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Advanced Condensed Matter Physics - PHY00055M

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Jun Yuan
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Physics aims to understand the properties of matter at both microscopic and macroscopic scales. This module looks at the matter in transition from atomic limit to bulk-like limit. Quantum mechanics provides us a framework to understand the size-dependent behaviour of systems in this transitional region. This course will show rich varieties of novel properties not found in either single atoms or in bulk materials and the nanotechnologies exploring this vast size-tunable landscapes to not only enrich our understanding but devices underpinning our digitally connected world.

Related modules

Pre-requisites:  Condensed Matter Physics: Electrons in Solids or equivalent

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

This module studies the nanomaterials and devices that explores the interesting physics emerging as condensed matter evolves from the atomic limit to bulk-like where the intrinsic properties are no longer size dependent.

We will explore the fundamental reasons underpin the size-dependent physics using quantum mechanics, examining the roles of quantum confinement on vibrational, electronic waves, surface/interface proximity and charge localization Also will be introduced are the fabrication and nanocharacterization techniques enables the development of this emerging field, with particular hands-on demonstration in electron microscopy. The application of nanomaterials will showcase various mechanical, electronic, optoelectronic, microelectronic and magnetic applications.

By the end of course, students should not only be able to explain, in certain cases quantitatively the rich physics seen in nanomaterials and devices using quantum mechanics and physical relevant simple models, but also their applications in real world technologies.

Module learning outcomes

  • Describe why nanoscale is important and explain the main physics involving quantum confinement, surface energy minimization and electron localization.

  • Understand the fabrications and characterization of nanomaterials and devices and enable to determine atomic structures using electron microscopy data.

  • Describe the physics behind the size dependence in the structures, electronic, optoelectronic, magnetic and transport properties of nanomaterials, solving Schrodinger Equation upto three dimensions.

  • Solve Schrödinger Equation up to three dimensions to derive the characteristic size, length and energies involved.

  • Describe the applications and devices made of nanomaterials and nanostructures and the principle behind and the working parameters involved.

Module content

Scaling analysis and departure from bulk behaviours, Characteristic length scale and the related energy scales involved in different properties of the nanomaterials and devices.

NANOFABRICATION AND NANOANALYSIS: Imaging principles involved in microscopy of nanomaterials, the factors the limitation of resolutions, Layouts and functions of different types of electron microscopes (SEM, TEM, STEM) and the characteristic aberrations limiting the resolutions.. Beam-sample interaction and the implication for contrast formation in electron imaging and nanoanalysis, determination of crystallographic structures and nanoscale microstructures using electron microscopy. Various fabrication processes of nanomaterials and nanoscale devices.

STRUCTURE OF NANOMATERIALS: Formation and physics behind the stabilities of carbon nanomaterials (e.g. fullerene, carbon nanotube, graphene etc.). Atomic clusters, origin of five-fold atomic structures and their transitions to the bulk structure. Origin of magic number effect and be able to derive the magic numbers involved.

ELECTRONS IN CONFINEMENT: Electronic structures of graphene, carbon nanotubes and their properties, Low-dimensional semiconductors (quantum dots and quantum wells and quantum wires). Factors affecting the quantum confinement of exciton and related optoelectronic devices. Mapping of quantum structure (such as artificial corral structures) using scanning tunnelling microscopy.

NANOELECTRONICS: Factors affecting the transport in nanoscale devices and the characteristic length scales involved: tunnelling, ballistic transport, phase interference and Coulomb blockade, quantum conductance. Single electron transistor and their applications

NANOMAGNETISM: Direct/indirect exchange interactions, Ferromagnetism, Magnetisation processes, magnetic anisotropy, domain and domain walls; magnetic nanoparticles, single domain limit. Magnetic recording, the read/write head. Microscopy of magnetic materials and advanced magnetometry techniques.

SEMICONDUCTING DEVICES: Structural defects (point, line, planar and volume defects) and their impact on the transport properties, Interaction of semiconductors with radiation. Microelectronic devices (bipolar transistors and MOSFETs), Detectors (CCDs, X-ray detectors), Solar cells, Optoelectronic devices (diodes, lasers)


Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Advanced Condensed Matter Physics
3 hours 80
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Closed/in-person Exam (Centrally scheduled)
Advanced Condensed Matter Physics
3 hours 80

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments.

A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback. This can be found at:

The School of Physics, Engineering & Technology aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. Students are provided with their examination results within 25 working days of the end of any given examination period. The School will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 25 working days of the submission deadline. The School would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The School will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each semester provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Our policy on how you receive feedback for formative and summative purposes is contained in our Physics at York Taught Student Handbook.

Indicative reading

C. Kittel, Introduction to solid state physics, Wiley, 8th ed. (2004)

D. William and B Carter, Transmission Electron Microscopy-a textbook for materials science, Springer; 2nd ed. (2009)

S.M. Sze, Semiconductor Devices – Physics and Technology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 3rd edition – 2011

B. D. Cullity and C. D. Graham "Introduction to Magnetic Materials" IEEE Press, 2nd Edition (2009).

D. Jiles "Introduction to Magnetism and Magnetic Materials" Taylor & Francis, 2nd Edition (2008).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.