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Physics Courses

Department of Physics
College of Arts and Sciences

Multipurpose Classroom Facility, Room MP 420
Phone: (208) 426-3775
Fax: (208) 426-4330
physics.boisestate.edu
E-mail: physics@boisestate.edu

Chair and Professor: C. B. Hanna. Distinguished Professor: Alex Punnoose. Professors: Byung Kim, Dmitri Tenne. Associate Professors: Daryl Macomb & Daniel Fologea. Assistant Professors: Matthew Ferguson, Brian Jackson, Paul Simmonds. Lecturers: James Brennan, Aaron Sup, Tiffany Watkins, Richie Youngworth, .

Degrees Offered

  • • Bachelor of Science in Physics
    • Applied Physics Emphasis
    • Astrophysics Emphasis
    • Biophysics Emphasis
    • Secondary Education Emphasis
  • • Minor in Physics
  • • Minor in Physical Science Teaching Endorsement
  • • Minor in Physics Teaching Endorsement

Department Statement

Physics is the study of matter, motion, force, and energy – from the very small (quarks) to the very large (the universe), and every length scale in between, including the rich variety of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. Physics draws from and inspires developments in mathematics, and underlies the modern understanding (the “why”) of astronomy, chemistry, geophysics, engineering, and technology. During their studies, physics majors at Boise State University also have opportunities to do physics, by engaging in physics or astronomy research projects with faculty in the areas of nanoscience, biophysics, condensed-matter physics, computational physics and astronomy. In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of how the world works, physics majors develop skills of observation, analysis, model-building, and problem-solving that lead to success in a broad variety of careers in industry, government, law, education, and the professions, such as law and medicine.

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Physics at Boise State University is built around a core of physics, science, mathematics, and humanities courses that provide students with a broad and balanced foundation for additional coursework in advanced or applied physics, or for interdisciplinary emphasis areas. The following optional emphases are offered for the B.S. Physics degree: Applied Physics (nanomaterials), Biophysics (molecular and cellular), and Secondary Education (teaching).

Degree Requirements

Physics, Bachelor of Science 
Course Number and TitleCredits
Foundational Studies Program requirements indicated in bold.
ENGL 101 Introduction to College Writing3
ENGL 102 Intro to College Writing and Research3
UF 100 Intellectual Foundations3
UF 200Civic and Ethical Foundations3
DLM MATH 170 Calculus I4
DLN PHYS 211, 211L Physics I with Calculus & Lab5
DLN PHYS 212, 212L Physics II with Calculus & Lab5
DLV Visual and Performing Arts3
DLL Literature and Humanities3-4
DLS ED-CIFS 201 Foundations of Education (Secondary Education Emphasis) or
DLS Social Sciences course in a first field
3
DLS Social Sciences course in a second field3
CHEM 111, 111L-112, 112L General Chemistry I & II & Labs8
MATH 175 Calculus II4
MATH 275 Multivariable and Vector Calculus4
MATH 301 Introduction to Linear Algebra3
MATH 333 Differential Equations with Matrix Theory4
CID PHYS 301 Analog and Digital Electronics4
PHYS 309, 309L Introductory Quantum Physics & Lab4
PHYS 311 Modern Physics3
PHYS 325 Scientific Computing4
PHYS 330, 330L Optics and Lab or PHYS 382 Electrodynamics4
PHYS 341 Mechanics4
PHYS 381 Electromagnetic Theory4
PHYS 432 Thermal Physics4
FF PHYS 499 Physics Seminar1
In addition, complete either the following coursework to graduate with a B.S. in Physics (without an emphasis) or complete the courses listed under one of the emphases below to graduate with a B.S. in Physics with an emphasis.
Must choose PHYS 382 Electrodynamics from above
PHYS 412 Intermediate Quantum Mechanics4
Choose one course from the following
PHYS 307 Introduction to Biophysics
PHYS 330, 330L Optics and Lab
PHYS 405 Astrophysics
PHYS 415 Solid State Physics
PHYS 423 Physical Methods of Materials Characterization
PHYS 436 Soft Matter
3-4
Electives to total 120 credits18-20
Total120
Applied Physics Emphasis
ENGR 245, 245L Intro to Materials Science & Engineering & Lab4
MSE 305 Structure of Materials3
MSE 308 Thermodynamics of Materials or
MSE 310 Electrical Properties of Materials
3
PHYS 415 Solid State Physics3
PHYS 423 Physical Methods of Materials Characterization3
Electives to total 120 credits10-11
Total120
Astrophysics Emphasis
PHYS 204 Planetary Astronomy4
PHYS 205 Stellar Astronomy4
PHYS 405 Astrophysics3
PHYS 406 Cosmology3
Electives to total 120 credits12-13
Total120
Biophysics Emphasis
BIOL 191 General Biology I4
BIOL 301 Cell Biology3
CHEM 301-302 Survey of Organic Chemistry & Lab or CHEM 307, 308 Organic Chemistry I & Lab5
CHEM 350 Fundamentals of Biochemistry3
PHYS 307 Introduction to Biophysics4
PHYS 436 Soft Matter3
Electives to total 120 credits4-5
Total120
Secondary Education Emphasis
STEM-ED 101 Step 1: Inquiry Approaches to Teaching1
STEM-ED 102 Step 2: Inquiry-based Lesson Design1
STEM-ED 210 Knowing and Learning in Mathematics & Science3
STEM-ED 220 Perspectives on Science and Mathematics3
STEM-ED 310 Classroom Interactions3
STEM-ED 350 Research Methods3
STEM-ED 410 Project-based Instruction3
STEM-ED 480 Apprentice Teaching6
PHYS 104 Planets and Astrobiology or
PHYS 105 Stars and Cosmology
4
Total120-121

Physics Minor 
Course Number and TitleCredits
PHYS 211, 211L Physics I with Calculus & Lab (Math or other prerequisite)5
PHYS 212, 212L Physics II with Calculus & Lab5
PHYS 309, 309L Introductory Quantum Physics & Lab (Math or other prerequisite)4
Upper-division physics courses (Maximum 3 credits of Special Topics)
Excluding PHYS 395, PHYS 495, PHYS 499, independent study (496), and special topics (397, 497).
6
Total20

Physical Science Teaching Endorsement Minor 
Course Number and TitleCredits
CHEM 111, 111L-112, 112L General Chemistry I & II & Labs8
CHEM 211, 212 Analytical Chemistry I & Lab5
PHYS 104 Planets and Astrobiology or
PHYS 105 Stars and Cosmology
4
PHYS 111-112 General Physics8
Total25
This Teaching Endorsement Minor does not certify you to teach. For more information on becoming a teacher please contact the Office of Teacher Education.

Physics Teaching Endorsement Minor 
Course Number and TitleCredits
PHYS 211, 211L Physics I with Calculus & Lab5
PHYS 212, 212L Physics II with Calculus & Lab5
PHYS 301 Analog and Digital Electronics or
PHYS 325 Scientific Computing or
PHYS 330, 330L Optics and Lab
4
PHYS 309, 309L Introductory Quantum Physics & Lab4
PHYS 311 Modern Physics or
PHYS 432 Thermal Physics
3-4
Total21-22
This Teaching Endorsement Minor does not certify you to teach. For more information on becoming a teacher please contact the Office of Teacher Education.

Course Offerings

PHYS – Physics
PHYSICS LABORATORY FEES: A $50 laboratory fee is charged to all students enrolling in a physics course with an associated laboratory or a physics laboratory.

Lower Division
PHYS 101 INTRODUCTION TO PHYSICS (3-2-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN). A broad survey of basic physics concepts and principles including motion, energy, electricity, magnetism, light, relativity, atoms, fission and fusion. Some examples will be related to social applications. A one-semester core course that uses some basic algebra.

PHYS 104 PLANETS AND ASTROBIOLOGY (3-2-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN). Emphasis is on our solar system, the origin of chemical abundances, and astronomical requirements for the development of life; extra-solar planetary systems, and the search for life in the universe. Requires evening labs and/or planetarium visits.

PHYS 105 STARS AND COSMOLOGY (3-2-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN). An exploration of star formation and evolution, black holes, galaxies, and cosmology. Explores how the ideas of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, and others form our understanding of the universe. Requires evening labs and/or planetarium visits.

PHYS 106 RADIATION PHYSICS (2-0-2)(S). Fundamental concepts involving electricity, magnetism, formation of electromagnetic radiation and radioactivity. Includes basic circuitry of x-ray machine and introduction to radiation dose. PREREQ: Acceptance into radiologic sciences program or PERM/INST.

PHYS 111-112 GENERAL PHYSICS (3-3-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN). Mechanics, sound, heat, light, magnetism and electricity. This course satisfies the science requirement for the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science curricula and may be taken by forestry, pre-dental and pre-medical students. Recommended background: high school physics or PHYS 101. PREREQ: for PHYS 111: MATH 144 or MATH 147 or satisfactory placement score into MATH 170. PREREQ: for PHYS 112: PHYS 111.

PHYS 125 PHYSICS SYMPOSIUM (1-0-1)(F). Topics in current areas of student interest in physics and related disciplines, introduction to the physics department, degrees, and faculty, to physics degree requirements for graduation, and to jobs and graduate school. Intended for physics majors and prospective majors.

PHYS 119 LABORATORY ONLY (0-V-1)(F/S). For transfer students who need a laboratory experience to gain DLN lab credit for a lecture-only PHYS course taken elsewhere but includes a weekly 2 or 3 hour lab at Boise State. (Pass/Fail.) PREREQ: PERM/INST.

PHYS 204 PLANETARY ASTRONOMY (3-3-4)(F). Emphasis is on astronomical coordinate systems, Newtonian gravity and planetary motion, contents and evolution of our solar system, the nature and discovery of extrasolar planetary systems, the astronomical requirements for the development of life, and the search for life in the universe. Requires evening labs and/or planetarium visits. Credit cannot be given for both PHYS 104 and PHYS 204. PREREQ: MATH 143 and MATH 144.

PHYS 205 STELLAR ASTRONOMY (3-3-4)(S). An exploration of the physics of star formation, stellar evolution, black holes, galaxies, large-scale structure of the universe, and cosmology. Requires evening labs and/or planetarium visits. Credit cannot be given for both PHYS 105 and PHYS 205. PREREQ: MATH 143 and MATH 144.

PHYS 211 PHYSICS I WITH CALCULUS (4-1-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN with PHYS 211L). Kinematics, dynamics of particles, statics, momentum, rotational motion, gravitation, introductory wave motion, heat and thermodynamics. Recommended background: high school physics or PHYS 101. PREREQ: MATH 144. COREQ: MATH 170, PHYS 211L.

PHYS 211L PHYSICS I WITH CALCULUS LAB (0-3-1)(F,S,SU)(DLN with PHYS 211). Lab to be taken with PHYS 211. Basic experiments in mechanics, wave motion, and heat. COREQ: PHYS 211.

PHYS 212 PHYSICS II WITH CALCULUS (4-1-4)(F,S,SU)(DLN with PHYS 212L). Coulombs law, fields, potential, magnetism, induced emf, simple circuits, geometrical optics, interference, diffraction, and polarization. PREREQ: MATH 170, PHYS 211. COREQ: MATH 175, PHYS 212L.

PHYS 212L PHYSICS II WITH CALCULUS LAB (0-3-1)(F,S,SU)(DLN with PHYS 212). Lab to be taken concurrently with PHYS 212. Basic experiments in electricity, magnetism, and optics. COREQ: PHYS 212.

PHYS 295 RESEARCH IN PHYSICS (0-4 credits)(F,S). Individual research project carried out by the student in collaboration with a supervising member of the physics faculty. Intended for freshmen or sophomores. May be repeated.

Upper Division
PHYS 301 ANALOG AND DIGITAL ELECTRONICS (2-6-4)(S)(CID). Exploration of basic electronic test instrumentation and some of the more common discrete semiconductor devices and integrated circuits. Devices such as diodes, silicon controlled rectifiers, transistors, operational and instrumentation amplifiers, voltage regulators, timers, and analog-to-digital converters are utilized in simple electronic circuits for rectification, amplification, waveform creation, and other applications. Effective presentation and interpretation of technical data is stressed through written lab reports and oral communication projects. PREREQ: ENGL 102 (or ENGL 112), PHYS 212L.

PHYS 307 INTRODUCTION TO BIOPHYSICS (3-3-4)(F). Application of physical principles and techniques to the study of biological systems. Stresses examples relevant to cellular and molecular biology and to biomedical research. PREREQ: BIOL 191, CHEM 112, MATH 160 or MATH 170, and PHYS 112 or PHYS 212 with labs; or PERM/INST.

PHYS 309 INTRODUCTORY QUANTUM PHYSICS WITH APPLICATIONS (3-0-3)(F,S). Key concepts and applications of quantum physics with examples from chemistry, materials science, engineering, applied physics, and nanotechnology. PREREQ: PHYS 212. COREQ: MATH 275, PHYS 309L.

PHYS 309L INTRODUCTORY QUANTUM PHYSICS LAB (0-3-1)(F,S). Lab to be taken concurrently with PHYS 309. Hands-on experiments and computer simulations applying the principles of modern physics. PREREQ: PHYS 212L; COREQ: MATH 275, PHYS 309.

PHYS 311 MODERN PHYSICS (3-0-3)(S). Further topics in modern physics, including introductions to relativity, nuclear physics, elementary particles, and cosmology. PREREQ: PHYS 309.

PHYS 325 SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING (3-3-4)(F). Methods and practice of computing and computer modeling with emphasis on science and engineering. Topics include scientific visualization, simulation of complex systems, numerical solutions of systems of differential equations, supercomputing and parallel processing. Computer programming experience required. PREREQ: PHYS 212.

PHYS 330 OPTICS (3-0-3)(S). Geometrical and physical optics, including lenses, fiber optics, Fourier optics, polarization, interference, diffraction, lasers, and holography. PREREQ: MATH 333 and either ECE 300 or PHYS 381. COREQ: PHYS 330L.

PHYS 330L OPTICS LABORATORY (0-3-1)(S). Laboratory to be taken concurrently with PHYS 330. Experiments in optics, including optical systems, thick lenses, interference, diffraction, Fourier optics, image processing, and holography. COREQ: PHYS 330.

PHYS 341 MECHANICS (4-0-4)(S). An upper-division course that approaches classical mechanics with the aid of vector calculus and differential equations. Numerical techniques and computer applications will be used. PREREQ: MATH 333 and PHYS 211.

PHYS 381 ELECTROMAGNETIC THEORY (4-0-4)(F). Electrostatic and magnetostatic fields, including potentials, Gauss’s law, solutions of Laplace’s equation, dielectrics, vector potentials, magnetization, and an introduction to Maxwell’s equations. PREREQ: MATH 275, MATH 333, PHYS 212.

PHYS 382 ELECTRODYNAMICS (4-0-4)(S). Application of Maxwell’s equations to electrodynamics, including the stress tensor, wave equation, guided waves, radiation, and special relativity. PREREQ: PHYS 381.

PHYS 395 RESEARCH IN PHYSICS (0-4 credits)(F,S). Individual research project carried out by the student in collaboration with a supervising member of the physics faculty. Intended for juniors or seniors. May be repeated.

PHYS 405 ASTROPHYSICS (3-0-3)(F). Techniques and topics of modern astrophysics. Material is selected from the interaction of light with matter, solar system formation, main sequence star structure and evolution, degenerate stars and black holes, galaxy formation, and cosmology. PREREQ: PHYS 309; or PERM/INST.

PHYS 406 COSMOLOGY (3-0-3)(S). An overview of the large-scale structure and evolution of normal and dark matter. The key elements of observational cosmology including cosmic expansion, the microwave background radiation, and primordial nucleosynthesis. The early universe, inflation and the formation of structure. PREREQ: PHYS 105 or PHYS 205, PHYS 309, PHYS 311.

PHYS 412 INTERMEDIATE QUANTUM MECHANICS (4-0-4)(F). Fundamentals, including properties and solutions of the Schroedinger equation, operators, angular momentum, electron spin, identical particles, perturbations, and variational principle. Applications, such as tunneling, orbitals, magnetic resonance, and nanoscale effects. PREREQ: MATH 301, PHYS 309.

PHYS 415 SOLID STATE PHYSICS (3-0-3)(S). Quantum physics applied to understanding the properties of materials, including semiconductors, metals, superconductors, and magnetic systems. PREREQ: PHYS 309.

PHYS 422 ADVANCED TOPICS (1-4 credits)(F/S)(Offered on demand). Selected advanced topics from physics and applied physics, such as astrophysics, biophysics, device physics, magnetic materials, nanoscale physics, or medical physics. May be repeated for credit. PREREQ: Upper-division standing and PERM/INST.

PHYS 423 PHYSICAL METHODS OF MATERIALS CHARACTERIZATION (3-0-3)(F). Physical principles and practical methods used in determining the structural, electronic, optical, and magnetic properties of materials. Optical, electron, and scanning microscopies, diffraction, surface analysis, optical spectroscopy, electrical transport, and magnetometry. PREREQ: PHYS 309 or PERM/INST.

PHYS 432 THERMAL PHYSICS (4-0-4)(F). Foundations and applications of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, including temperature, entropy, heat capacity, chemical potential, and free energies. Applications to gasses, paramagnets, chemical systems, electrons, photons, phonons, and superfluids. PREREQ: PHYS 309.

PHYS 436 SOFT MATTER (3-0-3)(S). Introduction to the physical principles underlying the properties and behaviors of soft matter, including polymers, gels, colloids, and liquid crystals. Examples of soft matter include glues, paints, soaps, rubber, foams, gelatin, milk, and most materials of biological origin. Recommended preparation: PHYS 309. PREREQ: MATH 275, PHYS 212, and either CHEM 322 or MSE 308 or PHYS 432.

PHYS 481 ADVANCED PHYSICS LAB (1-6-3)(S). An advanced laboratory course designed to acquaint students with the concepts of modern physics, laboratory techniques, and measurements. PREREQ: PHYS 309L.
PHYS 482 SENIOR PROJECT (0-6-2)(S). 1 or 2 credits depending on the project. Elective. A sophisticated library or laboratory project in some area of physics. PREREQ: PHYS 481.

PHYS 495 RESEARCH IN PHYSICS (0-4 credits)(F,S). Individual research project carried out by the student in collaboration with a supervising member of the physics faculty. Intended for seniors. May be repeated.

PHYS 499 PHYSICS SENIOR SEMINARS (1-0-1)(S)(FF). A culminating experience for physics majors. Provides practice in the search and critical assessment of research articles and current trends in physics. Communications of results for variety of audiences is emphasized. PREREQ: Senior status and PERM/INST.

University-Wide Courses

The following courses are available to all departments. They are not offered on a regular basis, content and requirements vary. For information, contact the department chair, an instructor, or an advisor.
293, 493 Internship (credits vary).
294, 494 Conference or Workshop (0 to 4 credits).
197, 297, 397, 497 Special Topics (0 to 4 credits).
496 Independent Study (1 to 4 credits).