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Condensed Matter I


Key information

  • Module code:


  • Level:


  • Semester:


  • Credit value:


Module description

An indicative list of topics covered by this module, but which may change slightly from year to year, is given by:

  • Structure and types of condensed matter;  Bonding: ionic, covalent, van der Waals and metallic. 
  • Elastic properties (Young modulus) and thermal expansion; Crystal structure, including Bravais lattices, reciprocal lattices, Brillouin zones, X-ray and neutron diffraction. Lattice vibrations, including phonons (optical and acoustic) and the Einstein and Debye models for specific heat.
  • Free electron theory of metals including the free electron Fermi surface and Fermi energy, Drude theory and the Wiedemann-Franz law; Electrons in periodic potentials including Bloch's theorem and the band theory classification of metals, insulators and semiconductors.
  • Basic properties of semiconductors including electrons and holes, doping and effective mass with applications to the p-n junction.
  • Magnetism including paramagnetism, diamagnetism, ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, ferrimagnetism with reference to Curie?s Law and the CurieWeiss law; A brief introduction to mean field theory, the exchange interaction and the Heisenberg model; Domains and hysteresis.

Assessment details

Written 3 Hour Exam (May/June) 100%

Learning outcomes

To introduce the basic notions of condensed matter physics, encompassing the structural, thermal, electrical and magnetic properties of matter.

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Describe the different types of bonding in solids and the impact it has on physical properties.
  • Describe crystal structure using translation vectors, unit cells and reciprocal lattice vectors, with applications to X-ray crystallography.
  • Characterise lattice vibrations and phonons including the Einstein and Debye models for specific heat capacity.
  • Use simple ideas of band theory to distinguish between metals, insulators and semiconductors.
  • Describe the key properties of semiconductors including notions of effective mass, mobility, doping, and direct and indirect gaps.
  • Describe the different types of magnetism including Curie's law for paramagnetism and the Curie-Weiss law for ferromagnetism