Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Concepts in Condensed Matter Physics
Academic Year
Semester 1
Reading List
External Examiners
  • Professor Pete Vukusic (Professor - Exeter University)
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Examination  70%
Semester Assessment Problem sheets  20%
Semester Assessment Blackboard quizzes  10%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Examination  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Utilise the concept of reciprocal space in the context of diffraction, electronic structure and lattice dynamics.

2. Discuss the properties of material classes such as crystals, polymers, liquids and glasses according to their structure, and describe common crystal structures.

3. Appraise the role of electronic structure in the basic mechanisms of electrical conductivity.

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

5. Analyse the magnetic properties of solids in terms of collective magnetic phenomena.

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

Brief description

This course provides the physics behind the atomic, electronic and magnetic structure of materials, their lattice dynamics and mechanical and thermal properties. Starting from descriptions of crystal structures, concepts such as reciprocal space, energy bands, collective magnetism and phonons are introduced.


Crystal structures:
- Important structure types
- Lattice planes and Miller indices
- Bragg diffraction theory
- Reciprocal lattice
- Brillouin zones

Electronic structure and semiconductors:
- Electron theory
- Metals, insulators and semiconductors
- Fermi level
- Valence and conduction bands
- Direct and indirect band gaps
- Intrinsic and extrinsic conductivity
- Doping
- Shallow and deep centres and structures
- Effective mass
- Diffusion of carriers

Lattice dynamics, mechanical and thermal properties:
- Interatomic potentials and mechanical properties
- Elasticity and thermal expansion
- Lattice vibrations, phonons
- Dispersion relations
- Heat capacity
- Debye and Einstein models

Magnetic states of matter:
- Diamagnetism
- Paramagnetism
- Magnetic ordering
- Ferromagnetic domains
- Other collective phenomena


This module is at CQFW Level 6