(NS) Solid State II - PHY00060H

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  • Department: Physics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Stuart Cavill
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary



Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

  • None

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19

Module aims

If we want to understand physical properties such as electrical and thermal conductivity, magnetism or reflectivity and absorption, it is necessary to study the electronic structure and transport properties of electrons in solids. Starting with the classical free electron gas approximation we will develop the concepts of the Fermi gas and nearly free electron theory making use of the quantum mechanical description of electrons in a periodic potential. This leads to the band structure model, which will allow us to describe material systems such as semiconductors and metals. These concepts will then be used to obtain insight into the origin of magnetism and optical properties of materials.


Module learning outcomes

Learning outcomes: at the end of this module successful students will be able to:

  • Understand the different models involved describing the interaction between electrons and electrons as well between electrons and crystal lattice and the underlying physical principles.

  • Explain the concept of the free electron approximation in metals.

  • Describe the interaction of free electrons with a constant electric and a constant magnetic field.

  • Calculate the density of states based on the Fermi statistics.

  • Determine the electronic contribution to the heat capacity.

  • Distinguish direct and indirect band gap semiconductors.

  • Describe the different mechanisms of conductivity in semiconductors.

  • Explain the principles of semiconductor devices such as diodes and transistors.

  • Distinguish the different types of magnetic properties in solids.

  • Understand the principles of superconductivity

Module content


Recap of the Fermi-gas model

  • Free electron gas approximation (Drude – d.c. and a.c. response)
  • Fermi-Dirac statistics, Fermi-sphere, Fermi-distribution, density of electronic states, Energy dispersion
  • Heat capacity and electrical conductivity of the Fermi-gas
  • Interactions with constant electric/magnetic fields.

Nearly Free electron model

  • Perturbation Theory
  • Electrons in a periodic potential
  • Reduced Zone scheme, Extended Zone scheme
  • Tight Binding Model
  • Band structure and band gaps
  • Fermi surfaces and Brilliouin zones
  • Effective electron mass approximation
  • Measuring the Fermi surface. de-Haas van Alphen effect and ARPES
  • Failures of the Band-theory of Metals and Insulators


  • Direct and indirect band gaps
  • Intrinsic and doped semiconductors
  • Cyclotron Resonance
  • Impact of temperature on charge density and conductivity
  • The p-n junction

Dielectric and optical properties

  • Optical transitions in direct and indirect semiconductors
  • Plasma Frequency
  • Reflectivity and absorption of metals

Magnetic properties

  • Para-, dia-, ferro- and antiferromagnetism
  • Ising Model of Ferromagnetism
  • Hubbard Model of Itinerant Magnetism and the Stoner Criteria


  • London Equations
  • Meissner effect
  • BCS-theory


Task Length % of module mark
Physics Practice Questions
N/A 14
University - closed examination
Solid State II
1.5 hours 86

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
University - closed examination
Solid State II
1.5 hours 86

Module feedback

Physics Practice Questions (PPQs) - You will receive the marked scripts via your pigeon holes. Feedback solutions will be provided on the VLE or by other equivalent means from your lecturer. As feedback solutions are provided, normally detailed comments will not be written on your returned work, although markers will indicate where you have lost marks or made mistakes. You should use your returned scripts in conjunction with the feedback solutions.

Exams - You will receive the marks for the individual exams from eVision. Detailed model answers will be provided on the intranet. You should discuss your performance with your supervisor.

Advice on academic progress - Individual meetings with supervisor will take place where you can discuss your academic progress in detail.

Indicative reading

C. Kittel: Introduction to Solid State Physics (Wiley and Sons)

N.W. Ashcroft and N.D. Mermin: Solid State Physics (Saunders College Publishing)

H. Ibach and H. Lüth: Solid-State Physics – An Introduction to Principles of Materials Science (Springer-Verlag)


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.