Jun 03, 2023  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)

PHY 3810 - Introduction to Biophysics

3 lecture hours 0 lab hours 3 credits
Course Description
This course focuses on utilizing the basic principles of physics to study biological systems at the molecular and cellular levels. The focus is on the physical aspects of structure and function of living cells and their subsystems. Physical models will be applied to understand many biological systems at a quantitative level. The topics covered during the course are divided to five parts: introduction part which provides basic information on biology such as description of cells, macromolecules, chemical components of cells, and physical aspects of cell function and structure. The mechanics part includes random walk, Brownian motion, diffusion, sedimentation. Osmotic pressure, beam theory, and mechanical properties of biopolymers such as elasticity. Bio-electricity part includes neuro-biophysics (nerve signals, action potentials; membrane potential, membrane channels and pumps and molecular motors, nerve impulses and cable equation). The fourth part includes an introduction to some techniques applied for biological discoveries such as electron microscopy, emission spectroscopy absorption, X-Ray diffraction and nuclear magnetic resonance. Concepts of quantum mechanics that applied to biological systems, molecular potentials and chemical bonds, chemical reactions, molecular orbital, rates of actions and spectroscopy will be introduced. This course meets the following Raider Core CLO requirement: Think Critically. (prereq: PHY 1120 ) (quarter system prereq: PH 2021)
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Apply the laws of physics (mechanics, dynamics, electricity and magnetism) to understand the biology of living systems and discover models that characterize biological phenomena
  • Apply the physics of random walk, Brownian motion, friction, diffusion equation and Fick’s law to biological systems
  • Describe osmotic pressure and use Van’t Hoff relation, Laplace’s formula and physical aspects of surface tension to calculate the pressure inside the cell
  • Understand the beam theory and mechanical properties of biopolymers such as elasticity
  • Explain how living cells generate electricity, and describe the molecular machines in membranes, the ion pumping, and the rotary motors
  • Understand nerve impulses and describe ionic basis of resting membrane potential and actual potential                                                             
  • Describe some experimental techniques related to physical concepts and understand how they can be applied to study biological systems
  • Describe basic concepts in quantum mechanics that can be used to understand some basic physical and chemical topics such as molecular potential, reaction rate, emission and absorption
  • Develop scientific writing and communication skills through the work on a term paper related to biophysics field and presenting the work in the class

Prerequisites by Topic
  • Mechanics
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism

Course Topics
  • Cellular components and biological molecules: the physical aspects of cell function and structure, hierarchy, molecular components, and molecular devices
  • Mechanics: beam theory, mechanical properties of biopolymers such as elasticity
  • Electricity and magnetism: molecular machines in membranes, electro osmotic effects, Donnan equilibrium, ion pumping, rotary motors, nerve impulses, ion channels, action potential, cable equation, describe the salty environment of cells, the free energies for beams and membranes that define cellular structure
  • Physical techniques applied for biological discoveries (X-Ray, electron microscopy, Emission and absorption spectra, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy)
  • Biophysical chemistry: chemical bonds (molecular potentials - bonding and non-bonding), chemical reactions, molecular orbital, rates of reactions, lights (UV/VIS IR) - emission/absorption spectroscopy)

Dr. Nazieh Masoud

Add to Portfolio (opens a new window)