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Teaching Labs

Our department believes in giving students a wide variety of introductory laboratory experiences. Physics and astrophysics majors perform more than 40 different hands-on experiments in the laboratory in the first two years of their program.

Students work with:

  • Basic instruments such as calipers and thermometers
  • Intermediate instruments such as thermocouples, Geiger counters and oscilloscopes
  • Sophisticated instruments such as optical pyrometers, x-ray spectrometers and pulse height analyzers

These experiments give students practical experience in:

  • Classical linear and rotational mechanics
  • Complex systems
  • Data analysis
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Thermal and atomic physics
  • Vibrations and waves

The senior lab allows for third and fourth year students to perform selected advanced experiments. A list of advanced topics can be found below. Where possible, students may choose experiments most suited to their interests. The senior lab is less structured and can overlap with the independent study courses. The lessons are geared to providing undergraduate students with practical, realistic preparation for their future careers.

Advanced topics:

  • Speed of light
  • North-seeking gyro
  • Cosmic-ray telescope
  • Charge-to-mass of electron
  • Laser light He, Ne
  • Boltzmann's k, e- of electron from noise
  • Michelson interferometer/FFT spectroscopy
  • Super conducting quantum interference device
  • Zeeman effect
  • Ramsauer-Townsend effect
  • Absorption nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Evanescent wave/frustrated total internal reflection
  • Gamma-ray high resolution spectroscopy
  • Mössbauer effect
  • Lifetime of cosmic ray muon
  • Microwave generation/waveguides
  • Farraday effect/e- of electron
  • Balmer's series/Rydberg constant
  • Kerr effect
  • Photoelectric effect/Planck's constant
  • Thermionic emission/optical pyrometer
  • High vacuum techniques
  • Optical fourier transform
  • Frank-Hertz experiment
  • Drift mobility in germanium
  • Rubidium absorption laser spectroscopy
  • EKG/EMG bio-electricity
  • High temperature superconductivity
  • Langmiuer's probe in plasma
  • Neutron activation
  • Pulsed nuclear magnetic resonance
  • Semiconductor PN junctions
  • Microwave propagation through layered media
  • Free-induced magnetic proton resonance
  • Single-photon down-conversion/entangled photons
  • Complexity

PHYS 598 and 599 are required of all students graduating from honours or majors bachelor’s programs in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Students must find a supervisor within the department and obtain departmental consent before enrolling. For more information, visit the independent study page.

The department operates a 48-node computer cluster designated specifically for undergraduate physics and astronomy students. All physics and astrophysics majors receive an account on the cluster and may use it for their course work and projects.

Each cluster node comes installed with more than 4000 different software packages covering all aspects of computer use.

A full suite of scientific tools are provided for:

  • Data analysis
  • Numerical computation
  • Scientific visualization
  • Serial and parallel programming in multiple computer languages
  • Symbolic algebra

The standard industrial tools including IDL, Macsyma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab are also provided. Use of this cluster for computational physics is taught to all physics and astrophysics majors as a part of their curriculum.