Rice University

PHYS 231

Spring 2018



Instructor Contact Information


Instructor: Stan Dodds

Office: 215 Herzstein Hall

Email: dodds@rice.edu

Office Hours: Any time I'm in


Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes

In this laboratory course students will observe various phenomena studied in PHYS 201/202.


By the end of the course, students will have demonstrated the ability to

- Align and manipulate simple apparatus

- Acquire reliable data illustrative of the phenomena discussed in PHYS 201/202

- Present their results in a written technical report


Texts and Materials

Experiment descriptions and supporting material are available through the links below.


All lab work will be done in BRK 120. You may obtain the door code from Dr. Dodds in HRZ 215. Registered students will have access outside of normal hours with a Rice ID through the main entry doors to the East wing of Brockman Hall.


The experimental work is semi self-paced, in that you may work at any time during the lab weeks listed. Each exercise will require 2-4 hours in lab to complete the measurements, plus additional time to analyze data and prepare a report.


Assistance is available from Dr. Dodds in HRZ 215.


Course operation


The graded work for the semester will consist of a short report on each laboratory exercise, due according to the following schedule:




Equipment available

Report due

Standing Waves1

Jan. 14

Jan. 26

Transmission Lines

Jan. 28

Feb. 2

Reflection and Refraction

Feb. 11

Feb. 16


Feb. 18

Feb. 23


Feb. 25

Mar. 2

Physical Optics

Mar. 4

Mar. 9

Optical Spectroscopy

Mar. 18

Mar. 23

The Franck-Hertz Experiment2

Mar. 25

Apr. 20

Particle Counting2

Mar. 25

Apr. 20


1. Extra time may be needed to learn oscilloscope operation.

2. These experiments are somewhat lengthier and there is only one set-up of each. Plan accordingly.


You may work with a partner if you wish, but it is not required. In any case, each student is expected to be familiar with all phases of the experiment and to produce an independent report of the results.


Reports are due by 5 PM on the last day of the scheduled experiment period. Note that the amount of equipment is limited, so it will be impossible for all students to undertake an experiment immediately before a deadline.


Early submissions are always welcome, while late work will be penalized at the rate of 5 percentage points per day or fraction late. Reports will not be accepted more than 7 days after the due date or the first day of finals, whichever is earlier.




General Information

Sample Lab Report

Error Analysis

Chi-square Table

Using LoggerPro

Circuits, Signals and Instruments

Using an Oscilloscope (PHYS 112)





Laboratory Exercises


Standing Waves

Transmission Lines

Reflection and Refraction



Physical Optics

Optical Spectroscopy

The Franck-Hertz Experiment

Particle Counting