PHS3042 - Fundamentals of condensed matter physics - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Alexis Bishop


Dr Alexis Bishop

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


One of: PHS2011 or PHS2061 and

one of: PHS2022 or PHS2062 and

one of: MTH2010, MTH2015 or ENG2005 and

one of: MTH2032 or MTH2040

Recommended: PHS2081


This unit consists of four 6-lecture sub-units and laboratory work. Key areas are:

  1. Condensed Matter Physics: real and reciprocal space lattices, classical and quantum models of atomic vibration in crystals, the basic theory for the behaviour of electrons and phonons in solid crystalline materials, Bloch's theorem and band theory, phonons, electronic properties of semiconductors, superconductivity, superfluidity, low dimensional materials, quasi-periodic and amorphous solids.
  2. Spectroscopy: and quantum scattering theory, fundamentals of diffraction for X-rays, electrons and neutrons, diffraction from crystals and amorphous materials.
  3. Laboratory work: experimental laboratory work on relevant topics.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe concepts and perform calculations in Scattering Theory, which involves light and matter waves, and the scattering of X-ray, neutrons and electrons.
  2. Describe concepts and perform calculations in Spectroscopy, which include interactions of photons and particles with matter, absorption and scattering cross-sections, elastic and inelastic scattering.
  3. Describe concepts and perform calculations in Condensed Matter Physics, which involve crystal structures in 1D, 2D and 3D, quasicrystals, phonons, metals, nanomaterials, superfluidity and superconductivity.
  4. Perform measurements and analysis on experiments that demonstrate the theoretical physics described in this and other physics units.
  5. Produce experimental reports that present results, analyse and discuss the implications and outcomes of experimental work.


Examination (3 hours): 46%

Laboratory work: 34%

Assignments: 20%

Hurdle requirement: Students must achieve a pass mark in the practical component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

  • Two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour tutorial per week
  • An average of two hours in the laboratory per week
  • Seven hours of independent study per week

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study