Experimental determination of heat capacities and their correlation with quantum predictions

Research paper by Waqas Mahmood, Muhammad Sabieh Anwar, Wasif Zia

Indexed on: 12 Jun '11Published on: 12 Jun '11Published in: Physics - Physics Education


This article demonstrates an undergraduate experiment for the determination of specific heat capacities of various solids based on a calorimetric approach, where the solid vaporizes a measurable mass of liquid nitrogen. We demonstrate our technique for the metals copper and aluminum, the semi-metal graphite and also present the data in relation with Einstein's model of independent harmonic oscillators and the more accurate Debye model based on vibrational modes of a continuous crystal. Furthermore, we elucidate an interesting material property, the Verwey transition in magnetite occurring around 120-140 K. We also demonstrate that the use of computer based data acquisition and subsequent statistical averaging helps reduce measurement uncertainties.