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Unit information: Condensed Matter Physics 311 in 2015/16

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Unit name Condensed Matter Physics 311
Unit code PHYS31111
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Furqaan Yusaf
Open unit status Not open

120 credit points of units at level I in Physics, Physics with Astrophysics, joint honours Mathematics and Physics or Physics and Philosophy, or Chemical Physics programme.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

Lattice Dynamics: Adiabatic approximation. Vibrations of monoatomic and diatomic linear chain. Acoustic and optical modes. Quantization of lattice vibrations (phonons).

Lattice Thermal Properties: Density of states. Einstein and Debye models of the lattice specific heat. Debye temperature. Heat conduction by phonons and electrons.

Review of Fermi-Dirac statistics - spin particles. The Ideal Bose gas- integer spin particles. Bose-Einstein condensation. Application to ultracold atomic gases in traps.

The van der Waals gas. Maxwell's construction and gas-liquid critical point. Concept of a phase transition. Phase diagram of real substances, triple point. A brief introduction to Landau's theory of phase transitions. Order parameters, examples from magnetism and liquid crystals. Concept of critical exponent.


To broaden knowledge of condensed matter physics particularly in the areas of lattice dynamics and phase transitions.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Know the nature of lattice excitations in a crystal and able to calculate simple thermal properties from the excitation spectra. Understand the Bose gas and its relevance to superfluidity in helium. Know the Maxwell construction and its significance for understanding phase transitions and triple points. Understand the gas-liquid and other critical points. Know the significance of order parameters with reference to simple examples in magnetism and liquid crystals. Know the concept of critical exponents.

Teaching Information

Lectures, problems classes

Assessment Information

Written examination comprising 1 2-hour paper.

Reading and References

  • Chaikin and Lubensky Principles of Condensed Matter Physics (CUP)
  • Kittel Introduction to Solid State Physics (Wiley & Sons)
  • Ibach and Luth Solid State Physics (Springer-Verlag)