PHYS 436 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Syllabus Page


Welcome to Physics 436!

We will meet on Monday August 24 at 9 am in LLP 141 which has a seating pattern consistent with social distancing requirements.  Plan on arriving early at the south doors to be admitted by a Wellness Associate who will check your eligibility to enter the builting.  I'm looking forward to meeting all of you there.  It is very important for you to attend and study all of the lectures, since this is a fast paced and difficult course.  We will use iClickers or some sort of remote polling to interactively discuss the physics presented.  The use of iClickers as a required part of the course will start on Friday August 28.

Here's what we're going to do:

We will begin with some lectures reviewing electrostatics and magnetostatics and quickly get on to EM radiation.  We will consider how light propagates in vacuum and dielectrics.  We will cover reflection and refraction from dielectric interfaces which requires us to match boundary conditions for D, E, B and H.  We will also describe how light reflects from conducting surfaces. Following this we will explore the energy, momentum and angular momentum contained in EM radiation.  Following this, we will study how light propagates inside conducting tubes (waveguides) and also study the resonant behavior of EM cavities.  Up to this point we will have worked directly with the electric and magnetic fields themselves.  To study radiation and other physics, we will develop a potential formalism with a more complicfated relationship between the sources, fields, and the scalar and vector potentials than we saw in time independent problems.  In particular, the gauge choice that simplifies the equations for the potential functions is known as the Lorentz gauge.  The resulting theory provides a convenient way to describe all types of radiation processes in which light is generated.  We will discuss various sources of radiation and describe how frequency mixing occurs in dielectric media when the fields are large and the response exhibits nonlinear components.  This is non-linear optics.  We will wrap up the course with a complete description of special relativity which we will see is made necessary by the results developed so far.  This will include relativistic mechanics, space-time kinematics and a completely relativisitic description of Maxwell's Equations in terms of 4-vectors and 4-tensors.  We will also cover relativistic radiation.

Discussion sections begin on Tuesday August 25.  Please attend the section you signed up for.

Homework will be assigned on Mondays and your solutions are due a week later by 5 pm.

We are trying to get office hours scheduled for Thursday afternoons, probably 1-5 pm.  As of now that's still up in the air.


Regarding Homework

Homework is to be turned into the 436 homework depository which you can access via MyPhysics.  Homework turned in late will recieve a reduced score.  The maximum score is reduced to 90% if it is turned in late.  Homework more than 1 week late will receive zero credit.  If you hand your homework in late it is your responsibility to notify the course graders.  I am going to try to get the homework assignments returned to you during the next week's discussion section. If you have an official excuse (McKinley) up to 2 assignments can be excused. Please submit your excuse documentation within 10 business days via the Excused Absences application.

Academic Integrity

This course will operate using an Honor Code that is outlined in the Student Code.  All tests and other sorts of evaluations will be open book and open notes, but no internet searching will be allowed and you can't talk with anyone else about it.  You are required to affix your signature to a statement saying that you subscribe to the Honor Code and that you have not cheated.  The Academic Integrity rules are described in Article 1, Part 4, Academic Integrity, of the Student Code.


Syllabus Statements

Anti-Racism and Inclusivity Statement

The Grainger College of Engineering is committed to the creation of an anti-racist, inclusive community that welcomes diversity along a number of dimensions, including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, disability status, class, age, or religious beliefs. The College recognizes that we are learning together in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, that Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous voices and contributions have largely either been excluded from, or not recognized in, science and engineering, and that both overt racism and micro-aggressions threaten the well-being of our students and our university community.

The effectiveness of this course is dependent upon each of us to create a safe and encouraging learning environment that allows for the open exchange of ideas while also ensuring equitable opportunities and respect for all of us. Everyone is expected to help establish and maintain an environment where students, staff, and faculty can contribute without fear of personal ridicule, or intolerant or offensive language. If you witness or experience racism, discrimination, micro-aggressions, or other offensive behavior, you are encouraged to bring this to the attention of the course director if you feel comfortable. You can also report these behaviors to the Bias Assessment and Response Team (BART) ( Based on your report, BART members will follow up and reach out to students to make sure they have the support they need to be healthy and safe. If the reported behavior also violates university policy, staff in the Office for Student Conflict Resolution may respond as well and will take appropriate action.

Statements relevant for courses with an in-person component for Fall 2020


Following University policy, all students are required to engage in appropriate behavior to protect the health and safety of the community, including wearing a facial covering properly, maintaining social distance (at least 6 feet from others at all times), disinfecting the immediate seating area, and using hand sanitizer. Students are also required to follow the campus COVID-19 testing protocol.

Students who feel ill must not come to class. In addition, students who test positive for COVID-19 or have had an exposure that requires testing and/or quarantine must not attend class. The University will provide information to the instructor, in a manner that complies with privacy laws, about students in these latter categories. These students are judged to have excused absences for the class period and should contact the instructor via email about making up the work.

Students who fail to abide by these rules will first be asked to comply; if they refuse, they will be required to leave the classroom immediately. If a student is asked to leave the classroom, the non- compliant student will be judged to have an unexcused absence and reported to the Office for Student Conflict Resolution for disciplinary action. Accumulation of non-compliance complaints against a student may result in dismissal from the University.

Emergency Response Recommendations

Emergency response recommendations can be found at the following website:  I encourage you to review this website and the campus building floor plans website within the first 10 days of class.


Statements relevant to all courses offered in Fall 2020

Sexual Misconduct Reporting Obligation

The University of Illinois is committed to combating sexual misconduct. Faculty and staff members are required to report any instances of sexual misconduct to the University’s Title IX Office. In turn, an individual with the Title IX Office will provide information about rights and options, including accommodations, support services, the campus disciplinary process, and law enforcement options.

A list of the designated University employees who, as counselors, confidential advisors, and medical professionals, do not have this reporting responsibility and can maintain confidentiality, can be found here:

Other information about resources and reporting is available here:

Academic Integrity

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Student Code should also be considered as a part of this syllabus. Students should pay particular attention to Article 1, Part 4: Academic Integrity. Read the Code at the following URL:

Academic dishonesty may result in a failing grade. Every student is expected to review and abide by the Academic Integrity Policy: Ignorance is not an excuse for any academic dishonesty. It is your responsibility to read this policy to avoid any misunderstanding. Do not hesitate to ask the instructor(s) if you are ever in doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, cheating, or any other breach of academic integrity.

Religious Observances
Illinois law requires the University to reasonably accommodate its students' religious beliefs, observances, and practices in regard to admissions, class attendance, and the scheduling of examinations and work requirements. You should examine this syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts between course deadlines and any of your religious observances. If a conflict exists, you should notify your instructor of the conflict and follow the procedure at to request appropriate accommodations. This should be done in the first two weeks of classes.

Disability-Related Accommodations
To obtain disability-related academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids, students with disabilities must contact the course instructor and the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as soon as possible. To contact DRES, you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-4603, e-mail or go to  If you are concerned you have a disability-related condition that is impacting your academic progress, there are academic screening appointments available that can help diagnosis a previously undiagnosed disability. You may access these by visiting the DRES website and selecting “Request an Academic Screening” at the bottom of the page.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
Any student who has suppressed their directory information pursuant to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) should self-identify to the instructor to ensure protection of the privacy of their attendance in this course. See for more information on FERPA.