Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics
Energy and Thermal Physics

Episode 604: Preparation for thermodynamics topic

Teaching Guidance for 16-19 IOP TAP

There is great variation between exam specifications in this area, so you are advised to check carefully which aspects you need to cover.

Main aims of this topic

Thermal physics

Students will:

  • be able to recall the first law of thermodynamics and understand how it relates to the conservation of energy
  • calculate the efficiency of energy transfer and the maximum thermal efficiency
  • perform calculations using specific heat capacity and latent heat

Prior knowledge

If students have already studied the kinetic theory of gases, they should understand that interal energy is a combination of the energy stored kinetically (in the motion of the molecules) and the energy stored chemically (in the bonds between them). They should be able to relate the temperature to the mean energy per molecule and recall that the energy is distributed randomly amongst molecules in a well understood way.

Where this leads

This topic merely scratches the surface of the subject of thermodynamics. Those students who go on to study Physics, Chemistry or Engineering will learn a lot more about this subject.

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