Institute of Astronomy

Part II Statistical Physics

Further information about this course is available on the Department of Mathematics course pages. Examples papers are available on the DAMTP Examples page.

Lent Term, 24 lectures – Dr C.E. Thomas

Fundamentals of statistical mechanics

Microcanonical ensemble. Entropy, temperature and pressure. Laws of thermodynamics. Example

of paramagnetism. Boltzmann distribution and canonical ensemble. Partition function. Free energy.

Specific heats. Chemical potential. Grand Canonical Ensemble. [5]

Classical gases

Density of states and the classical limit. Ideal gas. Maxwell distribution. Equipartition of energy.

Diatomic gas. Interacting gases. Virial expansion. Van der Waals equation of state. Basic kinetic

theory. [3]

Quantum gases

Density of states. Planck distribution and black body radiation. Debye model of phonons in solids.

Bose-Einstein distribution. Ideal Bose gas and Bose-Einstein condensation. Fermi-Dirac distribution.

Ideal Fermi gas. Pauli paramagnetism. [8]


Thermodynamic temperature scale. Heat and work. Carnot cycle. Applications of laws of thermodynamics.

Thermodynamic potentials. Maxwell relations. [4]

Phase transitions

Liquid-gas transitions. Critical point and critical exponents. Ising model. Mean field theory. First and second order phase transitions. Symmetries and order parameters. [4]


Appropriate books

F. Mandl Statistical Physics. Wiley 1988

R.K. Pathria Statistical Mechanics, 2nd ed. Butterworth-Heinemann 1996

L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz Statistical Physics, Part 1 (Course of Theoretical Physics volume 5).

Butterworth-Heinemann 1996

F. Reif Fundamentals of Thermal and Statistical Physics. McGraw-Hill 1965

A.B. Pippard Elements of Classical Thermodynamics. Cambridge University Press, 1957

K. Huang Introduction to Statistical Physics. Taylor and Francis 2001


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