PHSX 444 Advanced Physics Laboratory Autumn 2015

Instructor: Paul Janzen
Office: CHCB 010
Office hours: MT 11:00 - 12:00, W 2:00 - 5:00, and by appointment
Phone: 243-2374
Text: Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences by Philip R. Bevington & D. Keith Robinson.
Lecture: Mondays 3:10-5:00 PM in CHCB 012
Lab: Tues 1:10-4:30 PM or Thurs 1:10-4:30 PM


Advanced experiments in classical and modern physics, including optics; spectroscopy; laser science; atomic, nuclear, and particle physics; and data collection and reduction techniques for experimental scientists. This course is recommended for students entering graduate school in any experimental science.


PHSX 343 (Modern Physics) or equivalent, PHSX 327 (Optics) or equivalent; PHSX 323 (Intermediate Physics Lab) strongly suggested but not quite required. Students may not audit this class.


Each week, Monday will be dedicated to a lecture on one or more laboratory experiments you will be asked to perform. Methods of data reduction and error analysis will also be covered.

Laboratory Experiments:

Weekly labs will be performed on Tuesdays or Thursdays, with students working in groups. Labs will be carried out in rotations of two. Over the course of the semester, students will perform seven labs for which formal reports will be required. Six lab sessions, such as those involving programming, will be evaluated based on answers to questions included in the lab hand-out. Students are expected to maintain a quadrille-ruled notebook in which all experiment notes and hand-recorded data should be written.

It is expected that students will arrive to the lab sessions prepared to begin work, having read the outlines and started any necessary research ahead of time.

Data analysis will be performed in Python.

Laboratory Reports:

A formal typeset report is required for seven labs. Each report must include an abstract, theoretical background, any necessary diagrams of the apparatus, a description of the experimental procedure, data tables, data analysis and discussion, and conclusions. Computer analysis of data is generally required; many labs will require detailed error analysis. Although students will work in groups to set up the experiments and to collect data, the analysis and the text of each report is to be done individually.

For the seven labs requiring formal reports, the reports are due two weeks after the conclusion of the lab. A brief analysis of the data is due sooner (the Friday following a Tuesday lab, or the Monday following a Thursday lab) and will be graded and returned prior to the due date of the formal report.

Programming lab work should be finished during the lab session, or at most within one day. ``Q & A'' labs are due one week after the lab session and do not require a prior brief analysis.

Any homework assigned in a Monday lecture will be due by 5:00 pm that Friday. A 5% per day fee will be assessed for late work.


Formal Lab Reports: 45%
Preliminary Data Analysis: 15%
``Q&A'' Labs: 30%
Homework: 10%

Tentative Course Outline

Week Week of Laboratory Topic
1 - 2 Aug 31 - Sep 10 Laser modes / Thermal laser
3 Sep 14 - 17 Python programming 1
4 Sep 21 - 24 TBD: Poisson statistics? Helmholtz coils? e/m?
5 Sep 23 - Oct 1 Python and curve fitting
6 - 7 Oct 5 - 15 Compton scattering / Fresnel
8 - 9 Oct 19 - 29 Spectroscopy 1 (Balmer, isotope) / SQUID
10 - 11 Nov 2 - 12 Spectroscopy 2 (Zeeman) / Rb hyperfine
12 Nov 16 - 19 TBD
13 Nov 23 - 24 Labview 1
14 Nov 30 - Dec 3 Labview 2 / PID control

Learning Outcomes:

In completing this course, it is expected that the student:


All students must practise academic honesty. Academic misconduct is subject to an academic penalty by the course instructor and/or disciplinary sanction by the University. All students need to be familiar with the Student Conduct Code. The Code is available for review online at

Students with disabilities may request reasonable modifications by contacting me. The University of Montana assures equal access to instruction through collaboration between students with disabilities, instructors, and Disability Services for Students. ``Reasonable'' means the University permits no fundamental alterations of academic standards or retroactive modifications.

This document was generated using the LaTeX2HTML translator Version 2008 (1.71) and then hand editing. LaTeX2HTML is copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, Nikos Drakos, Computer Based Learning Unit, University of Leeds.
Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999, Ross Moore, Mathematics Department, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Paul Janzen 2015-08-31