Freshman Labs

All Caltech students are required to take at least 12 units of lab intensive courses.  6 of these units must be either
  • Ch 3 a Fundamental Techniques of Experimental Chemistry. 6 units (1-3-2); first, second, third terms. Introduces the basic principles and techniques of synthesis and analysis and develops the laboratory skills and precision that are fundamental to experimental chemistry.
  • Ch 3 x -  Experimental Methods in Solar Energy Conversion. 6 units (1-3-2); first, second, third terms. Introduces concepts and laboratory methods in chemistry and materials science centered on the theme of solar energy conversion and storage. Students will perform experiments involving optical spectroscopy, electrochemistry, laser spectroscopy, nanoparticle synthesis, photochemistry, and photoelectrochemistry, culminating in the construction and testing of dye-sensitized solar cells.
The other 6 units may be filled by any of
  • APh/EE 9 ab - Solid-State Electronics for Integrated Circuits. 6 units (2-2-2); first, third terms. Introduction to solid-state electronics, including physical modeling and device fabrication. Topics: semiconductor crystal growth and device fabrication technology, carrier modeling, doping, generation and recombination, pn junction diodes, MOS capacitor and MOS transistor operation, and deviations from ideal behavior. Laboratory includes computer-aided layout, and fabrication and testing of light-emitting diodes, transistors, and inverters. Students learn photolithography, and use of vacuum systems, furnaces, and device-testing equipment.
  • APh 24Introductory Modern Optics Laboratory. 6 units (0-4-2); third term. Prerequisite: APh 23. Laboratory experiments to acquaint students with the contemporary aspects of modern optical research and technology. Experiments encompass many of the topics and concepts covered in APh 23.
  • Bi 10Introductory Biology Laboratory. 6 units (1-3-2); third term. Prerequisites: Bi 8; designed to be taken concurrently with Bi 9. An introduction to molecular, cellular, and biochemical techniques that are commonly used in studies of biological systems at the molecular level.
  • Ch 4 abSynthesis and Analysis of Organic and Inorganic Compounds. 9 units (1-6-2). Prerequisites: Ch 1 (or the equivalent) and Ch 3 a or Ch 3 x. Previous or concurrent enrollment in Ch 41 is strongly recommended. Introduction to methods of synthesis, separation, purification, and characterization used routinely in chemical research laboratories. Ch 4 a focuses on the synthesis and analysis of organic molecules; Ch 4 b focuses on the synthesis and analysis of inorganic and organometallic molecules. Ch 4 a, second term; Ch 4 b, third term
  • Ch 8Experimental Procedures of Synthetic Chemistry. 9 units (1-6-2); first term. Prerequisites: Ch 1 ab and Ch 3 a or Ch 3 x. Previous or concurrent enrollment in Ch 41 is strongly recommended. Introduction to the synthesis of organic and organometallic compounds, and to methods of separation, purification, and spectroscopic characterization used in chemical research.
  • Ch/ChE 9Chemical Synthesis and Characterization for Chemical Engineering. 9 units (1-6-2); third term. Prerequisites: Ch 1 ab and Ch 3 a or Ch 3 x. Previous or concurrent enrollment in Ch 41 is strongly recommended. Instruction in synthesis, separation, purification, and physical and spectroscopic characterization procedures of model organic and inorganic materials, with emphasis on chemical reactions such as polymerization, catalysis, and light absorption and emission. Enrollment priority given to chemical engineering majors.
  • EE/ME 7Introduction to Mechatronics. 6 units (2-3-1); second term. Mechatronics is the multi-disciplinary design of electro-mechanical systems. This course is intended to give the student a basic introduction to such systems. The course will focus on the implementations of sensor and actuator systems, the mechanical devices involved and the electrical circuits needed to interface with them. The class will consist of lectures and short labs where the student will be able to investigate the concepts discussed in lecture. Topics covered include motors, piezoelectric devices, light sensors, ultrasonic transducers, and navigational sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes.
  • Ge 116Analytical Techniques Laboratory. 9 units (1-4-4); second term. Prerequisites: Ge 114 a or instructor’s permission.Methods of quantitative laboratory analysis of rocks, minerals, and fluids in geological and planetary sciences. Consists of five intensive two-week modules covering scanning electron microscopy (imaging, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, electron backscatter diffraction); the electron microprobe (wavelength-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy); X-ray powder diffraction; optical, infrared, and Raman spectroscopy; and plasma source mass spectrometry for elemental and radiogenic isotope analysis. Satisfies the Institute core requirement for an additional introductory laboratory course.
  • Ph 3Physics Laboratory. 6 units (0-3-3); first, second, third terms. Prerequisite: Ph 1 a or instructor’s permission. An introduction to experimental techniques and instruments used in the physical sciences, covering topics in classical mechanics, basic electronic circuits, and optics. Special emphasis is given to data analysis techniques based on modern statistical methods. The weekly structure of the course includes one three-hour laboratory session, a conference with the instructor, a set of pre-lab problems, and analysis of experimental results. Graded pass/fail unless a letter grade is requested. Only one term may be taken for credit.
  • Ph 5Analog Electonics for Physicists. 9 units (0-5-4); first term. Prerequisites: Ph 1 abc, Ph 3, or equivalents (Ph 8 may be subsituted for Ph 3). A laboratory course focusing on practical electronic circuits, with emphasis on analog electronics. The following topics are studied: RC circuits, electrical oscillations, operational amplifiers, diodes and transistors, combining circuit elements, and computer data acquisition. The course culminates in a two-week project of the student’s choosing.
  • Ph 8 bcExperiments in Electromagnetism. 3 units (0-3-0); second, third terms. Prerequisite: Ph 1 a. A two-term sequence of experiments that parallel the material of Ph 1 bc. It includes measuring the force between wires with a homemade analytical balance, measuring properties of a 1,000-volt spark, and building and studying a radio-wave transmitter and receiver. The take-home experiments are constructed from a kit of tools and electronic parts. Measurements are compared to theoretical expectations.