Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Concepts in Condensed Matter Physics
Academic Year
Semester 1
PH21510 and Successful completion of Year 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 2 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Examination  70%
Semester Assessment Two example sheets  30%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Explain and apply the concept of reciprocal space.

Describe experimental techniques such as phonon spectroscopy and diffraction.

Distinguish material classes such as crystals, polymers, liquids, and glasses according to their structure.

Analyse crystallographic data and interpret them in terms of structural symmetry.

Describe the interaction of solids with magnetic fields and distinguish dia-, para- and ferromagnetism.

Analyse the magnetic and electric properties of solids in terms of collective magnetic and electric phenomena.

Interpret the thermal properties of crystal lattices using the Einstein and Debye models and predict their dispersion relations and heat capacities.


This module will equip students with the concepts needed to interpret and predict the properties of solids in terms of their structure. They will be introduced to a number of experimental techniques to determine structure and will be able to interpret structural data in terms of crystal symmetry. Different states of magnetism in solids are discussed and collective magnetic phenomena explained.

Brief description

This course will provide the physics behind the structural and magnetic properties of materials. Starting from descriptions of crystal structures and symmetry, the thermal properties of lattices ae discussed, and the magnetic properties of materials will be discussed in detail. The module includes sections about relevant experimental techniques such as x-ray diffraction and phonon spectroscopy.


Crystal structures

General description of crystal structures.
Important crystal structures.
Lattice planes and Miller indices.
General Diffraction theory.
The reciprocal lattice.
Bragg and Laue theory.
The Ewald contrstuction.
Symmetry elements and space groups.

Thermal properties of crystal lattices

Lattice vibrations.
A simple oscillator.
Infinite chains of atoms.
The Brillouin zone.
Heat capacity.
The Debye model.
The Einstein model.
Phonon spectroscopy.

Magnetic states of matter

Magnetic effects in atoms.
Magnetic ordering.
Ferromagnetic domains.
Other collective phenomena.


This module is at CQFW Level 6