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Unit information: Solid State Physics 3021 in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Solid State Physics 3021
Unit code PHYS30021
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Dugdale
Open unit status Not open

120 credit at Level I/5 in single and joint honours physics.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


Electrons in Crystals and Semiconductors and Magnetism.

Brief description of simple crystal structures. Diffraction from periodic structures. The reciprocal lattice for various simple crystal structures. Electrons in crystals: free and nearly free electron theory - one electron approximation. Periodic boundary conditions. Density of states. Application of Fermi-Dirac distribution. Bloch Theorem; Energy bands. Phonons. Energy gaps, Bragg reflection and Brillouin zone boundaries. Reduced, extended and periodic zone schemes. Notion of a Fermi-surface and simple construction. Semi-classical theory of electron transport. Crystal momentum and effective mass. The distinction between metals, semiconductors and insulators. Electrons and holes. Transport in a free electron metal. Electron scattering in metals and semiconductors. Transport in semiconductors. The Hall effect. Elemental and compound semiconductors. Carrier density in intrinsic semiconductors. p- and n- type doping. The p-n junction. The work function and contact potential. Metal-semiconductor junctions. Types of magnetism. Pauli susceptibility. The Stoner model. Domains and the Curie temperature. Brief mention of superconductivity and the Meissner effect.

A pre-requisite for the Level 7 PHYSM0300 The Physics of Phase Transitions, PHYSM1000 Magnetism and Superconductivity and PHYSM2100 Semiconductor Physics.


  • To understand the concept of reciprocal lattice and the behaviour of electrons in a crystalline solid including the classification of solids, their electronic properties and how to measure and calculate them.
  • To introduce the electronic structure and physical properties of a semiconductor.
  • To reveal how p-n junctions, semiconductor lasers and LEDs work.
  • To present simple qualitative models to relate the behaviour of electrons in a crystal to magnetism.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Recognise the importance of the reciprocal lattice and relevance to diffraction. Be able to calculate and explain band structure related properties in crystalline systems and construct simple Fermi surfaces from given electron density or electronic bands.
  • Understand how to describe the motion of an electron in a band.
  • Able to describe the electronic structure and physical properties of a semiconductor.
  • Able to distinguish between diamagnetism, paramagnetism, ferromagnetism and

antiferromagnetism, and to understand what gives rise to these phenomena in metals.

Teaching details

Lectures and Problems classes.

Assessment Details

Written examination comprising 1 3-hour paper. Attendance at problems classes may contribute to the award of credit points.

Reading and References

Kittel - Introduction to Solid State Physics

Ibach and Luth - Solid State Physics