Goals of the advanced lab course - FP

The students should conduct demanding experiments from different areas of physics themselves and at the same time

- to develop the experimental implementation of the physical problem with the given means in a target-oriented and time-efficient way

- get to know physical measuring methods

- practice the use of modern measuring instruments

- master complex equipment independently

- Identify and eliminate problems, defects and experimental difficulties;

- to evaluate and critically interpret experimental results;

- practice working with textbooks and original literature to prepare and classify the results.

The emphasis of the lab course is clearly on the experiment. However, the meaningful execution of an experiment also requires a thorough understanding of the Physics theory underlying the experiment.

The lab course is accompanied by a seminar in which the students talk about a completed experiment. The technique of the short talk (duration 20 min), which is also important for later professional life, will be practiced. The discussion that follows each talk should also prepare the participants for appropriate professional situations (conferences, lessons, job interviews, etc.).

General information


1. Mentors:

Each experiment is assigned a mentor whose main task is to help you achieve the above goal. You should therefore seek an interview with the mentor on your own initiative. 


2. Background knowledge:

The contents of Experimental Physics I-IV and the beginnerlab courses AP1-3, Atomic Physics and Solid State Physics are required.

3. Time management:

In FP I, one week is scheduled for each experiment. The following scheme can serve as a guideline for a practical time management:

Day 1: Commissioning of the apparatus
Commissioning of the apparatus. Getting to know individual devices, testing their functionality. Discussions with the mentor and any students who have finished the experiment are absolutely necessary.

2nd - 4th day
Core time for the test execution, including evaluation of the results and deepening the theory.

Day 5: Completion of the experiment
Conclusion of the experiment: possible correction measurements, conclusion of the evaluation and error consideration, critical discussion of the experiment.

The time allocation must take into account the peculiarities of the respective experiment (e.g. warm-up times, pumping times, etc.) as well as the seminar times and opening hours of the practical course.

4. Opening hours:

For security reasons, the FP is only open from Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. In addition, experiments can only be carried out in justified exceptional cases in agreement with the mentor and in principle in a team of at least 2 persons. Keys are available from the FP technician.


5. Manual of the experiments:

The instructions contain a fixed task definition. However, you are also expected to take the initiative to expand or reshape the task, to make changes to the equipment, etc., if necessary. However, before you do this, discuss your project with the mentor.

The operating manuals of the devices must always be read thoroughly before commissioning. The following always applies: Think about the consequences before experimenting. By observing this elementary rule, considerable damage can often be avoided. If damage has nevertheless occurred or if defects are detected, inform the mentor or the head of the FP immediately so that remedial action can be taken.

Instructions can be borrowed from the practical course. Common textbooks and monographs are available in the handset and can be borrowed from the FP technician. Since the number of books is limited, we ask you to return them punctually in order to take care of your successors.

6. Safety regulations:

Please observe the relevant safety instructions on the webpage under safety or the black board out of your own interest!

Talk to the mentors about possible sources of danger. In case of doubt, seek advice on what the danger is and how it can be avoided.

7. Written elaboration - the practical course booklet and report:

The report should be understandable and complete. It should allow an exact reconstruction of your experimental conditions in case of later discussion. All entries must be dated and should be handwritten.

Use a bound booklets in DIN A4 format as possible. Flying sheets are not accepted.

A usual structure is the following:

Introduction with tasks and classification of the physical topic

Theory part (max. 5 pages) with the theory required for the experiment and formulas for evaluation.

The experiment protocol with handwritten data acquisition. If data is recorded directly using a computer, the file names with date and time of recording must be noted in the protocol. In general, a sketch of the setup with all necessary distances and designations is also useful. An evaluation of the measurement data should be carried out immediately in order to identify possible systematic errors directly. Carefully note down dimensions, device type and type of measured value recording. An important part of every measurement is a meaningful error discussion, i.e. error estimation based on experience and information on the measuring instrument.

Evaluation of the final results with discussion, classification and comparison with the expectations (if necessary literature comparisons).


In principle, the reports are to be written by hand and in a bound DINA4 booklet!

This applies to the theoretical part as well as to the original data and the evaluation.

The only exceptions are

- illustrations from textbooks in the theoretical part, which are to be provided with references,

- computer generated tables and graphs with the original data and the evaluation.

In such cases, these copies or computer prints must be glued into the booklet, extensive computer printouts with measurement data, which cannot all be documented in the protocol booklet should be enclosed as an appendix in a DIN A4 binder. However, make sure that the inscription is chronological and comprehensible.

Rules for the submission of the reports and dates of consultation:

FP 1:

reports must be submitted no later than one week after the end of each experiment

(delivery on the following Monday until 09:00 pm also possible)
Consultation no later than two weeks after end of each experiment


Protocol submission 10 days after end of test at the latest


8. Ensuring good scientific practice:

Data and evaluations without reference to a source are considered as self-measured or self-created.

The use of external data or evaluations without source is considered as an attempt to cheat!

- In such cases, the experiment will be evaluated as invalid and must be replaced by an additional experiment (preferably from the same subject area).

- This replacement attempt, which may have to be carried out after the end of the lab course period, must be successfully completed, but does not score any points. If the overall goal (at least 50% of the maximum number of points) is not achieved as a result of this missing evaluation, the course will be considered as failed!


9. Seminar:

A physicist must be able to bring the matter, which he has learned, understood and interpreted with much effort, time and mental effort, to a physically educated, but not specialized audience in a short, understandable, but nevertheless scientifically exact form. The seminar affiliated to the FP is intended to provide an initial practice of this art.

As a listener, the physicist must learn to use the questions to induce the lecturer to clarify still open problems. The discussion can contribute substantially to the understanding of the matter, and each lecturer should welcome a lively discussion about its lecture. Mentors and leaders of FP will try to create such a discussion. The asked questions will not be interpreted to the disadvantage of the lecturer.

The topic of the respective seminar talk results from your first experiment. The background, methods and results of this experiment or meaningful parts of it should be presented.

Address the talk to your fellow students who have not (yet) made the special experiment. The duration of the talk should be 20 minutes. The lecture should neither be too elementary nor go over the heads of the listeners. An introduction on how to give a good lecture will be given at the beginning of the FP .

After a discussion of the physics mentioned above, the technical form and nature of the presentation will also be discussed. Use this discussion to learn which didactic tools have been well received and which you should improve.

The talk will be evaluated and weighted into the overall grade of the FP like one experiment.


10. Grading :

The mentors evaluate the performance in theory, experiment and protocol. Each participant of an experimental group is evaluated as individually as possible. The evaluation of the protocol only affects the student who has written the report.

Integer evaluation numbers from 0 (very weak) to 15 (excellent) are used. In order to obtain very good/excellent evaluations, as a rule more than the required test program must be provided. In detail are evaluated:

Theory: Evaluation of the theoretical pre- and general knowledge, as expressed in discussions at the experiment and in the consultation. The protocol should here - if at all - only be taken into account marginally. If the trainees start the experiment so poorly prepared that a meaningful execution of the experiment seems impossible, an additional day for the preparation should be imposed on them (with corresponding deduction of points).

Experiment: Skill in carrying out the experiment; inventiveness, flexibility, activity at the experiment etc., quality of the measurement results (inclusion of the measurement data in the protocol). If the measurement results are unusable without a comprehensible reason, or if they were obviously falsified, the experiment cannot be evaluated.

Protocol/Report:   Evaluation, above all, of the critical evaluation and discussion of the measurement data. The theoretical part is only included if gross errors occur. The evaluation number is entered with the person who prepared the protocol. Gross errors in the protocol, especially in the evaluation of the measurement data, must be corrected and will be documented with a corresponding deduction of points as well as a delayed submission of the protocol.

Exclusion is the average of the evaluation numbers for theory, experiment and protocol:  If the average of the evaluation numbers for theory, experiment and protocol (the latter only for the writer) for an experiment is less than 4 points, the experiment cannot be evaluated (for the trainee concerned).

Seminar: The seminar talk will be evaluated with a grade. This is included in the overall grade like one experiment (i.e. 5/30 for FP1, 5/20 FP2).

The overall grade is calculated from the arithmetic middle of the individual grades. The modul FP is passed if the grade is sufficient (4.0 or 5 points) and all attempts as well as the seminar were passed with at least 4 points.


H. Hotop  Feb. 2005

revised C. Döring  Feb. 2018

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