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Unit information: Applied Materials Physics in 2021/22

Unit name Applied Materials Physics
Unit code PHYSM0045
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Liu
Open unit status Not open

120 credits at Level I/5 in single or joint honors physics.

It would be best if students had attended PHYS30025 Materials Physics; but if not, the basic deformation and fracture knowledge required will be covered in the first two lectures.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This is a 4th year undergraduate Physics course. This course is named "Practical Materials Physics" as it introduces the practical knowledge of how materials deform and fracture with the aim of passing the essence of Materials Mechanics to Physics students to solve problems encountered in common industrial structural materials.

This course will introduce the deformation and fracture behavior in materials for structural applications, including metals, ceramics, polymers and bio-materials such as bone and teeth. We will start from learning how materials deform elastically and plastically from simple continuum mechanics viewpoints, linear-elastic and nonlinear-elastic fracture mechanics. This is followed by a section answering the question why practical materials tend to fail at lower stress compared with their theoretical values. We will then introduce, in detail, how to describe this type of failure in materials by assuming idealized cracks (size and location), the commonly known toughening mechanism and by the end of the course, you will be able to evaluate materials failure from their fracture surface and help to design materials with higher fracture toughness.

The course objectives are as follows:

  • to provide the students with a thorough introduction to the importance of deformation and fracture of structural materials using historical and modern examples
  • to introduce the basics of deformation of materials, both elastically and plastically
  • to prepare the students with an understanding of how cracks introduce stress concentrations in different configurations and how to utilize analytical methods to characterize this type of stress, and how different mechanisms exist in various materials to resist the formation and growth of cracks
  • provide the students with a basis for the use of fractography as a diagnostic tool for material and structure failures
  • to provide the students with example case studies to illustrate the application of fracture mechanics to real-life materials and structures

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • A good understanding of basic elasticity and the ability to describe the stresses/strains in a loaded material/structure
  • A sound understanding of the origins and application of fracture mechanics for the design and integrity evaluation of structural materials/components
  • Ability to describe the stress/strain fields ahead of different types of cracks and the formulation of fracture toughness
  • Ability to use fracture mechanics to quantitatively estimate the failure in both elastic and plastic materials
  • Ability to describe the primary mechanisms leading to the failure in common materials such as metals, ceramics and composites
  • Understand how fracture mechanics is so different from other forms of analysis used to characterize mechanical properties

Teaching Information

18 lectures (1 hour per lecture).

Formative feedback is provided through 3 x 1-hour problems classes.

Assessment Information

70 per cent written report and 30 per cent screen cast.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHYSM0045).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.