PHYS 446 – Solid State Physics / Optical Properties 

Fall 2015


Objective:             This course integrates theory of Solid State Physics with experimental demonstrations in the Research Physics Lab.  The course will provide a valuable theoretical introduction and an overview of the fundamental applications of the physics of solids. This course includes theoretical description of crystal and electronic structure, lattice dynamics, and optical properties of different materials (metals, semiconductors, dielectrics, magnetic materials and superconductors), based on the classical and quantum physics principles. Several advanced experiments of X-ray diffraction, Raman Scattering, Photoluminescence, etc., will be carrier out in the Research Physics Lab followed by their theoretical discussion. 


Rotating  GaAs LatticeInstructor:                       

Andrei Sirenko

476 Tiernan, 

tel: (973) 596-5342

Office hours:       Tuesday:                2:30 pm – 6:00 pm and Thursday by appointment


Class Schedule:

Monday, 1  pm | FMH407



Syllabus, lecture notes, and homework assignments will be posted on the Website.


Text:     M. A. Omar, “Elementary Solid State Physics”, Addison-Wesley, 1993.

Charles Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics, 8th Edition, Wiley, 2004.


Supplemental texts:

·        H. Ibach, H. Lüth, “Solid-State Physics. An Introduction to Principles of Materials Science”, Springer, 2003.

·        J. S. Blakemore, "Solid State Physics”, Third Edition, Cambridge University Press, 1985

·        P. Yu and M. Cardona, “Fundamentals of semiconductors”

·        N. W. Ashcroft and N. D. Mermin, “Solid State Physics”



Homeworks: 10 %

Research project / Presentation: 10 %

Two in-class exams: 15% each;

               Final exam: 50%                      



Lecture Slides    and        HOMEWORK

Lecture1             “Crystal structure …”                  HW1 (due Sept 23)

Lecture2             “X-ray diffraction …”                  HW2 (due Sept 30)

Lecture3             “X-ray diffraction and structure factors"

Lecture4             “Phonons …”                                   HW3 (due Oct 10th)

Lecture5             “More phonons …”                       

Lecture6             “Optical properties of solids …”               HW4 (due Nov 3)

Lecture7             “Free electrons …”                        HW5 (due Nov 10th)

Lecture8             “Bonding, Bands, and Electrons in Solids …”                      

Lecture9             “Semiconductors-I …”


Lecture10           “Semiconductors-II …”


Lecture11           Supercond …”


Lecture12           “Magnets …”

                                                                           HW6 (due Nov 29th)



“Review …”


Course Outline:

I.       Crystal structure, symmetry and types of chemical bonds. (Chapter 1)

          The crystal lattice

          Point symmetry

          The 32 crystal classes

          Types of bonding (covalent, ionic, metallic bonding; hydrogen and van der Waals).

II.     Diffraction from periodic structures (Chapter 2)

Reciprocal lattice; Brillouin zones

Laue condition and Bragg law

Structure factor; defects

Methods of structure analysis

HRXRD. Experimental demonstration in the Physics Lab using Bruker D8 Discover XRD

III.   Lattice vibrations and thermal properties (Chapter 3)

Elastic properties of crystals; elastic waves

Models of lattice vibrations


Theories of phonon specific heat and thermal conduction.

Anharmonicity; thermal expansion

Raman Scattering by phonons. Experimental demonstration in the Physics Lab using Ar-laser/SPEX 500M, CCD –based Raman Scattering setup


IV.    Electrons in metals (Chapters 4–5)

Free electron theory of metals

Fermi Statistics

Band theory of solids

V.     Semiconductors (Chapters 6–7)

Band structure.

Electron statistics; carrier concentration and transport; conductivity; mobility

Impurities and defects

Magnetic field effects: cyclotron resonance and Hall effect

Optical properties; absorption, photoconductivity and luminescence

Basic semiconductor devices

Photoluminescence. Experimental demonstration in the Physics Lab using Nd:YAG laser/SPEX –based Photoluminescence setup

VI.    Dielectric properties of solids (Chapters 8)

Dielectric constant and polarizability (susceptibility)

Dipolar polarizability, ionic and electronic polarizability

Piezoelectricity; pyro- and ferroelectricity

Light propagation in solids

VII.    Magnetism (Chapters 9)

Magnetic susceptibility

Classification of materials; diamagnetism, paramagnetism

Ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism

Magnetic resonance

Multiferroic Materials

VIII. Superconductivity (Chapter 10)


Prerequisites: PHYS 432  (E&M-I ) 


Homework: 10 %

Research project: 10 %

Two in-class exams: 15% each;

Final exam: 50%                               



Assignments will be due bi-weekly, usually on Tuesdays. Assignments are due at the beginning of class.

Homework problems, lectures, and text readings will form the basis of the exam problems.



Students will perform a research project on a selected topic of contemporary solid state physics. Each student will study the specific effect of their choice by reviewing scientific journal articles focusing on the effect chosen. A formal report will be written, with a typical length of approximately 10 pages (double spaced) or 10 PowerPoint slides. It should be well organized and include an abstract, figures and reference section. The report will be graded on the basis of its originality, clarity of expression, and technical accuracy. A presentation in the class will be schedule on the last day of the Semester (~ around Dec 10th, second week of December)



There will be two in-class exams and a final exam. The exams will be based on the assigned homework problems, the assigned readings in the text, lecture notes, and the lectures. Students are allowed to use lecture notes and formula sheets. Not allowed to discuss the problems with other students.


Academic honesty

Students are encouraged to discuss the lectures and textbook material, work together on homework problems, and study together for exams. However, students are not allowed to present other people’s work as their own (including copying another student's homework as well as using of problem solutions found on the Internet or elsewhere).


Learning Outcomes and Objectives

·       Students are expected to develop a clear concept of the crystal classes and symmetries and to understand the relationship between the real and reciprocal space.

·       Students will be able to calculate the Braggs conditions for X-ray diffraction in crystals and will calculate the conditions for allowed and forbidden reflections in crystals

·       Students will learn the basics of the optical and acoustic phonons in crystals

·       Students will become familiar with the free-electron model for metals and use the concept of Fermi energy and Fermi temperature.

·       Basic concepts of the band theory of solids will be given to Students, who will be able to predict the optical properties of materials and compounds

·       Students will learn the basic properties of superconductors in the frame of BCS theory

·       Students will master their skills for oral presentations on the selected topics of the modern Solid State Theory.

Understanding of these major concepts of the Solid State Theory will be tested at the two Common Quizzes and the Final Exam.