PHYS3021 Statistical and Solid State Physics

Students should only enrol into PHYS3080 if they have already taken PHYS3020, or if their degree plan requires PHYS3080.
All other students should enrol into PHYS3021 Statistical and Solid State Physics in 2013.

Solid State Physics

  • Level 3 Physics course
  • Offered every year, Session 1

Brief Syllabus:

Free electron model of metals, Bloch states and energy bands, reciprocal space and the Fermi surface, electron dynamics, Landau levels, crystal structure, Brillouin zones, elementary diffraction theory, bonding, cohesive processes, impurity states, impurity conductivity, lattice vibration, monatomic and diatomic chain, acoustic and optic phonons, Einstein and Debye models, dielectric effects, basics of superconductivity.

Lecture notes

Table of contents

Lecture notes 1
Lecture notes 2

Lecture notes 3
Lecture notes 4
Lecture notes 5
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Lecture notes 8


Assignment 1
Assignment 2
Assignment 3

Assumed Knowledge:

The course assumes familiarity with second year PHYS2040 Quantum Physics and first year mathematics, e.g. MATH1231 or MATH1241.  Co-requisite courses are PHYS3010 Quantum Mechanics (Advanced) or PHYS3210 Quantum Mechanics, and PHYS3020 Statistical Physics.

Course Goals:

Solid State Physics provides the basis for the most important technological advances of the 20th century.  It also provides a wide range of opportunities to ‘see’ the effects of Quantum Physics in action. Specific topics include:

  • A discussion of the basic concept of a lattice and some important and yet quite simple crystal structures;
  • The behaviour of atoms in a crystal; vibrational modes of a lattice and their quantization (“phonons”);
  • The behaviour of electrons in a metal; “Free-Electron model” and the “Nearly Free-Electron model”; electron waves and lattice potential;
  • Energy bands in crystals; Brillouin Zones;
  • Semiconductors, direct and indirect band-gaps; the effects of doping a semiconductor; basic semiconductor devices such as the p-n junction;
  • The phenomenon of superconductivity; key experiments; some attempts to explain superconductivity; the BCS model (the importance of phonons).

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn the basics of crystallography and the importance of periodicity.
  • Students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of Quantum Physics to real systems such as metals and semiconductors.
  • Students will be able to follow the development of the phenomenon of superconductivity from both experimental and theoretical viewpoints.

Why is Solid State Physics important?

Firstly, it is often said that Solid State Physics is the branch of Physics in which perhaps half of all present-day physicists are working.  The coupling of Solid State Physics and Quantum Physics is the basis for virtually all technological aspects of modern life.

The course is strongly recommended as groundwork for a number of 3rd year courses, e.g. PHYS3310 Physics of Solid State Devices, as well as the 4th year Honours units in Solid State Physics and Advanced Condensed Matter Physics.

How to succeed - Strategies for Learning

This course will provide both an introduction to the behaviour of solid materials and the conceptual tools necessary if one wishes to pursue such studies. At this level, it is important to focus on the basic principles which, in many cases, can be appreciated without the need for detailed mathematics. The subject naturally includes much Quantum Mechanics but the student will find that the Quantum Physics studied in 2nd year will provide most of the skills needed to follow this course.

Like most subjects, the key to success is hard work. At regular points during the course (to link in with the lecture topics).  I will distribute a sheet of tutorial problems covering the topic and approximately one in five of the class periods will be devoted to a tutorial in which solutions to these problems will be discussed.

It is useful, as in any course, for each student to prepare a concise summary of the material presented in lectures.

For rules regarding academic honesty, etc, see the School website here.



Solid State Physics (1st Ed.) (Wiley) by P. Hofmann

Solid State Physics (2nd Ed.) (Wiley) by J.R. Hook & H.E. Hall

Additional References

Introductory Solid State Physics, H.P. Myers

Solid State Physics, N.W. Ashcroft & N.D. Mermin

Information on student support services may be found on the School website here.

last updated 1st March 2012

Statistical Physics

See Statistical Physics by Gary Morriss