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Second Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


The aims of the course are a) a detailed understanding of the principles of electromagnetism, using an elementary formalism based only on derivatives, integrals and a minimum of vector algebra; b) the skills to solve typical problems, which sometimes are complementary to the central theory.

The skills that are taught are a) the precise formulation of the physical problem; b) the choice of the formalism relevant to the solution of the problem; c) the symbolic and and numerical solution of the problem. The solution of elementary problems illustrate the solution techniques and the interpretation of the problems.

3. Autonomy of judgement

The intellectual autonomy is stimulated by several factors that are required during the solution of problems: a) the choice and the verification of the applicability of approximations to be applied or not in the formulation of the problem; b) the numerical interpretation o the physical quantities applicable to the equations that are used. c) the verification of the correct use of the physical quantities, e.g. dimensional analysis.

4. Communication skills

The course aids communication skills given a) the necessity to formulate the problem explicitly, and b) the necessity to present the results, including the physical and numerical assumptions, completely, comprehensibly and concisely.

5. Learning skills

The student is exposed to problem solving autonomously, requiring to develop an open mindset end to experiment with different problem solving methods, while getting exposed to new skills

Knowledge of electrostatics and electrodynamics, and ability to solve practical problems involving DC and AC circuits, electromagnets, etc.


Elements of calculus (derivatives, integrals, simple differential equations) and vector calculus. Elementary mechanics of point-like and rigid bodies. All the necessary notions will be recalled in class.


1 - Electrostatics

Electric charge. Conductors and insulators. Coulomb’s law; electric field and field lines. Field generated by charge distributions. Flux of the electric field. Gauss’s law and first Maxwell equation. Applications to various charge distributions. Electrostatic potential and potential energy. Equipotential surfaces. Potential generated by charge distributions; potential and field in a conductor. Field-potential relationship and second Maxwell equation.

 2 - Capacitors

Capacity and capacitors. Flat, spherical, and cylindrical capacitor. Capacitors in series and in parallel. Energy density associated to the field in a capacitor. Capacitor with a dielectric medium. Polarization and dielectric response. Dielectric constant. Energy density in a dielectric-filled capacitor.

3 - Circuits

Current and current density. Microscopic model of conduction in materials. Resistance and conductance. Ohm’s law. Power, Joule effect and applications. Conductors, insulators, semiconductors. Electromotive force. Resistors in series e in parallel. Kirchhoff’s rules for circuits. RC circuits and their properties.

4 - Magnetic field in vacuum

Magnetic force and magnetic field. Solenoidal field and third Maxwell equation. Magnetic force on a current-carrying wire. Mechanical moment on a loop. Magnetic dipole moment generated by a current. Biot-Savart’s and Ampere’s laws. Field generated by an infinite wire, an infinite solenoid, and a toroid. Force between two parallel wires. Field-current relations and fourth Maxwell equation (Ampere version).

5 - Electromagnetic induction

Faraday-Lenz’s law, and completion of second Maxwell equation. Electromotive force in a moving loop; principle of the DC electric motor. Rotating loop and principle of the AC motor. Rowland’s disk and electromagnetic brakes. Mutual induction and self-induction. RL circuit: magnetic energy density.  LC circuit and oscillations. RLC circuit: damped oscillations and critical damping. RLC circuit with AC source: reactance, inductance, resonance; phasor formalism. Transformer, qualitatively.

6 - Maxwell equations and electromagnetic waves

Displacement current and Ampere-Maxwell’s law; completion of fourth Maxwell equation. Integral and differential form of Maxwell’s equations in vacuum. Derivation of the existence of electromagnetic waves.

Electromagnetic waves: properties, spectrum, propagation, generation. Transported energy, Poynting vector, intensity. Speed of light in vacuum and in matter. Radiation pressure. The origin of magnetic forces from electrostatics and relativity.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and recitations, approximately in a 50:20 ratio. Recitations are ideally split in 3 parts: demonstration exercise, exercise solved by students, correction. Texts and solutions are provided on the web site.

Lectures will be in presence, integrated with online elements, aiming for innovative and incluse teaching

Verification of learning

Written exam, about 6 questions, duration 2 hours. Possibility to participate to weekly online tests to obtain up to 2 bonus points (on a scale of 30) for the final exam.


"Fondamenti di Fisica - Elettromagnetismo/ottica"-Halliday-Resnick-Walker Settima edizione 2015
Casa Editrice Ambrosiana / Zanichelli

More Information

The page
and or the e-learning paged linked from there, provides slides of the lectures, exercises and previous exams.

Meet-up by appointment at Dip Fisica, Cittadella Universitaria.

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