Ph77 - Caltech Senior Physics Laboratory

Course Description

Ph77 is a two-term, Senior-level course in experimental physics. Ph77a is offered every term, and Ph77b is offered second and third terms. Ph77a is a prerequisite to Ph77b.

There are two sections in the class, and there are five standard tracks in each section. Special design-and-build tracks are sometimes offered, and if you come to us with an idea for a project, we can usually set up a track for you to do that as well. Class times and locations are

OM: 210 East Bridge 3:00pm-4:00pm Monday, January 6 only

Thursday Section: 210 East Bridge 10:00am-4:00pm
Friday Section: 210 East Bridge 10:00am-4:00pm

Lab work is done during class time. There are no lectures.

Grades, writeups, and lab notebooks

You must do all the labs in your track and hand in a notebook for each to complete the course. Grades are based on lab notebooks and, where applicable, prelab exercises. For labs with prelab exercises, grades are weighted as follows.

Prelabs 33%
Notebooks 67%

For labs without prelab exercises, 100% of the grade is determined by the notebook.

For most of the labs, there is no post-lab analysis. Your writeup is your lab notebook, and you should analyze your data as you do the lab. All entries should be in ink, with any mistakes crossed out by a single line. Neatness counts! Use graphics, printouts, and screenshots liberally. For more details, see

Collaboration policy: As in research, you may collaborate with anyone you like. Also just as in research, be sure to give them credit by listing their names at the top of your work.


The following schedule is for both Thursday and Friday sections.

Due Date Electronics-A Electronics-B Atomic-A Atomic-B Optics-A
Jan. 9-10 Test Electronics and Digital Data Acquisition Test Electronics and Digital Data Acquisition Exp. 5-Prelab I Exp. 8-Prelab I Exp. 61-Prelab
Jan. 16-17 FFT DAQ Exp. 5-Notebook I, Prelab II Exp. 8-Notebook I, Prelab II Exp. 61-Notebook
Jan. 23-24 Filtering and transfer functions Lock-In I Exp. 5-Notebook II Exp. 62-Prelab
Jan. 30-31 Feedback control Lock-In II Exp. 7-Prelab and Notebook Exp. 8-Notebook II Exp. 62-Notebook
Feb. 6-7 Midterms: Lab Closed
Feb. 13-14 DAQ Transmission lines Exp. 8-Prelab I Exp. 7-Prelab and Notebook Fabry-Perot Cavities Prelab
Feb. 20-21 Lock-In I FFT Exp. 8-Notebook I, Prelab II Exp. 5-Prelab I Fabry-Perot Cavities Notebook
Feb. 27-28 Lock-In II Filtering and transfer functions Exp. 5-Notebook I, Prelab II Gaussian Optics Prelab
Mar. 5-6 Transmission lines Feedback control Exp. 8-Notebook II Exp. 5-Notebook II Gaussian Optics Notebook

Due Dates and Late Penalties:

Notebooks are due by end of class on Thursdays or Fridays, depending on your section, as listed in the table.

Late penalties are one full letter grade per week late.

Contact Information

PMA - Caltech Department of Physics, Math, and Astronomy.

Other physics courses at Caltech.

Last updated January 6, 2019.