Physics Department | Center For Optical Technologies | Lehigh University  

Prof. Ivan Biaggio  

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Prof. I. Biaggio
Teaching activities

PHY 21: Introductory Physics II

Fall Semester



This course introduces the physics of magnetic and electrical effects, covering electric currents, electric fields, magnetic fields, and how they arise from each other. In addition, it introduces the fundamentals of electric circuits, electromagnetic waves, and the principles of optics.

The part about electromagnetism discusses how electric and magnetic fields can be understood, and how they relate to electric charges and currents. An electric field can create a current, and a magnetic field can do that, too. An electric charge creates an electric field, but if it is moving, then it also creates a magnetic field. An electric fields pushes or pulls on a charge, while a magnetic field only affects a charge that is moving, by trying to bend its trajectory. This leads to generators and motors when conducting wires are coiled into loops and placed in magnetic fields, and evertyhing ultimately leads to the fact that electric and magnetic fields can generate each other when they change in time. The part about electromagnetism then ends with electromagnetic waves and light and the fact that the speed of light is a constant of nature, independently on how fast a source of light might be moving with respect to an observer.

The part about electric circuits is a basic discussion about how charges, electric currents, and magnetic fields interact when various elements (resistors, capacitors, inductors) are connected by conducting wires, giving rise to the typical properties of circuits, like voltage dividers, the time it takes to charge a capacitor, or resonances when inductors and capacitors are used together.

The part about optics discusses how lenses and (curved) mirrors work, and how images are formed, using simple ray optics. It then goes on to discuss the fact that light is a wave, the superposition principle, interference, and diffraction.

2013 syllabus (PDF)

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