Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHYS*4500)

Code and section: PHYS*4500*01

Term: Fall 2015

Instructor: De-Tong Jiang


Course Information

Calendar Description

This is a modular course for students in any physics-related major in which the techniques of nuclear, solid state and molecular physics will be studied.

Prerequisite Course: PHYS*2460 and PHYS*2470


The course allows the students to perform some basic physics experiments that illustrate topics discussed in the third and fourth year lecture courses. The students will obtain experience using modern laboratory instruments and practice methods of data acquisition and analysis. The student’s ability to keep an accurate and complete laboratory notebook and to write technical laboratory reports will be developed.


Instructor Office Extension Email
De-Tong Jiang MacNaughton 223 53982

Office Hours: by appointment

Teaching Assistant Office Extension Email
Zachary Arthur MacNaughton 020B 58564

Office Hours: by appointment

Laboratory Supervisor Office Extension Email
Dave Urbshas MacNaughton 104 53995

Lab Times

Day Time Location
Mondays & Wednesdays 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm MacNaughton 417

Course Materials


No textbook required for this course.


There is no midterm or final exam for this course

Course Website

Outlines for all experiments and additional relevant information will be available on the course link website. Students are required to have prepared in advance before attempting any experiment. Reading the course outlines and identifying what data must be collected is the student’s responsibility before arriving at the lab.

Student Assessment

Assessment Weight
Lab Notebooks 35%
Formal Lab Reports 60%
Lab Performance 5%

The Lab Performance component of each student’s final grade will be based on the following factors

  • Whether students prepare in advance of conducting their experiments
  • How effectively they manage their laboratory time
  • How capable they are at working through problems encountered through the regular performance of the experiments
  • Whether students have obeyed lab safety procedures

For all submitted work, a penalty of 10% per day will be applied to any late work. Work submitted more than one week after the due date will not be accepted.

Students who miss a laboratory or who cannot hand in a lab report or their notebook on a scheduled day due to medical circumstances or personal emergencies should speak with the course instructor as soon as possible to determine what allowances can be made.


During the first week of classes, there will be mandatory lectures on radioactivity (Domenico Barillari, Environmental Health and Safety) and laboratory safety (David Atkinson, Department of Physics). Students cannot proceed in the course without having attended both of these lectures. If the student has already received these lectures as a part of PHYS*3510, then they are not required to re-take them.

Depending on the number of enrollment in this course, we may ask the students to split into two equal groups, group A and group B. Those in group A will begin experiments in Week 2 and will have one week to complete the data collection for that experiment. Students in group B will then have access to the equipment in week 3, for one week. The two groups will alternate in this fashion throughout the semester with group A doing experiment during the even weeks and group B doing experiment during the odd weeks. All experiments should be completed by week 11. The labs will be open all day every week-day.

The teaching assistant and course instructor will be available during regularly scheduled lab time and will each set aside some office hours to consult with students.

Each student will be required to do 5 of the labs listed below:

Modern Physics:

  1. Electron Spin Resonance
  2. Millikan Oil Drop Experiment

Nuclear Physics:

  1. Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy using a NaI(Tl) Detector
  2. High-Resolution Gamma-Ray Spectroscopy (Contact the Instructor/TA for availability)
  3. The Speed of Photon: Galileo’s Technique Modernized.

Solid State Physics:

  1. Superconductivity of Sn (Done in groups of 6)
  2. X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy using the Canadian Light Source (scheduled by the instructor depending on demands and beamtime availability)
  3. X-ray Diffraction
  4. The Hall Effect (Contact the Instructor/TA for availability)

Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics:

  1. Noise Fundamentals

Waves and Optics:

  1. The Velocity of Sound: The Debye-Sears Experiment
  2. The Transmission Line
  3. Fourier Optics

Lab Scheduling

Students will work in groups of two, and will use the sign-up sheet to indicate what labs they intend to do the following week. The sign-up sheet will be posted in the laboratory. Please ensure that this is done every week so that Dave Urbshas can ensure that the required equipment is ready for you. Labs will be assigned a first-come, first-served basis.

Submitted Work

Students will be required to keep a careful record of the procedures and results in a hard-bound lab book (no loose leaf). This is common laboratory practice, the purpose being to enable the research to refer at any later time to his/her lab books for any detail which he/she may have forgotten about how and when the measurements were performed. A good lab book contains enough detail that the research can reconstruct everything that was done. A description of the set up is required as well as a description of procedures used. All the raw data obtained needs to be included in the lab book. Preliminary analysis of the results should also be entered there.

For two of the labs, each student is required to write a more detailed, formal lab report in the style used for scientific research publications. Thus, each of these papers will include:

  • I. Title Page – explains lab that was completed, authors and date
  • II. Abstract – briefly summarizes experiment and what was observed
  • III. Instruction – describes the experiment performed and any relevant background material
  • IV. Materials and Methods – describes the experimental detail
  • V. Results and Discussion – presents the data and its interpretation using tables, graphs and figures wherever appropriate
  • VI. Conclusion – briefly summarizes what was done and suggest future work that might be usefully performed
  • VII. References – lists primary sources, most notably journal articles and books that were referenced in the report. Web-sites frequently disappear and/or are changed without notice and are therefore not considered acceptable references. Wikipedia and Hyperphysics are good starting points, but are not acceptable primary sources. The lab outlines are a good starting point, but students are expected to reference primary sources suitable to the particular experiment.

For the second formal lab, each group is required to submit a scientific poster, a format commonly used in the scientific community to communicate research results. Poster templates will be made available to students and the poster will include all the same section as the formal lab reports with the exception of the title page and abstract. Note that some labs are more ideal for formal lab reports or poster presentations. Consult with your instructor or teaching assistant for suggestions.

Important Dates

Week Dates Activity/Assignment
Week 1 (Sept. 14 – 18) Introduction & Laboratory / Radiation Safety
Week 2 (Sept. 21 – 25) Group A Experiment #1
Week 3 (Sept. 28 – Oct. 2) Group B Experiment #1
Group A Lab Notebook for Experiment #1
Due Mon., Sept. 28th
Week 4 (Oct. 5 – 9) Group A Experiment #2
Group B Lab Notebook for Experiment #1
Due Mon., Oct. 5th
Week 5 (Oct. 12 – 16) * Group B Experiment #2
Group A Lab Notebook for Experiment #2
Due Wed., Oct. 14th
Week 6 (Oct. 19 – 23) Group A Experiment #3
Group A Formal Lab #1 (Scientific Paper)
Due Wed., Oct. 21st
Group B Lab Notebook for Experiment #2
Due Wed., Oct. 21st
Week 7 (Oct. 26 – 30) Group B Experiment #3
Group B Formal Lab #1 (Scientific Paper)
Due Wed., Oct. 28th
Group A Lab Notebook for Experiment #3
Due Mon., Oct. 26th
Week 8 (Nov. 2 – 6) ** Group A Experiment #4
Group A Formal Lab #2 (Scientific Poster)
Due Mon.Nov. 2nd
Group B Lab Notebook for Experiment #3
Due Monday, Nov. 2nd
Week 9 (Nov. 9 – 13) Group B Experiment #4
Group B Formal Lab #2 (Scientific Poster)
Due Monday, Nov. 9th
Group A Lab Notebook for Experiment #4
Due Monday, Nov. 9th
Week 10 (Nov. 16 – 20) Group A Experiment #5
Group B Lab Notebook for Experiment #4
Due Monday, Nov. 16th
Week 11 (Nov. 23 – 27) Group B Experiment #5
Group A Formal Lab #3 (Scientific Paper) & Lab Notebook for Experiment #5
Due Monday, Nov. 23rd
Week 12 (Nov. 30 – Dec. 4) Group B Formal Lab #3 (Scientific Paper) & Lab Notebook for Experiment #5
Due Mon., Nov. 30th
Group A & B Poster Presentation / Course Wrap-up on Wed., Dec. 2nd

Note: All material is due by the end of class (5:30 p.m.) on the Monday of the weeks mentioned above.
*Note: This is the week following Thanksgiving, there are two days off this year, Oct. 12 for the holiday and Oct. 13 for a Fall study break.
**Note: Last day to drop course without academic penalty (Friday, Nov. 6)

Course Policies

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Laboratory Procedures

  • As with all research and teaching laboratories at the University of Guelph, absolutely no food or drink is permitted in the laboratory, regardless of whether a laboratory is currently in progress or not!
  • To comply with the University of Guelph’s laboratory safety regulations, experiments are to be performed during the scheduled laboratory hours. The laboratory will be available for approved students from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Monday – Friday), and until 5:30 p.m. on scheduled lab days. A list of students that have been approved for entry in MacNaughton 417 will be posted on the lab doors. Students who are not on this list are not authorized to be in the laboratory unless approved by the course instructor.
  • Fire regulations require that the door linking MacNaughton 417 to MacNaughton 422 remains closed.
  • Work on a given experiment often extends over several laboratory sessions. You must have a card marked Experiment in Progress clearly displayed at a particular apparatus or the experiment will be reset for the next user. A supply of cards will be available in the lab – take one for your use throughout the semester.
  • Under no circumstance should a student begin an experiment requiring radioactive sources without first consulting with the teaching assistant or course instructor. Radioactive sources are locked in a lead-lined box in MacNaughton 417. The instructor or teaching assistant will unlock this box upon request during laboratory hours. The box must be locked at all other times. Should you require a source for an overnight run, your experiment must be posted with a radioactive warning sign provided in the box.

Course Assessment

The Department of Physics requires student assessment of all courses taught by the Department. These assessments provide essential feedback to faculty on their teaching by identifying both strengths and possible areas of improvement. In addition, annual student assessment of teaching provides part of the information used by the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee in evaluating the faculty member’s contribution in the area of teaching.

The Department’s teaching evaluation questionnaire invites student response both through numerically quantifiable data, and written student comments. In conformity with University Guelph Faculty Policy, the Department Tenure and Promotion Committee only considers comments signed by students (choosing “I agree” in question14). Your instructor will see all signed and unsigned comments after final grades are submitted. Written student comments may also be used in support of a nomination for internal and external teaching awards.

Note: No information will be passed on to the instructor until after the final grades have been submitted.