Skip to main content

Unit information: Core Physics 303 in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Core Physics 303
Unit code PHYS30030
Credit points 30
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Dugdale
Open unit status Not open

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



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit comprises the balance of material essential mainly for a Masters degree in a Physics or Physics-related programme consisting of matter in the condensed date including crystalline structures and free-electron theory, materials, semiconductors and magnets, the operator formalism of Quantum Mechanics, Dirac notation, perturbation theory. Comprises PHYS32011 Quantum Physics 301 and PHYS30021 Solid State Physics 302.


  • To understand the concept of reciprocal lattice and the behaviour of electrons in a crystalline solid including the classification of solids, their electronic properties and how to measure and calculate them.
  • To introduce the electronic structure and physical properties of a semiconductor. To reveal how p-n junctions, semiconductor lasers and LEDs work.
  • To present simple qualitative models to relate the behaviour of electrons in a crystal to magnetism.
  • To introduce the operator formalism in quantum mechanics, Dirac notation, perturbation theory.

Intended learning outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • Recognise the importance of the reciprocal lattice and relevance to diffraction. Be able to calculate and explain band structure related properties in crystalline systems and construct simple Fermi surfaces from given electron density or electronic bands.
  • describe the motion of an electron in a band.
  • describe the electronic structure and physical properties of a semiconductor.
  • distinguish between diamagnetism, paramagnetism, ferromagnetism and antiferromagnetism, and to understand what gives rise to these phenomena in


  • phrase and analyse any problem in quantum mechanics within the formalism of Dirac notation.
  • use the mathematical structures used by Dirac notation to do practical calculations.
  • explain why approximation techniques are required to solve generic quantum mechanical problems and indicate when and how these techniques must be applied.
  • formulate problems and perform calculations within the variational principle, perturbation theory, degenerate perturbation theory and time-dependent perturbation theory.
  • analyse the time-dependence of quantum mechanical systems, in any one of its three pictures
  • explain the relation between perturbation theory and the roles of time evolution and symmetry transformations in quantum mechanics.

Teaching details

Lectures and Problems classes

Assessment Details

Written examinations comprising 1 3-hour paper in Solid State Physics and 1 2-hour paper in Quantum Mechanics. Attendance at problems classes may contribute to the award of credit points.

Reading and References

Kittel Introduction to Solid State Physics Ibach and Luth Solid State Physics

There are many text books on Quantum Mechanics. For more detail and further recommendations see PHYS32011 Quantum Mechanics unit information.
- “Introduction to Quantum Mechanics”, by D.J. Griffiths.
- “Modern Quantum Mechanics”, by J.J. Sakurai.
- “The principles of Quantum Mechanics”, by P.A.M. Dirac.
- “Quantum Mechanics”, by A. Messiah (2 volumes) as a reference book. This is very thorough and detailed discussion of all of quantum mechanics. It is not so useful as a text book to learn from, but a very good source of information if you want to look up more details on any of the subjects we will cover.