UPSC: Physics Optional syllabus for UPSC IAS Mains is highly specialized and the syllabus is suitable for candidates who have studied physics at the graduate level. The syllabus of the Physics optional includes statics and dynamics, thermodynamics, relativity, electricity and magnetism, quantum theory, and solid-state semiconductors among other core topics. It is recommended that candidates should primarily be thorough with the syllabus before choosing any optional. Check below the Physics optional syllabus for UPSC IAS Mains 2020.
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UPSC Optional Syllabus for Physics- Paper I
Section A |
- Classical Mechanics:
1.1. Particle dynamics:
- Centre of mass and laboratory coordinates, conservation of linear and angular momentum.
- The rocket equation.
- Rutherford scattering, Galilean transformation, inertial and non-inertial frames, rotating frames, centrifugal and Coriolis forces, Foucault pendulum.
1.2. System of particles:
- Constraints, degrees of freedom, generalised coordinates and momenta.
- Lagrange's equation and applications to linear harmonic oscillator, simple pendulum and central force problems.
- Cyclic coordinates, Hamiltonian Lagrange's equation from Hamilton's principle.
1.3. Rigid body dynamics:
- Eulerian angles, inertia tensor, principal moments of inertia.
- Euler's equation of motion of a rigid body, force-free motion of a rigid body.
- Gyroscope.
- Special Relativity, Waves & Geometrical Optics:
2.1. Special Relativity:
- Michelson-Morley experiment and its implications.
- Lorentz transformations- length contraction, time dilation, addition of velocities, aberration and Doppler effect, mass-energy relation, simple applications to a decay process.
- Minkowski diagram, four dimensional momentum vector.
- Covariance of equations of physics.
2.2.Waves:
- Simple harmonic motion, damped oscillation, forced oscillation and resonance.
- Beats.
- Stationary waves in a string.
- Pulses and wave packets.
- Phase and group velocities.
- Reflection and Refraction from Huygens' principle.
2.3. Geometrical Optics:
- Laws of reflection and refraction from Fermat's principle.
- Matrix method in paraxial optic-thin lens formula, nodal planes, system of two thin lenses, chromatic and spherical aberrations.
- Physical Optics:
- 3.1. Interference:
- Interference of light-Young's experiment, Newton's rings, interference by thin films, Michelson interferometer.
- Multiple beam interference and Fabry-Perot interferometer.
- Holography and simple applications.
- 3.2. Diffraction:
- Fraunhofer diffraction-single slit, double slit, diffraction grating, resolving power.
- Fresnel diffraction: - half-period zones and zones plates.
- Fresnel integrals.
- Application of Cornu's spiral to the analysis of diffraction at a straight edge and by a long narrow slit.
- Diffraction by a circular aperture and the Airy pattern.
3.3. Polarisation and Modern Optics:
- Production and detection of linearly and circularly polarised light.
- Double refraction, quarter wave plate.
- Optical activity.
- Principles of fibre optics attenuation; pulse dispersion in step index and parabolic index fibres; material dispersion, single mode fibres.
- Lasers- Einstein A and B coefficients.
- Ruby and He-Ne lasers. Characteristics of laser light-spatial and temporal coherence. Focussing of laser beams.
- Three-level scheme for laser operation.
Section B |
- Quantum Mechanics I:
- Wave-particle dualitiy.
- Schroedinger equation and expectation values.
- Uncertainty principle.
- Solutions of the one-dimensional Schroedinger equation free particle (Gaussian wave-packet), particle in a box, particle in a finite well, linear harmonic oscillator. Reflection and transmission by a potential step and by a rectangular barrier.
- Use of WKB formula for the life-time calculation in the alpha-decay problem.
- Quantum Mechanics II & Atomic Physics:
2.1. Quantum Mechanics II:
- Particle in a three dimensional box, density of states, free electron theory of metals.
- The angular meomentum problem.
- The hydrogen atom.
- The spin half problem and properties of Pauli spin matrices.
2.2. Atomic Physics:
- Stern-Gerlack experiment, electron spin, fine structure of hydrogen atom.
- L-S coupling, J-J coupling.
- Spectroscopic notation of atomic states. Zeeman effect.
- Frank-Condon principle and applications.
- Molecular Physics:
- Elementary theory of rotational, vibrational and electronic spectra of diatomic molecules.
- Raman effect and molecular structure.
- Laser Raman spectroscopy Importance of neutral hydrogen atom, molecular hydrogen and molecular hydrogen ion in astronomy Fluorescence and Phosphorescence. Elementary theory and applications of NMR.
- Elementary ideas about Lamb shift and its significance
UPSC Optional Syllabus for Physics- Paper II
- Quantum Mechanics:
Wave-particle dualitiy; Schroedinger equation and expectation values; Uncertainty principle; Solutions of the one-dimensional Schroedinger equation for a free particle (Gaussian wave-packet), particle in a box, particle in a finite well, linear harmonic oscillator; Reflection and transmission by a step potential and by a rectangular barrier; Particle in a three dimensional box, density of states, free electron theory of metals; Angular momentum; Hydrogen atom; Spin half particles, properties of Pauli spin matrices.
- Atomic and Molecular Physics:
Stern-Gerlach experiment, electron spin, fine structure of hydrogen atom; L-S coupling, J-J coupling; Spectroscopic notation of atomic states; Zeeman effect; FrankCondon principle and applications; Elementary theory of rotational, vibratonal and electronic spectra of diatomic molecules; Raman effect and molecular structure; Laser Raman spectroscopy; Importance of neutral hydrogen atom, molecular hydrogen and molecular hydrogen ion in astronomy; Fluorescence and Phosphorescence; Elementary theory and applications of NMR and EPR; Elementary ideas about Lamb shift and its significance.
- Nuclear and Particle Physics:
Basic nuclear properties-size, binding energy, angular momentum, parity, magnetic moment; Semi-empirical mass formula and appl icat ions, mass parabolas; Ground state of deuteron, magnetic moment and non-central forces; Meson theory of nuclear forces; Salient features of nuclear forces;Shell model of the nucleus - successes and limitations; Violation of parity in beta decay; Gamma decay and internal conversion; Elementary ideas about Mossbauer spectroscopy; Q-value of nuclear reactions; Nuclear fission and fusion, energy production in stars; Nuclear reactors.
Classification of elementary particles and their interactions ; Conservation laws ; Quark structure of hadrons; Field quanta of electroweak and strong interactions; Elementary ideas about unification of forces; Physics of neutrinos.
- Solid State Physics, Devices and Electronics:
Crystalline and amorphous structure of matter; Different crystal systems, space groups; Methods of determination of crystal structure; X-ray diffraction, scanning and transmission electron microscopies; Band theory of solids - conductors, insulators and semiconductors; Thermal properties of solids, specific heat, Debye theory; Magnetism: dia, para and ferromagnetism; Elements of superconductivity, Meissner effect, Josephson junctions and applications; Elementary ideas about high temperature superconductivity.
Intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors; pn-p and n-p-n transistors; Amplifiers and oscillators; Op-amps; FET, JFET and MOSFET; Digital electronics-Boolean identities, De Morgan's laws, logic gates and truth tables; Simple logic circuits; Thermistors, solar cells; Fundamentals of microprocessors and digital computers.
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