Postgraduate course

Solid State Physics

Semester of Instruction


Objectives and Content

The course gives an introduction to the physics of the solid state. The first part considers bonds and crystal structure in solid matter. Mechanical properties are investigated and tied to specific bonds in solids. The interference pattern obtained by diffraction of waves by crystals reveals the lattice structure of the solid state. Particular emphasis is put on cubic and hexagonal crystals. Concepts such as the reciprocal lattice vector and the Brillouin zone are introduced. Lattice vibrations are analyzed, and the dispersion relationship is introduced to understand how the lattice vibrates. The Debye and Einstein models for heat capacity are covered to explain how the lattice energy changes with temperature. The course also covers heat conduction in solids, including Fouriers law for diffusive heat conduction, and also how to obtain the thermal conductivity of solid matter. Classical and quantum mechanical models for the electrical and heat conduction in free electron gases are studies, and simple models for electrons moving in periodic potentials allow one to understand the basic behavior of metals. Classification of band structure in conductors, semiconductors and insulators is given. The law of mass action and the transport of holes and electrons in semiconductors are analyzed, with an emphasis on the concept of effective mass. Schottky and PN-junctions are analyzed. Applications of semiconductors, such as solar cells and light emitting diodes are also covered. The last part of the course covers magnetism and superconductivity. The concepts of dia, para and ferromagnetism are introduced, and one distinguishes between local (Curie) and band (Stoner) contributions to ferromagnetism. A short overview over superconductivity and its current state is given.

Learning Outcomes

 After completing the PHYS208 the student will have

- understanding of crystal structure
- understanding of thermal properties of harmonic lattice
- understanding of electrons in metals
- basic knowledge of the electron band theory
- knowledge of semiconductor mechanisms, the p-n junction
- understanding of mechanisms of magnetic phenomena and superconductivity

Required Previous Knowledge

PHYS118 or PHYS119 or PHYS115.

Recommended Previous Knowledge

PHYS 115

Forms of Assessment

Written exam, 4 hours. Mid-term exam or other exercises can be included in the final grade.

Grading Scale

The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Written examination

    4 hours
    Withdrawal deadline