Advanced Physics Lab

PHY 335Z
Spring 2018
Lecture: Wed 12:35PM - 1:30PM, PH 225
Lab Sections to be held in ES B14

Prof. Kevin H. Knuth
Physics Department
University at Albany
Albany NY USA


There will be no class today, Wed. Mar. 7, as classes are suspended due to the snowstorm. Lab #2 is due on Friday, Mar. 9. However, I will accept submissions for full credit up until Friday, Mar. 23 (since next week is spring break).
The Faraday Experiment is under repair and is not functional.

Please sign up for labs using the SignUp Genius invitations. There are four Lab Slots each week. Any group of two can sign up for any slot (regardless of what you registered for). These are in

ES B14
Monday8:00 am - 11:00 am TA Kevin Wynne
Tuesday5:30 pm - 8:00 pm TA Eric Dohner
Wednesday3:00 pm - 6:00 pm TA Eric Dohner
Friday8:00 am - 11:00 am TA Kevin Wynne

I will share a Lab Partner Sign-Up Sheet with everyone registered for the class. You should have received an email at your UAlbany email address. This sheet will allow you to privately advertise for a lab partner or to find a lab partner. Use of this sheet is optional. Your names are all listed, but it is up to you whether to add your contact info. Please enter only information you are comfortable with sharing, and enter it for yourself only. Do not modify other people's information or the layout of the spreadsheet. Do not share the access URL with anyone outside of class. If you have any suggestions to make this better, please contact the Prof. Knuth:

 Experiment Due Date
Exp 0Scientific Literature Homework Tues Feb 6
Exp 1Scattering and Circles Mon Feb 19
Exp 2Student's Choice Fri Mar 9

How to Write an Abstract
Dealing with uncertainties
Tips on Scientific Writing (Morrison)
Writing Tips (Knuth)
Lab#1 Writing Example

Important Downloads:
MSWord Template File (docx format)(doc format)
LaTeX Template File
AIP Style Guide
Lab Writing Guidelines
AIP Preparing a Scientific Paper

Technical Reports can be written using your favorite word processor. However, they should be submitted in pdf format.
Latex or Revtex papers will be accepted with extra credit.


Instructor:Dr. Kevin H. Knuth,
Associate Professor of Physics and Informatics, PH 211
Office Hours:Wed 1:45pm – 2:45pm, PH 211
Teaching Assistants: 
Eric Dohner:
Kevin Wynne:

Course Description: Introduction to the techniques of experimental research in modern physics. Measurement technique and error analysis are emphasized, as is technical report writing, research presentations, and independence in the laboratory.
3 credits.
Prerequisite(s): A grade of B or better in APHY 250 or permission of instructor

In this class you will be expected to perform six laboratory experiments over the course of the semester (see section below on Experiments). These experiments can be performed alone or preferably in pairs. Each student is expected to write his/her own technical report describing each of the six experiments (see section below on Technical Reports). It is expected that each student will attend the Lectures (see section below on Lectures).

This course has a website that you can check for updates to the schedule or for special announcements.

A brief lecture (1hr) will be held on Wednesdays from 12:35p through 1:30pm. I will lecture on useful techniques for data analysis, laboratory techniques, and report writing. Attendance is expected.

Laboratory Experiments
There will be one Homework Assignment (Exp 0) and six Laboratory Experiments (Exp 1 through Exp 6). Completion of ALL homework and laboratory experiments is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for receiving a passing grade.

The students are responsible for THOROUGHLY researching the experiment prior to coming to the laboratory. This means reading the relevant manuals beforehand, if available, or performing a literature search on the topic and reading the relevant papers. Anyone who is determined to not be prepared will be turned away from the laboratory.

There are six Lab Slots each week. Any group of two can sign up for any slot (regardless of what you registered for). These are on Monday/Wednesday (MW) 8:15-11:00 and Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday (MTW) 1:30-4:00 in ES B14. Once signed up for a slot, all students in the group are expected to attend. In case, of extreme circumstances, students are required to notify (email) the supervising TA BEFORE meeting time. Students not doing so will have 10 points deducted from that laboratory experiment. Failure to show up without prior notice three times or more will result in an E for the course. Exemptions will be granted only with a signed doctor's excuse or an excuse from the Dean's office.

Each laboratory experiment is to be written up as a technical report (see details below).
The HW and lab report due dates are:

 Experiment Due Date
Exp 0Scientific Literature Homework Tue Feb 6
Exp 1Scattering and Circles Mon Feb 19
Exp 2Student's Choice Fri Mar 9
Exp 3Student's Choice Mon Mar 26
Exp 4Student's Choice Mon Apr 9
Exp 5Student's Choice Mon Apr 23
Exp 6Student's Choice Mon May 7

New experiments requiring both design and construction can be attempted for groups with the permission of the instructor. These will count as two experiments (which will give you a month to perform). These are challenging in that the group members themselves will be responsible for setting up the experiment (from scratch) with *some* (minimal) assistance from the TAs or the instructor. Groups may suggest experiments to consider. Examples include getting an old experiment back up and running, or conceiving of a new experiment subject to the professor's approval. A new experiment can be performed only once per student.

Technical Reports
A technical report is to be written for each experiment. Even though you may work in pairs, each student is to write his or her own technical report. The student writing the report is first author and the lab partners are to be co-authors in alphabetical order. Any reviewers are to be acknowledged in an Acknowledgements section.

Reports can be written using your favorite word processor (eg. MSWord). Technical reports will be written in accordance to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) guidelines. Students may opt to use LaTeX for extra credit (10 points extra for the first lab, 3 points extra for subsequent labs).

Reports will be graded according to each of the following attributes in equal part:
Clarity of Writing
Technical Mastery
Quality of Analysis
Accuracy of Results
Adherence to the AIP Format

Each Technical Report can be turned in by the end of the day 11:59 pm of the Submission Date for 100 points. The Technical Report can be turned in from 1-3 days after the Submission Date for 90 points. The Technical Report can be turned in from 4-7 days after the Submission Date for 80 points. Technical Reports turned in more than 7 days after the Submission Date will receive 0 points.

Each report must be emailed to before the time at which it is due. An identical printout of the report must also be physically turned to my mailbox in PH 216 within three days after the due date. If a printed version differs from the emailed version, the emailed version will be taken as the official report and it will be considered to be turned in when it was received. (i.e. you cannot buy yourself extra editing time by emailing an incomplete version to get it in on time and then physically delivering an improved version.)

Reviews and Editing
It is strongly encouraged that lab partners review each other's lab reports before submission and that the student edits the report according to the review. Submissions consisting of:

  • the original report
  • the review of the original report
  • the author rebuttal statement responding to the reviewer comments
  • the revised report

will earn 2.5 points for both the author and the reviewer (for a maximum of 5 points each for a given experiment). You must give your lab partner at least two days to complete the review. Lab partner's must not feel compelled to carefully review a very poorly written lab report. Ignoring reviewer comments in the rebuttal will cost you severely when the report is graded. Treat this process very seriously and you will do well.

Academic Integrity
Students are encouraged to work in pairs on a given experiment. However, each student is to write his or her own technical report. Note that COPYING IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Submitting the work of another person as your own is plagiarism and will treated seriously by assigning an E for the course.

There will be no exams for this class.

Grading (A-E)
Grades will be computed by taking a simple average of the grades of the technical reports for the six experiments.

LetterPercent GPA
A+97 - 100 4.0
A93 - 96 4.0
A-90 - 92 3.7
B+87 - 89 3.3
B83 - 86 3.0
B-80 - 82 2.7
C+77 - 79 2.3
C73 - 76 2.0
C-70 - 72 1.7
D+67 - 69 1.3
D65 - 66 1.0
E/F<65 0.0

Note that all labs and homeworks must be completed and submitted to receive better than an E in this class.