Overview - Advanced Physical Laboratory

Some general information about the Advanced Physical Laboratory.

1. Schedule

  • Meeting with the tutors on the first Tuesday of the winter term. Forming groups of two persons.
  • Seven experimental days have to be performed in the winter term and nine days in the summer term.

2. Organizational

The experiments are performed in two-person groups and are supervised by a tutor. All tutors are PhD students or postdocs at the Department of Physics.

3. Assignment of the experiments

The experiments are assigned after the groups are formed. The descriptions and the manuals for each experiment are handed out by the tutor. Please contact your tutor at least one week in advance of your scheduled experiment.

Each experiment is divided into four sections:

  • Theoretical preparation for the experiment
  • Performing the actual experiment
  • Elaboration of a written report and submission to the tutor within 14 days after the experiment
  • Revisions

You will only pass the experiment once your tutor is happy with your last revision. In the following, detailed information is provided on the work routine.


One week before the next scheduled experiment, you should contact the tutor. He will provide you with the relevant literature and will discuss with you the important points for the preparation of the experiment.

Short manual:

On the allocation of the experiment you will get a printed short manual that you can keep. It contains all essential information about the experiment (e.g., description of the experiment, reference to literature, a specified setting of tasks, hints to the experimental procedure and for the evaluation).

Other information material:

For some experiments you will get more extensive information. Please return this material to the tutor, not later than a week after the experiment (for the next group)!

Entrance colloquium:

Before starting the actual experiment, the tutor will verify in a sort of colloquium whether you are sufficiently prepared for the experiment. Moreover, he will provide you with explanations and hints on how to tackle and solve the specified tasks. If you are not well prepared, however, the tutor can judge the experiment as failed, and you will have to perform another (additional) experiment later.


Turning on any apparatus for the first time should be carried out only after consultation and with approval of the tutor.

Measuring protocol:

The measured raw data are the most important ingredient for an experimental physicist. Write down as many details as possible during the experiment, not only the measured data itself. You can hardly know beforehand what details you will need to analyze the data eventually. The original raw data must be added to the reports. We recommend that you sketch preliminary diagrams of the measured data during the experiment.


Arising questions during the experiment should be clarified immediately with the tutor. We are very grateful for suggestions on how to improve and/or extend the experiments. Please direct such suggestions to the APL administration.


In case of 2-day experiments, at the beginning of the second day, you should present at least a preliminary analysis of the existing measurements to your tutor and briefly discuss it.

Any two-person group should submit a written report to the tutor not later than 14 days after the end of the experiment. The tutor will correct the report on a reasonable timescale and will explain in detail what is good, what is wrong, and what is missing or incomplete. Please also implement all necessary corrections within max. 14 days. You will only pass the experiment once the tutor has accepted the last revision. He can also return the report to you for another round of revision. Both partners are fully responsible for the content and the in-time submission of the report.

In particular, the report should contain:
  • A title page with all relevant information.
  • A brief but clear compilation of the theory on which the experiment is based. In addition, experiment-specific formulae necessary for the analysis and interpretation of your measurements should be given and discussed. Pure copying from textbooks or the internet is not allowed. A report where lager parts are copied and pasted form the internet will be judged as failed. In this case an additional experiment has to be performed. The use of ChatGPT or other AI systems in the creation of the report must be referenced.
  • A description of the apparatus with a scheme of the setup as well as a short summary of the course of the experiment (mention specific difficulties).
  • A detailed analysis of the measurements with a discussion of the results including error considerations. The discussion should contain a comparison with literature values, a very clear classification within a larger physical frame, and it should further highlight the practical meaning of the result. Marginal observations could also be discussed. In view of error considerations, first of all systematic inaccuracies of the apparatus are to be discussed and to be considered computationally.
  • The original raw data should be attached at the end.

Your aim when writing the report should be a very brief but complete representation of the performed experiment, so that, e.g., one of your fellow students would be able to understand this experiment without any specific previous knowledge. Please, take special effort to arrange your report in a clear manner and to present clear figures.

Using figures or texts without providing the correct references can be considered as scientific misconduct.

The three branches of an APL experiment, i.e., preparation, execution, and report/corrections are separately judged by the tutor via the simple rating: "0" (average), "-" (below average), "+" (above average). The tutor informs you about your marks and will indicate them on the first page of your report.

This evaluation serves as a rough quantified feedback for you. The APL itself is not graded.

In case of insufficient performance (inadequate preparation for the experiment, report not satisfactory or delivered too late etc.) you will fail the experiment. In this case, an additional experiment has to be performed.

Repeated insufficient performances may lead to the exclusion from the APL as a consequence.

Please announce any damages of devices immediately to the tutor, so that they can be repaired immediately. Don't hesitate to do so even if such a damage may be due to your own mistake. A quick repair is mandatory so that the experiments are again available to the next groups.

You are briefed in a legally prescribed radiation/laser protection instruction about the corresponding safety regulations. In addition, we remind you at this point of dangers in contact with ultraviolet light, high voltage, evacuated glass vessels, liquid nitrogen and liquid helium. We ask you to pay attention to the safety regulations in your own interest. Please inform yourself about the specific dangers of the individual experiments and follow the instructions of your tutor.

If you are unable to attend the laboratory course on the day of the experiment, for instance due to sickness, please inform the APL administration, your tutor, and your partner as soon as possible. As a rule, the experiment has to be postponed, possibly to the next term. Phone numbers and email addresses of the tutors and the APL administration can be found on the APL website.

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