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Home exam FYS2160, autumn 2011

Problem 1 Consider a two-dimensional system with an area A, internal energy U and a number of particles N. The entropy S can be expressed as a function of U, A and N. a) Show that the thermodynamic identity for the system takes the form: T dS = dU dA dN , (1)

where is the surface tension (force per length). Hint: Use the dierential dS as a starting point. We assume that is a positive quantity that only depends on the temperature. Comment on the sign of the term dA in the thermodynamic identity above. Verify that the surface energy U equals: U(T, A) = (T )A . (2)

It can be shown that this expression for the internal energy of a two-dimensional system also applies for curved surfaces, like the surface of a spherical droplet (not part of the present problem). b) Now, consider a spherical droplet of water containing Nl molecules, surrounded by N Nl molecules of water vapour (N is constant). Write down an expression for the Gibbs free energy G for the system consisting of the droplet and the surrounding water vapour, neglecting the surface tension of the droplet (hint: use Eq. (5.37) from the textbook). Express G in terms of N, Nl and the chemical potentials l and g for liquid water and water vapour, respectively. Rewrite Nl in terms of the volume vl per molecule in the droplet, and the radius r of the droplet. c) Add to your expression for G from b) the internal energy for the surface from a), expressed by r and . Now you have the total Gibbs free energy Gtotal for the whole system droplet, surface and surrounding vapour. Draw a qualitative graph of Gtotal as a function of r for both signs of l g . For what sign of l g does there exist a non-zero equilibrium radius re ? Is this equilibrium stable? d) Determine the equilibrium radius re that you discussed in a qualitative way in c). Express re in terms of g l . e) Apply Eq. (5.40) from the textbook for g (ideal gas). Assume that l only depends on T , and is given by l = l (T, P ), where P is a convenient reference pressure. What would be the most natural choice of reference pressure P ? Show that: re = 2vl kT ln


Comment on the physical meaning of the pressure in this situation. 1

f) Calculate re at T = 20 C, with = 0.073 Jm2 , vl = 3.0 1029 m3 , and Comment on the result.


= 1.10.

Problem 2 The permitted energy values for a massless (or ultrarelativistic) particle (kinetic energy much larger than rest energy) in a 3-dimensional cubic box of volume V = L3 , can be expressed in terms of the quantum numbers nx , ny and nz : = hc n2 + n2 + n2 x y z 2L , (4)

where nx , ny and nz must be positive integers. a) What are the lowest two energy levels for this system and their degeneracy? Write down an expression for the canonical partition function Z1 for 1 particle at low temperature T . Determine the energy U and heat capacity CV in the limit of low T . Draw a qualitative sketch of U(T ) and CV (T ) at low T , and comment on their temperature dependence. b) Write down a sum giving the one-particle partition function Z1 for an arbitrary temperature. Show that Z1 in the high-temperature limit can be written on the form: Z1 = 8V kT hc


c) Determine the Helmholtz energy F for a gas consisting of N indistinguishable ultrarelativistic particles. We assume that the system is dilute enough that Boltzmann statistics can be applied. Also determine the pressure P and the chemical potential . In many cases (e.g. whenever particles are created or destroyed, as in chemical reactions) we need to to consider the rest energy contribution to the thermodynamic potentials of each particle species, in addition to the thermal contribution. The total energy U and also the Helmholtz free energy F = U T S then get an additional term due to the rest energy of N particles: F = Ftotal = Fthermal (T, V, N) + Nmc2 , (6)

where mc2 is the rest energy per particle. How will this extra energy term modify the chemical potential ? d) The (thermal) chemical potential for a dilute gas consisting of N indistinguishable, nonrelativistic particles (ideal non-relativistic gas) is given in the textbook as: V = kT ln N

2mkT h2



We consider the chemical reaction where neutrons undergo -decay into protons and electrons, with a possibility for the reverse reaction with protons absorbing electrons and 2

turning into neutrons (for simplicity, we neglect the promptly escaping neutrinos involved in the reaction): n p+ + e (8)

The reverse reaction can actually take place in very dense stellar matter, creating neutron matter from ordinary matter. The particles have the following rest masses: Neutron: mn = 1.67492729 1027 kg; Proton: mp = 1.67262137 1027 kg; Electron: me = 9.10938215 1031 kg. What is the equilibrium condition for this reaction? Show that the ratio between the numbers of neutrons and protons can be expressed as: Nn 1 Np = Np 8 V hc kT

(mn mp me )c2 kT


Hint: We can assume overall electrical neutrality for the matter. Also, small terms can be neglected. Give a rough estimate of this ratio for standard conditions (T = 298 K, P = 105 bar for all participating gases). Discuss qualitatively the dependence on the matter density and the temperature. e) An alternative way of treating this reaction is by considering the proton as a small system which can be empty (the proton, in the presence of a free electron) or occupied by one electron (forming a neutron). Write down the Gibbs sum for this system, and use the associated probabilities to determine the ratio between the numbers of neutrons and protons, Nn . Compare the result obtained using Gibbs statistics (grand canonical Np ensemble) to the one from d). Hint: In this case, the electrons can be assumed to pre-exist in a large reservoir (in the same volume as the protons), and do not need to be created from scratch. We still assume electrically neutral matter. f) This problem describes a very poor and unrealistic model for describing the chemical reaction between ordinary matter and neutron matter in a neutron star. What erroneous assumptions have we made? What improvements to the model would you suggest, to make it more realistic? (Only brief qualitative explanations are required.)

Good luck!