Thermal Expansion


Final Temperature = °C

Physlet Assistance
on      off
A 36.0 cm long metal rod is clamped at one end.  Initially it is at 0°C and is heated to the final temperature that you choose (100°C < Tf < 500°C) in 2.0 seconds.  An enlarged view (10x) of the "free" end is shown in the lower left.  What is the coefficient of thermal expansion for this metal?


  1. Measure the length of the rod before and after the expansion.  Can you notice a change?  Does it get longer or shorter?  
  2. Measure the change in length of the end of the rod in the expanded view.  Calculate the coefficient of thermal expansion.


See Serway and Beichner, Physics For Scientists and Engineers 5th Edition, Section 19.4

Illustration written by Mario Belloni and modified by Chuck Niederriter