Optics Lab Photo
Object (left) and hologram of object (right) made by students in Optics Laboratory (PHYS 415L).

Physics Department
Laboratory Experiments at
Christian Brothers University(CBU)


The labs emphasize hands-on working with the equipment to make the physics real to the student. The lab experiments that support the learning experience are all contained in lab manuals that the department prepares especially for the students.

We have three well-equipped lab rooms for the introductory physics labs and the natural science labs offered by our department. Each room has equipment for at least eight set-ups for all experiments (except those using the air tracks of which we have four). We usually have a maximum of sixteen students in one section with students working in teams of two at each station.

For upper-level experiments we have large multi-use lab room, well-equipped for experiments with lasers, optics, and advanced physics.

Lower-Level Physics Labs:
Calculus-based Sequence: Algebra-based Sequence:
Physics 150 (Physics I) Physics 201(Intro Physics I)
Physics 251 (Physics II) Physics 202 (Intro Physics II)
Physics 252 (Physics III)

Natural Science Labs Offered by the Department:
Natural Science 111 (Introduction to Astronomy)
Natural Science 115 (Survey of Science)

Upper-Level Physics Labs:
Physics 415L (Optics)
Physics 452 (Advanced Lab)





PHYS 150L : Physics I Laboratory Experiments
1. Composition of Concurrent Forces
Part 1: Analytical method
Part 2: Graphical method
Part 3: Experiment with the Force Table
Part 4: Experimental Uncertainty (using the computer)
2. Acceleration Due to Gravity [Download tutorial.]
Graph 1: v vs t
Graph 2: s vs t
Graph 3: s vs tē
3. Acceleration Along a Ramp
4. Newton's Second Law (without friction)
5. Newton's Second Law (with friction)
6. Centripetal Force
Part 1: Testing Newton's Second Law
Part 2: Questions about circular motion (using the computer)
7. Moments of Parallel Forces (Torque)
Part 1: Weight and the Center of Gravity
Part 2: Statics and Torque
Part 3: Determining the Balance Point: calculation and experiment
8. The Atwood Machine
Part 1: Newton's Second Law
Part 2: Conservation of Energy
9. Hooke's Law
Part 1: Hooke's Law and Springs
Part 2: Energy Stored in a Spring (Potential Energy)
10. Moment of Inertia
Part 1: Apparatus
Part 2: Ring
Part 3: Disk
Part 4: Ring and Disk Combination
11. Oscillations
Part 1: Finding an experimental relationship
Part 2: Numerical analysis (using the computer)
Part 3: Further considerations

Physics Labs

PHYS 251L : Physics II Laboratory Experiments
1. Electric Fields Simulation
Part 1: Plotting Electric Fields by Hand
Part 2: Getting Started with the Microcomputer
Part 3: Plotting Fields
2. The Operation of a Cathode Ray Tube
Part 1: Electric Fields and Voltages
Part 2: Magnetic Fields
3. Ohm's Law
Part 1: Ohm's Law: V = IR
Part 2: Resistance vs Length
Part 3: Resistance & Resistivity
Part 4: Resistance in Series and Parallel
Part 5: Voltage, Current, and Power
4. RC Circuit
Part 1: Capacitance of a Capacitor
Part 2: Parallel and Series Combinations of Capacitors
Part 3: Body Resistance
5. Magnetic Deflection
Part 1: Magnetic Deflection Due to Magnets and Electromagnets
Part 2: The Earth's Magnetic Field
6. Charge to Mass Ratio for the Electron
7. Electromagnetic Induction
Part 1: Bar magnet at rest inside a coil
Part 2: Bar magnet moved
Part 3: Electromagnet moved
Part 4: Electromagnet switched off and on
Part 5: Effect of an iron core on the induced EMF
Part 6: Effect of increasing current
8. The Oscilloscope
Part 1: Set up
Part 2: Measurement of a DC voltage
Part 3: Measurement of an AC voltage
Part 4: Square wave voltage applied to an RC circuit
9. AC Circuits
Part 1: Inductance of a Coil
Part 2: Series Resonance
Part 3: Filtering

Physics Labs

PHYS 252L : Physics III Laboratory Experiments
1. Reflection and Refraction
Part 1: Reflection and image formation by a plane mirror
Part 2: Refraction from a plane surface
Part 3: Reflection and refraction
2. Thin Lenses: Basics
Part 1: Convex lens
Part 2: Concave lens
3. Thin Lenses: Applications
Part 1: The Eye and Visual Acuity
Part 2: The Telescope
Part 3: The Microscope
4. The Vibrating String
Part 1: Waves on a slinky
Part 2: Reflection of waves
Part 3: Interference and standing waves on a string
5. Diffraction Grating
Part 1: Calibration: determining D with a Sodium light
Part 2: Determining Wavelengths for H, He and Hg
Part 3: White light and range for visible wavelengths
6. Diffraction: Puzzles to Solve
Part 1: Find the wavelength of a semiconductor laser
Part 2: Find the diameter of a circular aperture
Part 3: Find the width of a single slit and the width of a strand of your hair.
7. Polarized Light
Part 1: Beam polarization
Part 2: Malus' Law for intensity
Part 3: Rotating the polarization
Part 4: Polarization by reflection
8. The Geiger-Mueller Counter
Part 1: Set-up
Part 2: Threshold
Part 3: Condition of tube
Part 4: Operating point
Part 5: Dead time
9. Statistical Handling of Radioactive Measurements
10. Half-Life
11. Beta Decay Energy
Part 1: Beta rays from Tl-204
Part 2: Beta rays from Co-60
Part 3: Comparisons
12. Beta Particle and Gamma Ray Absorption (A Two-Part Mystery!)
Part 1: Determining thickness of aluminum foil
Part 2: Determining positions of air holes and lead plugs in iron

Physics Labs

PHYS 201L : Introductory Physics I Laboratory Experiments
1. Composition of Concurrent Forces
Part 1: Analytical method
Part 2: Graphical method
Part 3: Experiment with the Force Table
Part 4: Experimental Uncertainty (using the computer)
2. Acceleration Due to Gravity [Download tutorial.]
Graph 1: v vs t
Graph 2: s vs t
Graph 3: s vs tē
3. Acceleration Along a Ramp
4. Newton's Second Law
5. Centripetal Force
Part 1: Testing Newton's Second Law
Part 2: Questions about circular motion (using the computer)
6. Moments of Parallel Forces (Torque)
Part 1: Weight and the Center of Gravity
Part 2: Statics and Torque
Part 3: Determining the Balance Point: calculation and experiment
7. The Atwood Machine
Part 1: Newton's Second Law
Part 2: Conservation of Energy
8. Hooke's Law
Part 1: Hooke's Law and Springs
Part 2: Energy Stored in a Spring (Potential Energy)
9. Fluids
Part 1: Density
Part 2: Buoyant Force and Archimede's Principle
Part 3: Applications
10. Oscillations
Part 1: Finding an experimental relationship
Part 2: Numerical analysis (using the computer)
11. The Vibrating String
Part 1: Waves on a slinky
Part 2: Reflection of waves
Part 3: Interference and standing waves on a string

Physics Labs

PHYS 202L : Introductory Physics II Laboratory Experiments
1. Electric Fields Simulation
Part 1: Plotting Electric Fields by Hand
Part 2: Getting Started with the Microcomputer
Part 3: Plotting Fields
2. Ohm's Law
Part 1: Ohm's Law: V = IR
Part 2: Resistance vs Length
Part 3: Resistance & Resistivity
Part 4: Resistance in Series and Parallel
Part 5: Voltage, Current, and Power
3. Magnetic Deflection
Part 1: Magnetic Deflection by a Magnet
Part 2: Magnetic Deflection and Currents
Part 3: The Earth's Magnetic Field
4. Charge to Mass Ratio for the Electron
5. Electromagnetic Induction
Part 1: Bar magnet at rest inside a coil
Part 2: Bar magnet moved
Part 3: Electromagnet moved
Part 4: Current switched off and on
Part 5: Effect of an iron core
Part 6: Effect of increasing current
Part 7: Sending signals
6. The Oscilloscope
Part 1: Set up
Part 2: Measurement of a DC voltage
Part 3: Measurement of an AC voltage
Part 4: Square wave voltage applied to an RC circuit
7. Reflection and Refraction
Part 1: Reflection and image formation by a plane mirror
Part 2: Refraction from a plane surface
Part 3: Reflection and refraction
8. Thin Lenses: Basics
Part 1: Convex lens
Part 2: Concave lens
9. Thin Lenses: The Microscope
10. Diffraction Grating and the Spectrum of Light
Part 1: Calibration: determining D with a Sodium light
Part 2: Determining Wavelengths for H, He and Hg
Part 3: White light and range for visible wavelengths
11. Investigating Radioactivity
Part 1: The Geiger Counter
Part 2: Radioactivity as a process involving probability
Part 3: Absorption of Radiation
Appendix: Nuclear Data Tables

Physics Labs

NSCI 111L : Introduction to Astronomy Laboratory Experiments
1. Using Your Star Chart
2. Reflection and Refraction
Part 1: Reflection and image formation by a plane mirror
Part 2: Refraction from a plane surface
3. The Telescope
Part 1: The eye and visual acuity
Part 2: A lens: focal length and image formation
Part 3: Two Lenses: the refracting telescope
4. The Spectrograph: Colors of Light and Emission of Light by Atoms
5. Polarized Light
Part 1: Light and polarizers
Part 2: Reflected light, glare, and polarized sunglasses
6. Circular Motion and Planetary Orbits - a laboratory analogy
7. Retrograde Motion and Planetary Orbits - computer simulations
Part 1: Siderial and synodic periods
Part 2: Retrograde motion
Part 3: Circular and elliptical orbits
8. Parallax and Distance Measurement
Part 1: Near objects
Part 2: Far objects
9. Determining Distance from Light Measurements
Part 1: Calibration using small distances
Part 2: Determining large distances by extrapolation
10. Investigating Radioactivity
Part 1: The Geiger counter
Part 2: Radioactivity as a process involving probability
Part 3: Absorption of radioactivity
11. Electromagnetism
Part 1: Voltage, Current, and Resistance
Part 2: Generating Electricity

Physics Labs

NSCI 115L : Survey of Science Laboratory Experiments
1. Density and Archimedes' Principle
Part 1: Density
Part 2: "Apparent mass" and buoyant force
2. The Decomposition of Water by Electrolysis
3. Acceleration Due to Gravity
Graph #1: Position versus time
Graph #2: Velocity versus time
4. Waves and the Vibrating String
Part 1: Waves on a slinky
Part 2: Reflection of waves
Part 3: Interference and standing waves on a string
5. Electricity: Voltage, Current and Ohm's Law
Part 1: Part 1: Ohm's Law
Part 2: Part 2: Resistance vs length
Part 3: Resistance
Part 4: Resistance in series and parallel
6. Magnetism: Magnetic Forces and Magnetic Fields
Part 1: Getting an electron beam
Part 2: Playing with magnetic fields
Part 3: Getting preliminary data
Part 4: Determining charge to mass ratio for the electron
7. Properties of Light
Part 1: Reflection
Part 2: Refraction from a plane surface
Part 3: Thin lenses
Part 4: The telescope
8. The Spectrograph
9. Investigating Radioactivity
Part 1: The Geiger counter
Part 2: Radioactivity as a process involving probability
Part 3: Absorption of radioactivity

Physics Labs

PHYS 415L : Optics Laboratory Experiments
This list is a sample of recent experiments that were performed. Experiments change periodically.

  • Spencer Spectrometer
  • Semiconductor Detectors
  • Photomultiplier Tube
  • Michelson Interferometer (Measurement of Wavelength)
  • Michelson Interferometer (Measurement of Sodium Doublet)
  • Michelson Interferometer (Measurement of Air's Refractive Index)
  • Fabry-Perot Interferometer (Measurement of Wavelength)
  • Michelson Interferometer (Measurement of Glass Dispersion)
  • Production of Transmission Hologram
  • Production & Analysis of Polarized Light
  • Dichroic Sheet Polarizers
  • Fresnel Equations
  • Fraunhofer Diffraction
  • Fresnel Diffraction
  • Spectrum Analyzer: Laser Longitudinal Modes
  • Diode Lasers: Emission Characteristics

Physics Labs

PHYS 452 : Advanced Laboratory Experiments
The student chooses and performs typically four experiments from those listed below.
AreaExperiment
Mechanics
  • Gyroscope
  • Normal Modes of Oscillation
Electricity & Magnetism
  • Charge to Mass Ratio for the Electron (Advanced)
  • Analyzing Magnetic Fields with a Hall Effect Probe
High Energy
  • Analysis of Bubble Chamber Interactions Using Relativistic Mechanics
Condensed Matter
  • Bragg Diffraction with Microwaves
Quantum
  • Planck's Constant via Photoelectric Effect and LED Operation
Any Area
  • Student Designed Experiment
    (based on student interest, available equipment and permission of instructor)
Physics Labs