Our Undergraduate Physics Laboratory is where our Physics students conduct most of their coursework experiments. The main teaching lab is open plan and has space for 30 students to conduct experiments under the supervision of technicians and academics.

Undergraduates learn through supervised, practice-based experiments, including:

  • Planck's constant — to measure the amount of energy a photon carries against the frequency of electromagnetic waves, a key measurement in quantum physics
  • Electron diffraction — to measure the wave patterns of electrons against solid materials like crystals
  • Beta decay — to study how beta particles react to imbalances in protons or neutrons through a process of radioactive decay
  • giant magnetoresistance (GMR) effect — to analyse the changes in electrical resistance when magnets are placed beside one another in different ways
  • Speed of light measurement — to conduct and understand one of the most fundamental principles of physics

Students also learn how to use LabVIEW – the same software the European Organisation for Nuclear Research uses to run the Large Hadron Collider.

Wave Synoptics Lab

The Wave Synoptics Lab is attached to the Physics Lab, where students study mechanical and electromagnetic waves. Lecturers run experiments and demonstrate how to use tools and techniques.

The Lab also allows students to make basic cameras to understand how light and images are projected through lenses.

Male physics student in lab
Female physics student in laboratory

Equipment and experiments

The Physics Lab has equipment to conduct experiments around the following topics:

  • Conductivity — such as measuring thermal conductivity of different materials used in building construction
  • Electromagnetism — such as measuring magnetic field distribution within a set of Helmholtz coils, understanding the magnetic properties of ferromagnetic minerals and the giant magnetoresistance effect
  • Radiation — including investigating the range of beta particles in aluminium through external absorption and the reduction of ionising radiation
  • Motion and kinetic energy — such as testing Hooke's law, Stokes' law and rotational motion
  • Diffraction — including electron diffraction that demonstrates the duality of matter, the Zeeman effect and an introduction to interferometry to better understand how interference affects wave patterns
  • Diffraction — including electron diffraction that demonstrates the duality of matter, the Zeeman effect and an introduction to interferometry to better understand how interference affects wave patterns

Our Wave Synoptics Lab has equipment to conduct experiments including:

  • Wave diffraction and interference experiments — to see and compare how travelling through single and double slits changes wave patterns
  • Making a basic camera — this activity teaches students how light travels through different lenses and objects
  • Focal length experiments — to measure the focal length of concave and convex lenses and how mirrors change focal length

Where to find us

Undergraduate Physics Lab

Burnaby Building
Burnaby Road
Portsmouth
PO1 3QL

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