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1 Proposal: number 70

70. PHYS 204: Physics for Computer Science II

Contact:Igor Kuskovsky
Abstract:This class deals with fundamental principles underlying our understanding of
the physical concept developed since early 20th century, and which comprise
”modern physics” in contrast to “classical physics” of 16th - early 20th
century. The course will focus on the aspects of modern physics that are
largely important for development of computer technologies. Specifically,
students will learn about electronic and atomic structure of the solids that
form the basis of modern computers and other electronic and optoelectronic
devices. In this class the students will obtain new and deeper view of physics
laws; the basic concepts of quantum mechanics, dual nature of matter, as well
as new methods used by physicists in explaining properties of the natural world
beyond those of classical physics. They will learn that although modern physics
laws often contradict common sense, they correctly describes and predicts the
results of the experiments on sub-atomic scale. In addition to understanding of
the physical basis of computers, the students will find out how parallel and
independent discoveries converge to give a new paradigm and new knowledge. They
will find out how these discoveries in physics not only provided our
civilization with advanced knowledge, but also changed it at historically high

Interaction between students and teaching staff is organized in the form of
three components: lectures, recitations, and labs. Students learn material,
however, not only during scheduled class times, but also during their
preparation for classes. The preparation includes: reading a textbook and
additional reading materials, solving homework problems, and performing a
computer project, as well as other assignments deemed necessary by an

Main goal of lectures is to deliver main conceptual content of the studied
material. Organization of lectures depends on individual styles of professors
teaching the course, but active involvement of students in discussion of the
subject matter will always be one of the main means of achieving this goal.
Recitations play a more technical role: during recitations students sharpen
their practical skill in applying new concepts to typical situations occurring
in real life or during scientific inquiry. During labs, students are introduced
to and obtain hands-on experience of empirical methods of scientific inquiry.
They learn to design meaningful scientific experiments, use basic measuring
devices and instruments, design logic circuits, collect and analyze
experimental data to make reasonable scientific inferences.

Topics in this class include:

Electromagnetic Waves: review of electromagnetic phenomena with emphasis on
waves; Maxwell’s equations and speed of light; electromagnetic spectrum;
visible light; light as electromagnetic wave; interference and diffraction as
pure wave phenomena;

Introduction to Quantum Physics: blackbody radiation and photoelectric effect
as failures of classical physics; Planck’s hypothesis and Einstein’s model of
light; dual nature of light: photons and electromagnetic waves; dual nature of
matter: de Broglie pilot waves, electrons as waves, and the Davisson-Germer
experiment; an interpretation of quantum mechanics; wavefunction and
probability; the Schrљdinger equation as the law of nature; effect of tunneling
and its importance in limiting size of computer components.

Atomic Physics: historical prospective on development of our knowledge about
structure of atoms; understanding of hydrogen atom, as the simplest atomic
system; the periodic table as a natural consequence of laws of quantum
mechanics; atoms as building blocks of solids.

Solids: arrangements of atoms in solids; understanding periodic arrays of
atoms, and its role in rapid progress in the solid-state physics; energy-level
structure of solids and how it explains the differences between insulating,
conducting and semiconducting materials.

Semiconductor Devices and Basic Logic Circuits of Computers: Schottky and p-n
junction diodes; rectification; bi-polar and field effect transistors; voltage
and current amplifiers; MOSFET as the basic element of integrated circuits;
diode “AND” and “OR” gates; transistor gates; LEDs and other optoelectronic

Submissions and Approvals

Course Date Requirement Action By Whom Notes
PHYS 204 2008-09-02 NS+L Submitted Dept
PHYS 204 2008-09-02 QR Submitted Dept
PHYS 204 2008-10-14 NS+L Approved GEAC
PHYS 204 2008-11-13 NS+L Approved UCC
PHYS 204 2009-04-02 NS+L Approved Senate