Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Condensed Matter Structure Determination
Academic Year
Semester 1
External Examiners
  • Professor Pete Vukusic (Professor - Exeter University)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 22 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Written examination  70%
Semester Assessment Problem sheet  15%
Semester Assessment Practical workshop data analysis and write-up  15%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Written examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify appropriate experimental techniques to determine the structure of materials on different length scales.
2. Explain the function of instrumentation and optical components used in structure determination techniques in condensed matter physics.
3. Describe crystal structures in terms of symmetry and space groups using appropriate symbols and terminology.
4. Analyse experimental data by interpreting parameters such as peak position, width and amplitude.
5. Distinguish defect structures in terms of dimensionality.
6. Identify appropriate experimental techniques to establish and quantify structural defects and disorder.

Brief description

This course introduces a range of experimental techniques in condensed matter physics, including microscopy techniques such as scanned probe microscopy and electron microscopy as well as X-ray and neutron scattering techniques covering structures at atomic, nano- and micrometre level, expanding from diffraction into crystallography. The module also covers defects in the crystal structure and resulting properties, including diffusion of defects.


Microscopy techniques:
- Scanned probe microscopies (AFM, STM etc.)
- Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
- Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

- Symmetry elements in two and three dimensions
- Bravais lattices, point groups and space groups
- Symmetry operations in group theory

X-ray and neutron scattering:
- Instrumentation and optics
- X-ray and neutron diffraction, incl. Ewald construction
- Bragg peaks vs. pair distribution functions
- Small-angle scattering and contrast variation

Defects and disorder:
- Point defects, defect equilibria, diffusion
- Dislocations and their motion
- Stacking faults
- Amorphous structures, glass transition
- Measuring defects and disorder by diffraction

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Calculation of derived quantities from raw data in the workshop.
Communication Write-up of workshop results and literature search as part of problem sheet.
Information Technology Use of data bases and data analysis programs to analyse data.
Personal Development and Career planning Use of research-grade scientific equipment.
Problem solving Determining which experimental techniques (or combinations of such) are best suited to probe the structure of a material.
Research skills Use of literature and experimental data bases.
Subject Specific Skills Data analysis, evaluating appropriate technologies for different scientific purposes.
Team work Workshop is run in groups, including analysis and write-up.


This module is at CQFW Level 6