Skip to main content

PHYS 143A Honors Waves, Optics, & Heat

Quick links: Textbook    Canvas    Piazza    LabWiki  2021Videos

Class Notes: Lec.1-3 Lec. 4-7 Lec. 89 Lec.1011 a Lec.1213 Lec.14

HWs and Midterm: HW1 HW2  HW3 MT HW4 HW5

Solutions: HW1Sol HW2Sol HW3Sol MTSol MTDis

Math topics (optional): General ODE  Fourier Integral

Physics topics (optional): Wave Equation by Dr. Tao Tuned Mass Damper

Instructor:      Cheng Chin

  Lectures:    MWF 9:30‐10:20 am @ KPTC120

  Office hours:   MW 5-6 pm @ GCIS E107

Textbooks:  Waves by David Morin

Laboratory administrators:  Mark ChantellDave McCowan

Teaching and Lab Assistant: Ruchira Mishra  Jinwei Chu  Daniel Glazer  Sharba Bhattacharjee

 Discussion sessions (starting week 2): Tuesdays 6:30 to 7:20 pm @ Cobb 107

 Please email Ruchira for an office hour appointment. 

Homeworks, Midterm and Final:

All homeworks should be submitted to Canvas in the format of pdf before the deadline. They will be returned to the students on Canvas. Late policy for HWs and Lab reports: -10% per day. Midterm and Final will be in class. 

Lab and Lab Reports (starting week 3)
Students will meet for in person labs (2 hours 50 minutes) once per week beginning in Week 3. 
Students will work in-lab in groups of 3 and will keep a group electronic lab notebook; this will be submitted electronically at the end of each lab session.  Students will also submit a short individual “summary" after each lab that involves summarizing their results and drawing conclusions; this will be due online 24 hours after the end of the lab session.
If a student misses a lab due to an excused absence and cannot make it up that same week, we have one make-up assignment (not linked on the website). This assignment is a completely remote lab task that can be graded to provide the points missed by the lab absence.  There is no mechanism for making up more than one missed lab during the quarter.

Grade distribution:   HWs 35%, Lab 25%, Midterm 20% and Final 20%

Class outline

Week Date Lecture Text/Lab
1 3/18

Lecture 1: Harmonic oscillator

Simple harmonic oscillator

(Math) Ordinary Differential Equation (ODE) and complex number

Chapter 1.1

Lecture 2: Damped harmonic oscillator

(Math) Solving non-homogeneous ODEs

Chapter 1.2

Lecture 3: Driven oscillator 

Amplitude and phase

Chapter 1.3
2 3/25

Lecture 4: Coupled oscillators

Two coupled oscillators

Chapter 2.1 and 2.2

Lecture 5: Normal modes

Three coupled oscillators

N coupled oscillators

(Math) Eigenvalues and eigenvectors

Chapter 2.3


  3/29 Lecture 6: Normal modes Deadline to change lab section (
3 4/01 Lecture 7: Wave equation

Chapter 2.4

Lab: Wave Motion and Sound


Lecture 8: Spectral Analysis

(Math) Fourier expansion and Fourier transform 

Chapter 3.1, 3.2, 3.3



Lecture 9: Spectral Analysis

Solving wave equation



4 4/08 Midterm Lab: Interference
  4/10 Lecture 10: Transverse waves Chapter 4.1

Lecture 11: Reflection and transmission


Chapter 4.2
5 4/15 Lecture 12: Longitudinal waves: Sound

Chapter 5.1, 5.2, 5.3

Lab: Diffraction


Lecture 13: Electromagneitc waves

EM wave equation


Chapter 8.2

Lecture 14: Electromagneitc waves

(Math) Vector calculus

Chapter 8.3, 8.4
6 4/22

Lecture 15: Wave phenomena

Dispersion, Doppler effect and Shock waves

Chapter 6.3, 7.2

Lab: Geometric Optics


Lecture 16: Geometrical Optics

Interface and lens equation

Applications of geometric optics

Chapter 8.6, 8.8

Lecture 17: Interference 

What is light?

Optical interference

Chapter 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 9.4, 9.5
7 4/29

Lecture 18: Diffraction

Double slit diffraction

Lab: Polarization

Lecture 19: Diffraction

Single slit diffraction


Lecture 19: Ideal gas 

Kinetic theory of ideal gas

8 5/6

Lecture 20: Heat engines

Thermodynamics processes

Carnot cycle

Lab: Thin film interference

Lecture 21: Laws of thermodynamics

Laws of thermodynamics

  5/10 Lecture 22: Entropy   
9 5/13

Lecture 23: Heat transfer

Heat transfer


Lecture 24: Thermal distribution

Boltzmann distribution

  5/17 Lecture 25: Modern topics  
10 5/22 Final 10am-12pm @ KPTC 120  (KPTC 211)