 37, 38
Students read chapter 39.
Lecture Topics:
39.1 The Principle of Galilean Relativity
39.2 The Michelson–Morley Experiment
39.3 Einstein’s Principle of Relativity
39.4 Consequences of the Special Theory of Relativity
39.5 The Lorentz Transformation Equations
39.6 The Lorentz Velocity Transformation Equations

Week 12:
Students read chapter 40.
Lecture Topics:
39.7 Relativistic Linear Momentum
39.8 Relativistic Energy
39.9 The General Theory of Relativity
40.1 Blackbody Radiation and Planck’s Hypothesis
40.2 The Photoelectric Effect
40.3 The Compton Effect
40.4 The Nature of Electromagnetic Waves
40.5 The Wave Properties of Particles
40.6 The Quantum Particle

Week 13:
Students read chapter 42.
Lecture Topics:
40.7 The Double-Slit Experiment Revisited
40.8 The Uncertainty Principle
42.1 Atomic Spectra of Gases
42.2 Early Models of the Atom
42.3 Bohr’s Model of the Hydrogen Atom
42.4 The Quantum Model of the Hydrogen Atom
42.5 The Wave Functions for Hydrogen
42.6 Physical Interpretation of the Quantum Numbers

Week 14:
Students read chapter 41.
42.7 The Exclusion Principle and the Periodic Table
42.8 More on Atomic Spectra: Visible and X-Ray
42.9 Spontaneous and Stimulated Transitions
42.10 Lasers
41.1 The Wave Function
41.2 Quantum Particle Under Boundary Conditions
41.3 The Schrödinger Equation
41.4 A Particle in a Well of Finite Height

Week 15:
Lecture Topics:
41.5 Tunneling Through a Potential Energy Barrier
41.6 Applications of Tunneling
41.6 Applications of Tunneling

Students take written exam over chapters 39-42

Week Topic Description / Student Learning Outcome(s)
1 Lab Safety and Introduction Students will learn necessary lab safety, form lab groups, and learn about course lab requirements.
2 Coefficient of Thermal Expansion Metal rods are heated and the change of length, initial length and change of temperature are measured. The coefficient of thermal expansion is calculated and compared to the known value.
3 Boyle’s Law A fixed amount of gas is exposed to different pressures and the volume measured
4 Determination of Absolute zero A constant volume thermometer and an alcohol thermometer are used to measure the temperatures of three water baths; an ice bath, room temperature bath and a bath of boiling water. A graph of Temperature vs Pressure is created with the data and extrapolated to absolute zero
5 Mechanical Equivalent of heat A cylinder of known specific heat is taken through a temperature change by friction of a weight bearing rope. The mechanical work and the energy of heat are calculated and compared.
6 Standing Waves Students will verify the relationship between mass per unit length, tension and wave speed using standing waves.
7 Spectrum of Electromagnetic Waves Students will compare the wavelength and frequency of different sorts of EM waves and investigate how those wavelengths relate to different physical objects.
8 Measuring the Speed of Light Students will determine the speed of light using a diffraction grating and spectral bulbs.
9 The Index of Refraction Students will measure the index of refraction of a substance using a spectrometer.
10 Polarization of light Students will examine polarized light using different polarizing lenses and will investigate some of the applications of polarization.
11 Interference patterns Students will examine interference patterns of light passing through thin slits.
12 Relativity Students will investigate the effects of special relativity on theoretical interstellar voyages at relativistic speeds.
13 Photoelectric effect Students will investigate the photoelectric effect and measure the work function of various materials.
14 Quantum Physics Students will examine balls moving inside boundary conditions to learn about particles in potential wells.
15 Atomic Physics Students will measure nuclear decay and determine shielding ability of various substances.

Serway, Physics for Scientists and Engineers, 9th Edition, Saunders.
See bookstore website for current book(s) at


The classroom’s main activity is lecture interspersed with questions and discussion. Problems are assigned to be completed by the student. There are three hourly exams.

Students are expected to gain competence in writing, reading, and understanding scientific and mathematical material through participation in a weekly laboratory exercise. The students’ grades are based on experimental techniques, results and written reports.

The main emphasis of this course is to learn to analyze problems and to be able to apply the proper equations and mathematical procedures to obtain a numerical solution.

The final grade is apportioned among:
Lab reports
Hourly Exams
Final Exam

Grading Scale:

90-100% = A
80-89.9% = B
70-79.9% = C
60-69.9% = D
60% and Below = F


Membership in the DACC community brings both rights and responsibility. As a student at DACC, you are expected to exhibit conduct compatible with the educational mission of the College. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, is not tolerated. A DACC student is also required to abide by the acceptable use policies of copyright and peer-to-peer file sharing. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as contained in the DACC Student Handbook. The Student Handbook is available in the Information Office in Vermilion Hall and online at:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

Spring 2020

Upcoming Events