This textbook provides the knowledge and skills needed for thorough understanding of the most important methods and ways of thinking in experimental physics. The reader learns to design, assemble, and debug apparatus, to use it to take meaningful data, and to think carefully about the story told by the data.

Key Features:

  • Efficiently helps students grow into independent experimentalists through a combination of structured yet thought-provoking and challenging exercises, student-designed experiments, and guided but open-ended exploration.
  • Provides solid coverage of fundamental background information, explained clearly for undergraduates, such as ground loops, optical alignment techniques, scientific communication, and data acquisition using LabVIEW, Python, or Arduino.
  • Features carefully designed lab experiences to teach fundamentals, including analog electronics and low noise measurements, digital electronics, microcontrollers, FPGAs, computer interfacing, optics, vacuum techniques, and particle detection methods.
  • Offers a broad range of advanced experiments for each major area of physics, from condensed matter to particle physics. Also provides clear guidance for student development of projects not included here.
  • Provides a detailed Instructor’s Manual for every lab, so that the instructor can confidently teach labs outside their own research area.

part Part I|70 pages


chapter 1|4 pages


ByWalter Fox Smith

chapter 2|12 pages

Planning and Carrying Out Experiments

ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 3|10 pages

Presenting Your Results

ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 4|24 pages

Uncertainty and Statistics

ByPaul Thorman

chapter 5|18 pages

Scientific Ethics

ByGrace McKenzie-Smith

part Part II|216 pages

Tools of an Experimentalist

chapter 6|60 pages

Analog Electronics

ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 7|10 pages

Fundamentals of Interfacing Experiments with Computers

ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 8|52 pages

Digital Electronics

ByBrian Collett

chapter 9|32 pages

Data Acquisition and Experiment Control with Python

ByPaul Freeman, Jami Shepherd

chapter 10|20 pages

Basic Optics Techniques and Hardware

ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 11|16 pages

Laser Beams, Polarization, and Interference

ByJustin Peatross, Michael Ware

chapter 12|4 pages


ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 13|20 pages

Particle Detection

ByJoseph Kozminski

part Part III|144 pages

Fields of Physics

chapter 14|10 pages

Development and Supervision of Independent Projects

ByMelissa Eblen-Zayas

chapter 15|8 pages

Condensed Matter Physics

ByWalter F. Smith

chapter 16|20 pages


ByMason Klein

chapter 17|14 pages

Non-Linear, Granular, and Fluid Physics

ByNathan C. Keim

chapter 18|30 pages

Atomic and Molecular Physics

ByRobbie Berg, Glenn Stark

chapter 19|6 pages

Photonics and Fiber Optics

ByJay Sharping, Walter F. Smith

chapter 20|26 pages

Experiments with Entangled Photons

ByEnrique J. Galvez

chapter 21|28 pages

Nuclear and Particle Physics

ByBrett Fadem