Institute of Astronomy

Part II Statistical Physics

Statistical Physics 

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

Further information about this course is available on the Department of Mathematics course pages.

Examples papers are available on the DAMTP Examples page. 

  1. 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] 

  1. 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] 

  1. 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] 

  1. Thermodynamics: Thermodynamic temperature scale. Heat and work. Carnot cycle. Applications of laws of thermodynamics. Thermodynamic potentials. Maxwell relations. [4] 

  1. 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] 


Recommended Reading 

  • 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 
  • M. Kardar Statistical Physics of Particles. CUP 2007. (See also course 8.333, MIT OpenCourseWare
  • 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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