Physics for Chemistry & Life Sciences


Prof. Dr. Matthias Wollenhaupt

Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg
Faculty V - Institute of Physics
Carl-Von-Ossietzky-Str. 9-11
D-26129 Oldenburg

Tel.: +49-441-798-3482
room: W2 1-101

Physics for Chemistry & Life Sciences

Physics for students of chemistry and environmental sciences

In the winter semester, the topics covered are mechanics, electrodynamics and thermodynamics. In the summer semester, the lecture covers optics, atomic and molecular physics and solid state physics.


The following main topics are available in the field of optics:

  • Concave mirrors and parabolic mirrors
  • Image construction
  • real and virtual images
  • Imaging and imaging equations
  • Speed of light
  • law of refraction
  • chromatic dispersion and prisms
  • total internal reflection
  • Mie and Rayleigh scattering
  • Image construction: eye and microscope
  • Imaging errors
  • Polarisation and birefringence
  • Light as a wave, wave equation
  • Phase shift and reflection
  • Huygens elementary waves, wave fronts
  • Interference, occurrence in nature and technology
  • Interferometer
  • Single and double slit and grating
  • Spectrometer and resolving power

Atomic and molecular physics

The following main topics are covered in the area of atomic and molecular physics:

  • Hydrogen spectra
  • Bohr's atomic model
  • Absorption and emission of light
  • Blackbody radiation and Planck's radiation formula
  • Photoelectric effect
  • Pulse and spin of photons
  • Compton effect
  • Electron diffraction
  • Particle interference
  • Wave functions, wave packets and probability density
  • Schrödinger equation
  • Heisenberg uncertainty principle
  • Light and matter wave packets
  • Phase and group velocity
  • Unbound states (free particle)
  • Potentials: step, tunnel barrier, box, harmonic and Coulomb potentials
  • Schrödinger equation for hydrogen
  • Radial and spherical surface functions
  • Angular momentum of the electron and Zeeman effect
  • Spin of the electron and Stern-Gerlach experiment
  • Fine structure and hyperfine structure splitting
  • Pauli principle, fermions and bosons
  • Total angular momentum and term scheme
  • Helium: singlet and triplet
  • Hund's rules
  • Periodic table of the elements
  • Atomic nucleus: size and binding energy
  • Nuclide map and radioactive decays
  • Approximation methods for molecules: LCAO and Heitler-London
  • Born-Oppenheimer approximation
  • Molecular orbitals and hybridisation
  • Bond types
  • Molecular rotation and vibration, Franck-Condon principle
  • Green Flourescence Protein (GFP)

Solid State Physics

Finally, a compact overview of the following topics in solid state physics is given:

  • Bonds in solids
  • Reciprocal space (k-space)
  • Density of states in solids
  • Band structures: metals, semiconductors and insulators
  • Applications for semiconductors
  • Bravais lattice and crystal structures, network planes and Miller indices
  • Structure determination for crystals
  • Lattice vibrations
(Changed: 20 Jun 2024)  | 
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