Spring 2010 Physics
603 - Chem. Phys. 718F
THE BASIS AND ESSENTIALS OF STATISTICAL MECHANICS
Instructor: Michael E. Fisher, Room
2100A, IPST, Bldg. 085; tel. 5-4819;
Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 am to 10:45 am
Place: Room 1201 Physics.
Credit: 3 hours.
Prerequisites: An undergraduate course in thermal physics or thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; some
basic quantum mechanics. This course is planned as a graduate level introduction.
OUTLINE (subject to some changes in scope and emphasis):
I. Thermodynamics: Macroscopic/microscopic
variables, extensivity; First and Second Laws; Assemblies:
thermo-potentials, Legendre transforms, thermodynamic relations.
II. Foundations of Statistical Mechanics:    Classical mechanics, Hamiltonian, phase space;  Ergodic approach; Ensemble approach, microcanonical postulate;   Canonical and grand-canonical ensembles; classical ideal gas;   fluctuations of energy and particle number. Entropy and information.
Partition functions and ensembles, equivalence, microcanonical ensemble.
Quantum statistical mechanics, indistinguishability, Bose, Fermi, and Boltzmann statistics.
III. Introductory Applications: Ideal
gas of particles with structure: rotational specific heats;
normal H2; metastability. Chemical Equilibria. Ideal Crystals: Einstein model, normal modes, low tempera-
ture specific heats, Debye model, T 3-law; Black body radiation; Third Law of Thermodynamics; Imperfect Gases and Fluids: virial expansion, Mayer cluster idea; Correlation Functions, radial distribution function and its uses; Density Fluctuations and Compressibility, scattering of radiation. Ideal Quantum Gases: free electrons, Bose-Einstein condensation; Ideal Paramagnets: Curies' law, interacting Ising spins, low-T and high-T expansions.
Assignments: Problem sets are an important part of the course and will be handed out about every two weeks. There will be a Mid-term and Final Examination, most probably both in a take-home format.
is no required text for this course: notes taken in class
will be important. However, in the past, many students with a physics background
have found the following book helpful and similar in approach
to the course:
Statistical Mechanics, (2nd Edn.) by R.K. Pathria (Butterworth/Heinemann, 1996).
Other books also recommended are, first,
(a) at a somewhat lower level:
Statistical Mechanics: A concise introduction for chemists by B. Widom (Cambridge, 2002);
and, with rather full coverage, also:
Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics by W. Greiner et al. (Springer, 1995); and,
(b) at course level, especially for chemical physicists:
Statistical Mechanics by D.A. McQuarrie (Harper and Row, 1975); and,
(c) for condensed matter physicists:
Equilibrium Statistical Physics by M. Plischke & B. Bergersen, 2nd Edn. (World Scientific, 1994); and
(d) rather more advanced,
Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics by G. Mazenko (Wiley, 2000). However, other textbooks and references
will be discussed in class in an early lecture and should be on reserve in the Library.