Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code PHYS487
Coordinator Professor K Durose
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 7 FHEQ First Semester 7.5


To provide a science-led understanding of how materials are configured and how they behave. Fundamental concepts surrounding crystalline materials and their defects will be used to explain materials properties and behaviour, and frameworks for describing how materials respond to processing will be described. There will be exemplar case studies.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Understand the types of point defects in solids and the thermodynamic drivers for their presence

(LO2) Understand the types of point defects in solids and the thermodynamic drivers for their presence

(LO3) Be able to use phase diagrams to predict the phase, composition and microstructure of solids.

(LO4) Know the Phase Rule and be able to apply it.

(LO5) Understand diffusion phenomena and be able to solve problems using Fick’s first and second laws. Understand the Kirkendall effect

(LO6) Have an appreciation of the fundamental drivers for crystal growth including supersaturation, nucleation and heat flow criteria.

(LO7) Know the main properties of dislocations in solids and how they influence the properties of materials, including mechanical properties. Understand diffusionless transformations

(LO8) Know about key materials classes through case studies.



Review of bonding in solids and the structure of materials. Covalent, ionic, metallic, van der Waal’s bonding. Orbital hybridisation and bonding in molecules and solids

Important crystal lattice types. Madelung constant. Mooser Pearson plots. Isoelectronic rules and semiconductors. Radius ratio rules. Point defect types in solids. Doping in semiconductors.

Point defect equilibria. Brouwer diagrams.

Phase diagrams. Principles of reading phase diagrams, determining quantitative data and equilibrium microstructures from them.

The phase rule. Thermodynamic derivation, examples and uses.

Thermodynamics of mixing. Quantitative treatment of enthalpic and entropic drivers for mixing.

Diffusion and diffusion phenomena. Fick’s first and second laws. Microscopic phenomena including the Kirkendall effect.

Crystal growth concepts. Supersaturation, nucleation and additive phenomena, critical radius for precipitation. Heat flow criteria for crystal growth.

Dislocations and grain boundaries. Physical reasons for the postulation of dislocations. Dislocation types, line and Burgers vector. Dislocation energetics. Dislocation phenomena: plastic deformation, pile up, precipitate and work hardening. Hall-Petch formula. Observation of dislocations.

Deformation and failure of materials. Poisson ratio. Ductile failure, brittle failure, crack propagation, surface energetics, Griffith energy balance. Superelasticity and shape memory alloys.

Case studies: Important materials and research challenges

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1 - Lecture
Description: Lecture

Teaching Method 2 - Tutorial
Description: Tutorial

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 18


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 55


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Exam Assessment Schedule (When) :Semester 1  90 Minutes    70       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
course work - additional details required      30       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.