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 PHYS202
Coordinator Professor VR Dhanak
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2021-22 Level 5 FHEQ Second Semester 15


The aims of this module are to introduce the most important and basic concepts in condensed matter physics relating to the different materials we commonly see in the world around us. Condensed matter physics is one of the most active areas of research in modern physics, whose scope is extremely broad. The ultimate aim of this module is to introduce its central ideas and methodology to the students.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will have the knowledge and skills to understand the basic concepts of bonding in solids, establish an understanding of electron configuration in atoms and in the condensed matter in terms of bonding, and relating them to band structure description.

(LO2) Students will be able to understand how solid structures are described mathematically and how material properties can be predicted.

(LO3) Students will be able to establish a foundation in basic crystallography, using Bragg's law, and understand the concept of the reciprocal lattice.

(LO4) Students will understand basic transport properties, both electronic and thermal, in solids.

(LO5) Students will understand the concept of electron and hole carrier statistics, effective masses and transport in intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors

(LO6) Students will learn the basics of magnetism, the atomic origin and classical treatment of diamagnetism and paramagnetism, quantization of angular momentum and Hund's rule, and introduced to weak magnetism in solids.

(LO7) Students will become familiar to the general language of condensed matter physics, key theories and concepts, ultimately enebling them to read and understand research papers.



1 Structure
• Types of bonding in solids: hybridization, covalent, ionic, metallic, Van der Waals.
• Packing of spheres; close packed crystal structures
• Lattice and basis vectors for (principally) cubic crystals
• X-ray scattering of waves from a crystal, Bragg's Law, reciprocal lattice, Ewald construction for diffraction.
• X-ray, neutron and electron scattering experiments
• Polymorphism: e.g. in C diamond, graphite, fullerenes
• Other common crystals: zinc blende
• Real crystals: defects, vacancies, dislocations, grains

2 Dynamics
• Phonons as harmonic excitations, dispersion curves for monoatomic diatomic 1D crystals, acoustic and optical vibration modes, extension to 3D: longitudinal and transverse branches
• Measurement of phonon frequencies: inelastic neutron scattering, Raman, IR absorption
• Finite chain of atoms and periodic boundary conditions to define discreet wave-vectors.
• Density of phonon modes
• Heat capacity: Dulong and Petit Law, Einstein and Debye approx., phonon and electronic contributions
• Anharmonicity: phonon scattering, thermal conduction, thermal expansion
• Electronic Structure: Bonding in solids
• Metals: The Free-Electron Model, Wavefunction in a periodic lattice, Energy bands, Density of states, Fermi surface, electronic conduction, Hall effect.
• Metals, Insulators and Semiconductors
• Electrons in nanostructures
• Band structure examples

3 Semiconductors
• Semiconductor band structure
• Intrinsic and doped extrinsic semiconductors
• Semiconductor properties
• Lower-dimensional semiconductors (graphene, semiconducting polymers)
• Electrical conductivity
• Optical properties, excitons

4 Basic Magnetism
• Aspects of magnetism
• Origins of magnetic properties
• Diamagnetic susceptibility
• Paramagnetism, ferromagnetism
• Curie temperature
• Magnetoresistance

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Students attend two 1- hour lecture slots and one 2-hour slot for problem solving per week. Problems are pre-assigned and students get the opportunity to solve these to complement what is learned in the lecture.

Students are encouraged to contact the lecturer for additional help on a one to one basis with any topics.

The module will be delivered remotely in 2021. Asynchronous learning materials (notes/videos/exercises etc) will be made available to students through the VLE. The module will have regular synchronous sessions in active learning mode.
We are planning no changes to module content compared to previous years, and expect students to spend a similar amount of time-on-task compared to previous years. These changes will mainly constitute a rebalancing of hours from scheduled directed learning hours to unscheduled directed learning hours as students will have some flexibility as to when they access asynchronous materials.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours           24


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 102


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
on-line time-controlled examination  2 hours + time to up    60       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Problem Classes Standard UoL penalty applies for late submission. This is not an anonymous assessment. Assessment Schedule (When) :Three of the problem classes are assessed in the form of tests.  2 x 2 hours    40       

Recommended Texts

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