Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Successful completion of Part 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Examination  70%
Semester Assessment Two example sheets to be completed during each teaching semester  20%
Semester Assessment 10 Hours   Diffraction practical 
Supplementary Assessment Resit failed component  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.

Discuss the relationship between experiment and modelling in science in general and condensed matter physics in particular.

Explain the origin of band structure and relate it to the electric properties of materials.

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. 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.


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.


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

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Throughout the module.
Communication Students will be expected to submit written worksheet solutions and laboratory reports.
Improving own Learning and Performance Feedback via tutorials.
Information Technology Extensive use of data analysis software, crystallographic data bases and instrumentation
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be exposed to areas of application directly relevant to current materials physics research. They will be given training in the key techniques expected in materials physics. This module is directly aligned to future careers in physics research.
Problem solving All situations considered are problem-based.
Research skills Students will be encouraged to consult various books and journals for examples of application.
Subject Specific Skills Ability to apply quantum mechanical reasoning to model physical situations. Use of modern, research grade scientific equipment and awareness of health and safety issues.
Team work N/A


This module is at CQFW Level 6