Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Successful completion of second year physics core modules
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 2 hour lectures
Practical 1 x 1 hour practical sessions in small groups


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Semester exam  70%
Semester Assessment Example Sheet  To be completed during teaching semester  15%
Semester Assessment Report on diffraction practical  15%
Supplementary Assessment 30%
Supplementary Exam 70%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Use quantum mechanical and statistical mechanical arguments to describe phenomena such as Bose-Einstein condensation and superfluidity.

2. Distinguish between type I and II superconductivity, describe the Meissner effect and macroscopic quantum coherence.

3. Describe superconductivity according to Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory.

4. Describe quasiparticle excitations and the quantum Hall effect

5. Describe the phenomenon of quantum confinement and the unique properties of nanophase materials


The condensed matter physics required by the IOP, the structure and dynamics of solid and liquid materials, band structure and magnetism have been covered in the first semester. In this module, materials physics students will be able to build on this foundation and explore more advanced condensed matter topics; these will include areas such as superfluidity, superconductivity and quantum confinement. Nanophase materials will also be covered.

Brief description

This module will focus on the quantum mechanics basis for advanced topics in modern condensed matter. Starting from a treatment of elementary excitations, the quantum hall effect and electron phonon interaction will be introduced. From this description the basics of superconductivity will be introduced. The London equations, BCS theory and the Josephson effect will all the discussed. Low temperature topics in condensed matter will be presented including the concepts of superfluidity and Bose-Einstein condensation. The connection between superfluidity and unconventional superconductivity will also be discussed. The final part of the module will be a presentation of recent advances in nanophase physics; this will include discussions of surfaces and interfaces, magnetism on a nanoscale and quantum confinement.



1. Point defects, defect equilibria, diffusion.
2. Dislocations and their motion, material strength.
3. Stacking faults.
4. Amorphous structures, glass transition.
5. Measuring defects and disorder by diffraction.
6. Synchrotron x-ray and neutron scattering techniques.


1. Superconducting materials
2. The Meissner-Ochsenfeld effect
3. The London equation
4. Macroscopic quantum coherence
5. Cooper pair
6. The BCS wave function
7. BCS theory and quasiparticle states.


1. Classical and quantum fluids
2. Flow Quantization and vorticies
3. Superfluid properties of He II


1. Bose-Einstein statistics.
2. Bose-Einstein condensation
3. BEC in ultra-old gases


1. Order of phase transitions
2. Order parameters and symetry
3. A hint of Landau theory
4. Tracking transitions experimentally.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Throughout the module.
Communication Students will be expected to submit written worksheet solutions.
Improving own Learning and Performance Feedback via tutorials
Information Technology Students will be required to conduct research using electronic data bases.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be exposed to areas of application directly relevant to current materials physics research. 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 applications.
Subject Specific Skills Ability to apply quantum mechanical reasoning to model physical situations.
Team work Small-group experimental and data analysis work in practical.


This module is at CQFW Level 6