Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics

Course Information & Syllabus for Physics 488/588, “Introduction to Advanced Condensed Matter Physics” Fall 2016

Course Number and Name: Physics 454, Intermediate Modern Physics I

Class Time and Location: 11:45 -13:30 am; GN 218A

Credits and Contact Hours: 3 credits (two 75-minute lectures each week); an additional hour each week (during office hours)

Instructor:  Dr. Edwin Fohtung

  • Phone: 575- 646-5631(NMSU-Physics); 505-667-8252 (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
  • Email: (Please use Canvas mail.)
  • Office: GD Hall 259A
  • Office hours: Wednesday 16:00-17:00 or by appointment

Recommended Textbooks:

  1. W. Ashcroft and N. D. Mermin, Solid State Physics, Thomson Publishing, 1976.
  2. Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics, 8th edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2005.


  1. P. Marder, Condensed Matter Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2000.
  2. M. Ziman, Principles of the Theory of Solids, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press,1979.
  3. M. Martin, Electronic Structure: Basic Theory and Practical Methods, Cambridge

University Press, 2004.

Specific Course Information:

  1. Catalog description: Introduction to Condensed Matter Physics, focusing on the study of matter in solid
  2. Prerequisites or co-requisites: PHYS 315 (pre-req), or consent of instructor.

Specific Goals of the Course:

  1. Specific outcomes of instruction: This course provides the fundamental knowledge to condensed matter physics and related phenomena.
  2. Related ABET Outcomes: PHYS 488/588 addresses Program Outcome e) develop an ability to identify, formulate, and solve problems in condensed matter physics.


Quizzes: There will be six classroom quizzes, with the lowest quiz grade being dropped. For quizzes, you may bring a calculator and two handwritten A4 letter-size sheet with any notes and equations you fit on it There are no makeup quizzes unless you have a medical doctor’s note or you are absent on university business.

Exams:   There will be a midterm exam and a final take home exams with every student expected to submit a “peer review publishable” final report.

IMPORTANT DATES (strictly enforced):
Last day to ADD a course:                               August 26th
Last day to WITHDRAW from course:                        October 17th  (course listed on transcript with W)

Grading Weighting:  The final grade will be determined by the following weighing:

Homework                                                                              20%

Quizzes                                                                                   25%

Midterm Exam                                                                        25%

Final Comprehensive Oral Exam                                            30%

TOTAL:                                                                                    100%

Grade Scale: Grades at NMSU are expressed in letters, which carry grade points used in calculating your cumulative grade-point average (GPA). You can look up how grades are converted into grade points at Performance in my course will be allocated according to the following schedule:

90 – 100%                    A

75 – 90%                      B

60 – 75%                      C

45 – 60%                      D

0  –  45%                      F

Course Objective &Description: Physics 488/588 is an introduction to condensed matter physics. No prior knowledge of condensed matter physics is required.

Class attendance, class participation and quizzes: You are expected to read the scheduled sections in the text before coming to class. There is a fair amount of material covered in this course, so we generally move fast. We will not necessarily cover all the material in the chapters, but we will go over the more difficult parts. You will be responsible for all assigned material, however. In order not to fall behind, you must attend and participate in all classes. During class, you have the opportunity to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Course Outline


  1. Crystal Structure

Classification of Bravais lattices; reciprocal lattice; Miller indices; X-ray diffraction; Bragg law; Ewald’s construction; structure and form factors.

  1. Advanced Synchrotron X-ray & XFEL Characterization techniques

In this chapter, an extensive introduction to synchrotron and X-Ray Free Electron Lasers (XFELs) facilities and associated techniques shall be studied. Synchrotrons and XFELs (X-ray free-electron lasers) are considered to be Science’s premier microscopic tools. They’re used in scientific disciplines as diverse as molecular biology, environmental science, cultural heritage, catalytical chemistry, and studies of the electronic properties of novel materials, even dynamical studies and sub-picosecond to femtosecond 3D imaging of phonons and magnons in-operando in device relevant materials- to name but a few examples. In this section, we shall briefly address valuable insights into this broad spectrum of scientific disciplines, from the generation of x-rays – via a description of the machines that produce intense x-ray sources – to modern experiments performed using these facilities.

  1. Classification of Solids

Covalent, molecular, and ionic crystals; hydrogen bonds; cohesive energy; bulk modulus; Madelung constant; simple pair potentials.

  1. Free Electron Theory of Metals

Classical models and their limitations; free electron gas; density of states; Fermi momentum, energy, and temperature; specific heat of electron gas; electrical and thermal conductivity of metals.

  1. Band Structure of Solids

Periodic potentials; Bloch’s theorem; nearly free electron model; energy gap; Fermi surface and Brillouin zones; energy bands; tight-binding method; methods for computing electronic structure.

  1. Lattice Vibrations

Harmonic crystal; Dulong and Petit law; classical and quantum models of specific heat; phonons; Einstein and Debye models; phonon scattering and dispersion; lattice thermal conductivity; electron-phonon interactions in metals; inelastic scattering.

  1. Semiconductors

Band structure of semiconductors; effective mass theory; intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors; impurity levels and conduction; inhomogeneous semiconductors; p-n junction; drift and diffusion currents.

  1. Optical Properties

Dielectric properties of insulators; dielectric function; polarizability; Clausius-Mossotti relation; refractive index and reflectivity; Kramers-Kronig relations; excitons; optical properties of metals; plasma frequency and plasmons; quantum optics and metasurfaces.

  1. Magnetic Properties

Diamagnetism and paramagnetism; susceptibility; Langevin equation; Curie’s law; Landau and Pauli models; ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism and ferrimagnetism; mean field theory.

  1. Defects in Crystals

Point defects; vacancies and interstitial atoms; annealing; F-centers; line defects; dislocations; stacking faults and grain boundaries.

  1. Topological defects

Topological defects in ferroic crystals

  1. Noncrystalline Solids

Amorphous and disordered materials; radial distribution function and diffraction pattern; glasses; nanostructured materials.

Students with disabilities: If you have, or believe you have, a disability and would benefit from any accommodation(s), you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Trudy Luken in the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office located at Corbett Center, Room 244 (646-6840; to register. If you have already registered, please make sure that your instructor receives a copy of the accommodation memorandum from SSD within the first two weeks of classes. It will be your responsibility to inform either your instructor or SSD representative (in a timely manner) if services/accommodations provided are not meeting your needs. If you have a condition that may affect you ability to exit safely from the premises in an emergency or that may cause an emergency during class, you are encouraged to discuss your concerns with the instructor or the director of Disabled Student Programs. If you have general question about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), call 646-3333. All medical information will be treated confidentially.


Academic and non-academic misconduct:

Misconduct is discussed at Any form of cheating or plagiarism is prohibited, and (if caught) the particular work (exam, quiz, homework, etc.) will be graded with a zero. Students should turn off cell phones, iphones, ipads , pagers, etc. Exams may be scanned or copied by the instructor before returning them to the student. Students should not modify exams and then return them to the instructor to avoid a misunderstanding. All appeals must follow the NMSU academic appeals policy (see catalog). Such appeals need to be in writing.


Excused Absences:

If, for a good reason (NMSU-sponsored event), a student cannot make the due date for a homework assignment or she/he misses a test or exam, the student should inform us beforehand to discuss other arrangements, if possible. If the student’s absence is due to an emergency, the student has to get in contact with us at the earliest possibility following that assignment. We reserve the right to request proof for the occurrence of the emergency (doctor’s note, police accident report, etc.)


Students with disabilities: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) covers issues relating to disability and accommodations. If a student has questions or needs an accommodation in the classroom (all medical information is treated confidentially), contact:

Trudy Luken, Director

Student Accessibility Services (SAS) – Corbett Center, Rm. 244

Phone: (575) 646-6840



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Furthermore, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination to include sexual misconduct: sexual violence (sexual assault, rape), sexual harassment and retaliation.

For more information on discrimination issues, Title IX, Campus SaVE Act, NMSU Policy Chapter 3.25, NMSU’s complaint process, or to file a complaint contact:


Gerard Nevarez, Title IX Coordinator

Agustin Diaz, Title IX Deputy Coordinator

Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) – O’Loughlin House, 1130 University Avenue

Phone: (575) 646-3635



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NMSU Police Department: (575) 646-3311

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NMSU Counseling Center: (575) 646-2731

NMSU Dean of Students: (575) 646-1722

For Any On-campus Emergencies: 911

Academic and non-academic misconduct:

Plagiarism is using another person’s work without acknowledgment, making it appear to be one’s own. Intentional and unintentional instances of plagiarism are considered instances of academic misconduct and are subject to disciplinary action such as failure on the assignment, failure of the course or dismissal from the university. The NMSU Library has more information and help on how to avoid plagiarism at