1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Microstates of an Einstein solid

  1. Feb 4, 2015 #1
    My confusion isn't exactly with a homework problem, but more with an example that is key to understanding a homework problem. So I am posting here anyway.

    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    The example is of an Einstein solid, with N=3 oscillators. The book lists the multiplicity of each macrostate, with presumably each macrostate as the total energy units of the system. It says "There is just one microstate with total energy 0, while there are 3 microstates with one unit of energy, six with two units, and ten with three units."

    Giving 20 total microstates, then it lists them all in a table.

    2. Relevant equations
    Finally it gives the formula:
    $${\Omega}(N, q)= {{q+N-1}\choose{q}}=\frac{(q+N-1)!}{q!(N-1)!}$$ Where N is the number of oscillators and q is the energy units.

    3. The attempt at a solution
    My problem is, the book doesn't explicitly say what q is for this example, but I'm assuming it is 4? So using N=3 and q=4 for that equation gives me 15 microstates, using q=3 gives 10 microstates, q = 5 gives 21.

    So I'm not sure what I'm missing. I'm going to step away from the problem for a minute and hopefully I can find my mistake, but in the meantime I'm posting it here. Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

    q is the number of energy units. Then ##\Omega(q, N)## is the number of ways of distributing q energy units among N oscillators. So, when N = 3 and q = 2, you get ##\Omega(2, 3) = 6##, in agreement with what you stated for this case.

    It looks like maybe you are trying to interpret ##\Omega(q_0,N)## as the sum of all microstates with different number of energy units q = 0, 1, 2, ...q0. But ##\Omega(q_0,N)## is just the number of microstates with fixed total energy corresponding to q0 energy units.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  4. Feb 4, 2015 #3
    Ok, so ##\Omega## only gives the multiplicity for a single macro state? I was misinterpreting what q meant. Thank you.
  5. Feb 4, 2015 #4


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2017 Award

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted