Piet Schoenherr

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Piet Schoenherr


Piet Schönherr is a researcher in Thorsten Hesjedal's Oxford Thin Film Quantum Materials Group. He received his PhD only recently on the topic of "Growth and characterization of quantum materials nanowires". Previously, he worked at Freie Universität Berlin, Tsinghua University Beijing, and SINANO in Suzhou.

Condensed matter physics 2014

View the tutorials and information about the course. Email if you have any questions.

      BVI: Tutorial schedule

HT Week 8

Topics covered: Magnetism.
Tutorial: Thursday 13th March 2-6pm, Arco Roof Room.
Homework: Homework 5.
Hand in homework: Tuesday 11th March 5pm, "S" pigeon hole in the Clarendon lab.

HT Week 7

Topics covered: Nearly free electrons, tight binding model and semiconductors.
Tutorial: Thursday 6th March 2-6pm, Arco Roof Room.
Homework: Steve Simon's Homework 4.
Hand in homework: Tuesday 4th March 5pm, "S" pigeon hole in the Clarendon lab.

HT Week 3

Topics covered: Lattices and scattering.
Tutorial: Thursday 20th February 2-6pm, Arco Roof Room.
Homework: Steve Simon's Homework 3.
Hand in homework: Tuesday 18th February 5pm, "S" pigeon hole in the Clarendon lab.

HT Week 2

Topics covered: Chemical bonding, phonons and expansion.
Tutorial: Thursday 13th February 2-6pm, Arco Roof Room.
Homework: Steve Simon's Homework 2.
Hand in homework: Tuesday 11th February 5pm, "S" pigeon hole in the Clarendon lab.

HT Week 1

Topics covered: Solid state without the microscopic structure.
Hand in homework: Tuesday 20th January 5pm, "S" pigeon hole in the Clarendon lab.
Class: Thursday 22nd January 2-4pm, Arco Roof Room.
Tutorial: Thursday 22nd January 4-6pm, Arco Roof Room.
Preparation for the tutorial: Tutorial sheet 1.


The study of solids that lead to the field of condensed matter physics began around 1850, when researchers tried to understand the properties of steel or light emitting filaments in light bulbs. Many experimental observations contradicted each other. Within 70 years theorists solved many fundamental problems and in 1921 the German physicist Max Born published a unified theory of crystals. A new branch of physics, condensed matter physics, was born. The 20th century has seen many discoveries in condensed matter physics, that shaped our society. For a student the challenge is to understand the step from atomic physics to sets with an essentially infinite number of atoms. It is a testament to the beauty of solid state physics that we can handle these systems using simple models.

When you wonder, why electronic devices are getting more and more powerful, you see condensed matter research at work. It is an important branch for anyone planning to stay in physics.

      BVI: Course material

This is the link to the official departmental website, but the essentials are as well collected below.

>> Oxford lectures on physics

This is the official Oxford condensed matter physics syllabus:

>> Syllabus


The lecturer has written a highly recommended manuscript on the subject. Other materials on selected topics are available from my predecessors, which I've linked to below.

>> Steve Simon's notes.
>> Tom Ouldridge's notes on scattering, phonons and band theory.
>> Tomi Johnson holes.
The link to the course reading list is given below. Good introductions to the subject are

  • Kittel
  • Hook and Hall
  • Ashcroft and Mermin (advanced)

>> Reading list (p34)

Examination material

Your grade will be massively improved by working through past exam papers. Look at B2 exams before 2011 along with A4/B3 exams before 2004/2005 and ignore questions on photonics, device physics, superconductivity, and symmetries.

>> Past examination papers
>> Sample exam and solutions

Additional resources

Look at Britney Spears' guide to semiconductor physics if you feel bored by dry text books. Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions on the message board