2017-18
Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

Physics (PHY)

Physics

North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260
Ph: 716-645-2017
F: 716-645-2507
W: www.physics.buffalo.edu
John Cerne
Director of Undergraduate Studies

The Learning Environment

Introductory courses consist of large lectures given by a faculty member and smaller recitation sections that are taught by graduate teaching assistants. The lectures introduce the material and the recitations focus on applications and problem-solving. The lectures use many demonstrations to show physics principles in live action. Almost all the introductory lectures use personal response systems, where students use clickers to respond to the instructors’ questions. The homework assignments for the introductory courses are typically submitted online. We also offer purely online introductory courses during winter session.

The introductory lab courses explore basic topics such as forces, kinematics, friction, electrostatics and electric circuits. These experiments are designed to illustrate and expand upon topics taught in the introductory lecture courses.

Our upper division courses are smaller, with around 25-35 students. We offer two upper division lab courses. In the Modern Physics Laboratory (PHY 307), students work on experiments that established modern physics in the early 20th century. In the Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHY 407 and PHY 408), students choose to work on three experiments that were developed by our faculty and use research-grade equipment.

Many of our majors, and even non-majors, complete independent study projects (PHY 498 and PHY 499) with our faculty. Our majors are encouraged to write a senior thesis (PHY 497), which allows them to graduate with honors.

About Our Facilities

Any visitor to the Fronzak Hall, where the Physics Department is located, will quickly see that our department is passionate about teaching. Our building contains dozens of exhibits, ranging from a Foucault pendulum to a camera obscura, to teach physics. Most of the exhibits are interactive and were designed and built locally. The Department uses the exhibits for tours and outreach to our community.

The department also has laboratory space dedicated to teaching introductory and upper level physics. The introductory laboratory space consists of 5 classrooms, while the upper level labs are housed in two rooms.

Students doing independent research projects may be found in any one of our many research labs working with faculty and graduate students on cutting-edge topics.

About Our Faculty

The Physics Department consists of 25 full-time faculty members and about 45 graduate teaching assistants. The faculty is comprised of approximately an equal number of theorists and experimentalists. Faculty members are involved in most areas of physics including condensed matter physics, biophysics, high energy physics, and astrophysics/cosmology. Courses are primarily taught by full-time UB faculty members, with perhaps one or two sections per semester taught by adjunct faculty.

Six faculty members have received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, nine are Fellows of the American Physical Society, eight have won National Science Foundation Career Awards, and five are SUNY Distinguished Professors.

Faculty List Directory

Please visit the Physics department website for additional information about our faculty.

PHY Courses


  • PHY 100LR Introduction to Physics
    Lecture

    Preparation for PHY 107-PHY 108 or PHY 101-PHY 102, emphasizing on math skills and application to simple physics problems. Reviews algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus (optional and not tested) as applied to physics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHY 101LR College Physics
    Lecture

    Presents non-calculus, introductory physics, including mechanics, heat, waves, and sound. This course satisfies 4 credits as required by different majors, and also 4 credits (out of the mandated 7 credits total) of UB's Scientific Literacy & Inquiry Sequence general education requirements. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade other than W may only repeat the course in the winter or summer. Repeating in the fall or spring semester can be requested by petition submitted through the Dept. to CAS.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Other Requisites: Enrollment is not allowed in PHY 101 if a student has current enrollment in PHY 107.
  • PHY 102LR College Physics II
    Lecture

    Presents non-calculus, introductory physics, including electricity and magnetism, light, optics, and modern physics. This course satisfies 4 credits as required by different majors, and also 4 credits (out of the mandated 7 credits total) of UB's Scientific Literacy & Inquiry Sequence general education requirements.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Prerequisites: PHY 101 or PHY 107 or PHY 117
  • PHY 105LEC Physics for Ceo's
    Lecture

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHY 107LR General Physics I
    Lecture

    A calculus-based introductory course primarily for chemistry, engineering, and physics majors. Covers kinematics, Newton's laws, energy, momentum, rotational motion, and oscillations. This course satisfies 4 credits as required by different majors and also 4 credits (out of the mandated 7 credits total) of UB's Science Literacy and Inquiry general education requirement sequence. Enrollment is not allowed in PHY 107 if a student has current enrollment in PHY 101.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Corequisites: MTH 141.Enrollment is not allowed in PHY 107 if a student has current enrollment in PHY 101.
    Other Requisites: Pre- or
  • PHY 108LR General Physics II
    Lecture

    A calculus based introductory course primarily for chemistry, engineering, and physics majors. Covers the electric field, Gauss' law, electric potential, capacitance, DC circuits, RC circuits, magnetic field, Faraday's law, inductance, LR circuits, AC circuits, and Maxwell's equations. This course satisfies 4 credits as required by different majors and also 4 credits (out of the mandated 7 credits total) of UB's Science Literacy and Inquiry general education requirement sequence.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Prerequisites: PHY 107 or PHY 117
  • PHY 116LEC Philosophy of Physics
    Lecture

    Studies views of space, time, and matter in the ancient world; European post-Renaissance, nineteenth-century ideas and discoveries; wave-particle dualism; wave mechanics; Copenhagen school; theory of relativity; and problems of matter, radiation, and cosmology.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 117LR Honors Physics I
    Lecture

    PHY 117 is a calculus based Honors physics course, which covers similar topics as PHY 107, but in greater depth. This course is intended for potential physics majors, students in the honors college, and advanced students in other majors (with permission from the instructor). The class will be taught at a level comfortable for students who would receive a B or higher in a typical PHY 107 class. Because of the higher average GPA of students in this class, grading will be adjusted to reflect this quality, rather than following the conventional curves used for PHY 107. Introductory materials, such as review of trigonometry, vectors and calculus, in PHY 107 will not be covered. This leaves room to expose students to a wider range of interesting applications of Newtonian mechanics, and recent developments in topics such as Special Relativity and Cosmology. The class size is limited, to encourage interactive learning and communications between students and the instructor. This course satisfies 4 credits (out of the mandated 7 credits total) of UB's Science Literacy and Inquiry General Education requirements. Enrollment is not allowed in PHY 117 if a student has current enrollment in PHY 107.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Other Requisites: Enrollment is not allowed in PHY 117 if a student has current enrollment in PHY 107.
  • PHY 118LR Honors Physics II
    Lecture

    PHY 118 is a calculus based Honors physics course, which covers the same topics in electricity and magnetism as PHY 108, but in greater depth. Class size is limited. In general taken by students in the University Honors College, but other students may take it with permission of instructor. This course satisfies 4 credits as required by different majors and also 4 credits (out of the mandated 7 credits total) of UB's Science Literacy and Inquiry sequence general education requirements. Enrollment is not allowed in PHY 118 if a student has current enrollment in PHY 108.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 107 or PHY 117
  • PHY 119LEC How Things Work
    Lecture

    Describes working principles of devices used in everyday life, such as the video recorder, fax machine, and television. Reviews the history of discoveries that made each device possible, as well as development of the device. Explores the consequences of particular devices in society. Suitable for non-science majors, but science and engineering majors are expected to greatly benefit from it also.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHY 121LLB Descriptive Astronomy I
    Lecture

    PHY 121 is the first semester of a two-semester survey of astronomy. In PHY 121 we study the sky, the history of astronomy, telescopes and light, and the origin and structure of the Solar System. As part of the laboratory, each student is given a required telescope observation appointment. This course plus the second semester PHY 122 course satisfy UB's 7-credit Science Literacy and Inquiry general education requirement.

    Credits: 3.5
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHY 122LLB Descriptive Astronomy II
    Lecture

    PHY 122 is the second semester of a two-semester survey of astronomy. In PHY 122 we study the stars and stellar evolution, the sun, neutron stars and black holes, cosmology, and life in the universe. As part of the laboratory, each student is given a required telescope observation appointment. This course plus the first semester PHY 121 course satisfy UB?s 7-credit Science Literacy and Inquiry general education requirement.

    Credits: 3.5
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 121
  • PHY 151LAB College Physics I Lab
    Laboratory

    PHY-151 is an introductory Physics lab course. This course covers mechanics, kinematics, forces, vectors and heat. Experiments are used to demonstrate principles discussed in the lecture course PHY 101. PHY 151 satisfies the SLI General Education 1-credit laboratory requirement (out of the 7 credits total SLI Gen-Ed requirement).

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Summer
    Prerequisites: PHY 101 or PHY 107 or
    Corequisites: PHY 101
  • PHY 152LAB College Physics II Lab
    Laboratory

    PHY-152 is an introductory Physics lab course. This course covers electricity, magnetism and optics. Experiments are used to demonstrate principles discussed in the lecture course PHY 102. PHY-152 satisfies the SLI General Education 1-credit laboratory requirement (out of the 7 credits total SLI Gen-Ed requirement).

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Prerequisites: PHY 101 or PHY 107 or PHY 117 and
    Corequisites: PHY 102 or PHY 108 or PHY 118
  • PHY 157LAB General Physics Lab 1
    Laboratory

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHY 158LAB General Physics II Lab
    Laboratory

    PHY-158 is an introductory Physics lab course. This course covers mechanics, kinematics, forces, vectors, electricity and magnetism. Experiments are used to demonstrate principles discussed in the lecture courses PHY 107 and PHY 108. PHY-158 satisfies the SLI General Education 1-credit laboratory requirement (out of the 7 credits total SLI Gen-Ed requirement).

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Prerequisites: PHY 107 or PHY 117.and
    Corequisites: PHY 108 or PHY 118.
  • PHY 198SEM UB Seminar
    Seminar

    The one credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps transition to UB through an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 198 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
    Other Requisites: Students who have already successfully completed the UB seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.
  • PHY 199SEM UB Seminar
    Seminar

    The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
    Other Requisites: Students who have already successfully completed the first year seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.
  • PHY 207LR General Physics III
    Lecture

    Examines sound waves, electromagnetic waves, and geometrical and physical optics. Introduces modern physics, including discovery of the electron, the photon, wave-particle duality, the Bohr model of H-atom, the Schrödinger equation, quantum numbers, the Pauli principle and periodic table, and lasers.

    Credits: 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 108 or PHY 118
  • PHY 208LEC General Physics IV
    Lecture

    Examines thermodynamics, including temperature, zeroth law, thermal expansion, specific heat, first law, second law, entropy, third law, kinetic theory, Brownian motion, and the ideal gas. Also explores special relativity, including historical background, Lorentz transformations, length contraction, time dilation, invariance of the laws of physics, relativistic dynamics and kinematics, and paradoxes.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Prerequisites: PHY 108 or PHY 118
  • PHY 217LEC Honors Physics III
    Lecture

    Covers the same topics as PHY 207, but in greater depth. Class size is limited. In general, taken by students in the University Honors College, but other students may take it with permission of instructor.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 257LAB General Physics III Lab
    Laboratory

    Conducts experiments on waves, geometrical and physical optics, and modern physics.

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 286LAB Maple in Physics
    Laboratory

    Introduces basic syntax and capabilities of this computer calculus/algebra system as applied to obtain analytical solutions to problems in physics. Students taking PHY 386 learn the same syntax as PHY 286 students, but are required to do more advanced problems such as occur in junior-senior physics courses. A student may receive academic credit for only one of the two courses.

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHY 301LEC Intermediate Mechanics I
    Lecture

    Vectors, Newtonian mechanics: rectilinear motion of a particle, general motion of a particle in three dimensions, oscillations, Hamilton's variational principle: derivation of Lagrange's equations and Hamilton's equations with simple applications , equivalence to Newtonian dynamics, forces of constraint and the Lagrange multiplier method, generalized forces, noninertial reference systems, gravitation and central forces.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHY 302LEC Intermediate Mechanics II
    Lecture

    Whenever feasible, the Lagrangian method will be applied. Dynamics of systems of particles, mechanics of rigid bodies: planar motion, motion of rigid bodies in three dimensions, dynamics of oscillating systems.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 301
  • PHY 307LAB Modern Physics Lab
    Laboratory

    Conducts experiments in thermodynamics and modern physics.

    Credits: 2
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 207 and PHY 257
  • PHY 311LEC Applied Acoustics of Music
    Lecture

    A general, practical course. Covers the nature of sound; the ear and the hearing process; consonance and dissonance; scales and harmonic series; basic physics of musical instruments; high fidelity systems; and theatre, studio, and room acoustics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHY 342LAB Nanoscience Lab
    Laboratory

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • PHY 386LAB Maple in Physics
    Laboratory

    Introduces basic syntax and capabilities of the computer calculus/algebra system as applied to obtain analytical solutions to problems in physics. Students taking PHY 386 learn the same syntax as PHY 286 students, but are required to do more advanced problems such as occur in junior-senior physics courses. A student may receive academic credit for only one of the two courses.

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 401LEC Quantum Mechanics I - Fundamentals
    Lecture

    Origins of quantum theory, wave function and the uncertainty principle, Schrodinger equation, one-dimensional examples, formalism of quantum mechanics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Prerequisites: PHY 207
  • PHY 402LEC Quantum Mechanics II - Applications
    Lecture

    Angular momentum, three-dimensional problems, hydrogen atom, time-independant perturbation theory, electron spin and fine structure, time-dependent perturbation theory, quantum statistics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 401
  • PHY 403LEC Electricity and Magnetism I
    Lecture

    Examines vector calculus, Gauss' law, scalar and vector potentials, Laplace and Poisson's equations, dielectrics, electrostatic and magnetostatic fields, Ampere's law, Faraday's law, and Maxwell's equations.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHY 404LEC Electricity and Magnetism II
    Lecture

    Undertakes further study of Maxwell's equations, electric and magnetic susceptibilities, electromagnetic radiation, electromagnetic fields from a moving charge, waveguides and transmission lines, Poynting's vector, and Lorentz force. Also examines relativistic invariance.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 403
  • PHY 405LEC Thermal and Statistical Physics I
    Lecture

    Explores statistics and statistical description of particles; statistical and macroscopic thermodynamics; basic results of classical statistical mechanics and connections with thermodynamics; microcanonical, canonical, and grand canonical ensembles; applications to ideal gases, paramagnets, and lattice vibrations; kinetic theory; and phase equilibrium of one-component systems.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHY 406LEC Thermal and Statistical Physics II
    Lecture

    Covers quantum statistics of ideal Bose and Fermi systems, applications to electrons in metals, blackbody radiation, Bose condensation, neutron stars, interacting systems, lattice vibrations, nonideal gases, ferromagnets, kinetic theory of transport processes, irreversible processes, and fluctuations.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 407LAB Advanced Laboratory
    Laboratory

    Covers modern physics, with a choice of experiments: atomic physics, modern laser optics, solid state, magnetic resonance, X-ray diffraction, scanning probe microscopy, nuclear, or particle physics. Two four-hour labs each week.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Prerequisites: PHY 307 and PHY 401
  • PHY 408LAB Advanced Laboratory
    Laboratory

    Covers modern physics, with a choice of experiments: atomic physics, modern laser optics, solid state, magnetic resonance, X-ray diffraction, scanning probe microscopy, nuclear, or particle physics. Two four-hour labs each week.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 307 and PHY 401
  • PHY 410LEC Computational Physics I
    Lecture

    Examines numerical solutions of problems in dynamics, electrodynamics, and quantum and statistical physics. Also examines root-finding, numerical differentiation, quadrature, matrix inversion, and ordinary differential equations. Studies structured programming in FORTRAN 90, C++, or Java; and explores Computer graphics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: CSE 115;
    Corequisites: PHY 401
  • PHY 411LEC Computational Physics II
    Lecture

    More advanced physics problems involving partial differential equations. Numerical simulation and Monte Carlo methods, data analysis and fast Fourier transforms, use of mathematical library routines and computer algebra programs.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 410
  • PHY 412LEC Nuclear and Particle Physics
    Lecture

    Explores fundamentals of nuclear physics, including interaction of radiation with matter; properties of nuclear forces; nuclear structure described by shell and collective models; nuclear reactions; radioactive decay processes; and properties of elementary particles.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 413LAB Electronics
    Laboratory

    Introduces basic concepts of circuit design, impedance, and feedback systems; solid-state components; integrated circuits; digital circuits; and basic instrumentation.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 413LEC Electronics
    Lecture

    Introduces basic concepts of circuit design, impedance, and feedback systems; solid-state components; integrated circuits; digital circuits; and basic instrumentation.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 414TUT Experimental Techniques
    Tutorial

    Involves individual work with faculty in a research laboratory.

    Credits: 2 - 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • PHY 415TUT Experimental Techniques
    Tutorial

    Involves individual work with faculty in a research laboratory.

    Credits: 2 - 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 425LEC Intermediate Optics
    Lecture

    Examines geometrical and physical optics. Explores diffraction, interference, polarization, and other wave properties of light; and the quantum nature of light and lasers.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • PHY 431LEC Mathematical Physics I
    Lecture

    Fundamentals of mathematical physics. Includes linear and operator algebra, multiple integrals, Fourier series and transforms, calculus of variations, special functions, and partial differential equations. Focuses on specific applications in classical dynamics, quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, and fluid dynamics.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
    Prerequisites: MTH 417 and MTH 418
  • PHY 434LEC Solid State Physics
    Lecture

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
    Prerequisites: PHY 401 and PHY 405
  • PHY 480LEC Special Topics in Physics
    Lecture

    Topics of interest that are not regularly covered in other courses.

    Credits: 1 - 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHY 497TUT Honors
    Tutorial

    For students who wish to do a senior thesis. Consult the undergraduate director for details.

    Credits: 1 - 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHY 498TUT Undergraduate Research
    Tutorial

    Allows students to earn credit for research activities under the direction of a physics faculty member.

    Credits: 1 - 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • PHY 499TUT Independent Study in Physics
    Tutorial

    Involves individual study arranged between a student and a faculty member. Not restricted to students with professional goals in technical areas.

    Credits: 1 - 4
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
Published: November 16, 2017 08:33:09 AM