C3 Condensed Matter Major Option

C3 option coordinator: r [dot] nicholas [at] physics [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk (Prof Robin Nicholas)

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The 4th year condensed matter physics option covers all the topics introduced in the 3rd year course, but at an academically much more satisfying level. The course is primarily aimed at those interested in pursuing a research career, and is designed to take you to a level where you can comprehend research publications over a wide range of areas. This year (2015/16) the course will begin with the lectures on 'Band Theory and Electronic Properties of Solids'.

Slides from introductory talk on C3 option can be found here.

Reading material and vacation exercises for students considering taking C3 in 2015/16 can be found here.
Solutions to the vacation problems will be posted in September.

Formal Syllabus

  • Symmetry. Crystal structure, reciprocal lattice, Brillouin zones — general treatment for non-orthogonal axes. X-ray, neutron and electron diffraction. Disordered materials.
  • Lattice dynamics. Measurement of phonon dispersion. Thermal properties of crystals. Phase transitions. Soft modes.
  • Electronic structure of solids. Semiconductors. Transport of heat and electrical current. Fermiology. Landau quantisation. Low-dimensional structures.
  • Lorentz oscillator model. Optical response of free electrons and lattice. Optical transitions in semiconductors. Excitons.
  • Isolated magnetic ions. Crystal field effects. Magnetic resonance. Exchange interactions. Localized and itinerant magnets. Magnetic ordering and phase transitions, critical phenomena, spin waves. Domains.
  • Conventional and unconventional superconductors. Thermodynamic treatment. London, BCS and Ginzburg–Landau theories. Flux quantization, Josephson effects, quantum interference.

Recommended Reading


  • Ashcroft and Mermin, Solid State Physics , Saunders, 1976.
  • Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics (8th Ed), Wiley, 2005.
  • Burns, Solid State Physics, Academic Press, 1990.
  • Chaikin and Lubensky, Principles of Condensed Matter Physics, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Individual Topics

  • Dove, Structure and Dynamics, Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Hammond, The Basics of Crystallography and Diffraction, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Giacovazzo et al., Fundamentals of Crystallography, Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Radaelli, Symmetry in Crystallography, Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Singleton, Band Theory and Electronic Properties of Solids, Oxford University Press 2001.
  • Fox, Optical Properties of Solids, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Blundell, Magnetism in Condensed Matter, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Yosida, Theory of Magnetism, Springer, 1996.
  • Annett, Superconductivity, Superfluids and Condensates, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Tinkham, Introduction to Superconductivity, McGraw-Hill, 1996.
  • Blundell, Superconductivity: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Condensed Matter Physics Subdepartment

Intercollegiate classes

Details of the classes for 2014/15 are listed here

Lectures, Handouts and Problem Sets

The course is divided into five section: crystal structure & dynamics, optical properties of solids, band theory, magnetism and superconductivity. Details of each part are given below. Lecture notes and problem sheets are only available for download within the university computer network (if you are outside Oxford you must use the login given in the lectures).

Band Theory and Electronic Properties of Solids (2014/15)

Prof RJ Nicholas [10 lectures (MT), 2 classes]

Detailed syllabus [pdf]

Problem Sets

Lecture Notes

Handout 1 covers revision of 3rd year material

Lectures begin with material covered in Handout 2 (Bloch's Theorem)

Crystal Structure & Dynamics (2014/15)

Prof PG Radaelli [11 lectures (MT), 2 classes]

Detailed syllabus [pdf]

Problem Sets

Lecture Notes

Lecture Slides

Supplementary Material:
Mostly full ab initio derivations of all the important formulas and some additional topic.

Reference material:

Magnetism (2014/15)

Dr R Coldea [7 lectures (HT), 1 class]

Optical Properties of Solids (2014/15)

Dr LM Herz [6 lectures (TT), 1 class]

Superconductivity (2014/15)

Dr Peter Leek [7 lectures (TT), 1 class]

C3_intro15.pdf811.87 KB
C3_vacprobs15.pdf60.11 KB