Electromagnetic Fields and Relativity, Quantum Physics and Particles

Module code: NT3010

Maxwell's equations describe a unified theory of the electric and magnetic fields. In this module you will deepen your understanding of the meaning and application of Maxwell's equations. You will study how Maxwell’s equations demonstrate the existence of electromagnetic waves, and explore the characteristics of these waves in a vacuum, in dielectric media and in conductors. You will learn about electromagnetic energy density and energy flux. Finally you will apply what you have learned to the problem of electromagnetic waves at boundaries.

This module will also explore some exciting and counter-intuitive areas in modern physics - Einstein's special theory of relativity, quantum physics and fundamental particle physics. Special relativity theory describes motion at high speeds, close to the speed of light, and has profound consequences for our understanding of time and space. In this module, you will study the ideas underlying Special Relativity, and you will learn how to carry out calculations involving speeds close to the speed of light. You will then study the fundamental equation of quantum mechanics, the Schrodinger equation, and apply it to idealised systems to learn about the quantum behaviour of matter. In the final part of this module you will survey the basic concepts of particle physics, including the properties of elementary particles such as leptons and quarks. You will study the conservation laws that allow us to deduce whether a decay or reaction is allowed and review some of the core elements of the Standard Model of particle physics.

Topics covered

  • Polarisation, magnetisation, vector fields 
  • Integral and differential forms of Maxwell’s equations 
  • Electromagnetic waves
  • Electromagnetic energy and Poynting’s theorem
  • Special relativity, including Lorentz transforms and the energy momentum relationship, and an introduction to the concepts of General Relativity 
  • Quantum mechanics in 1D, including solution of the Schrödinger equation for simple systems 
  • Elementary particles and the Standard Model
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