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Durham University

Department of Physics

PHYS4221 Advanced Physics 4 (2012/13)

Details of the module's prerequisites, learning outcomes, assessment and contact hours are given in the official module description in the Faculty Handbook - follow the link above.  A detailed description of the module's content is given below, together with book lists and a link to the current library catalogue entries.  For an explanation of the library's categorisation system see



Dr S. Brand

12 lectures + 2 examples classes in Michaelmas Term


Required: Introduction to Solid State Physics, C. Kittel (Wiley)

Syllabus: crystal lattices, reciprocal lattice, Brillouin zone, Bloch's theorem, nearly-free electrons, band gaps, energy bands, effective masses, tight binding model, intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors, holes, p- and n-type impurities, Fermi level. Electron and hole motion in electromagnetic fields, scattering mechanisms, optical properties, p-n junctions, depletion layers.

Optical Properties of Solids

Dr S. Brand

12 lectures + 2 examples classes in Michaelmas and Epiphany Term


Required: Optical Properties of Solids, M. Fox (Second Edition, Oxford University Press 2010)
The course is defined by this book and in particular the material defined in the syllabus below where the numbers refer to the sections in the book.
Required: Introduction to Solid State Physics, C. Kittel (Wiley)
The course is defined by this book, in particular Chapters 14-15.


  1. Optical coefficients, complex refractive index, dielectric constant, classification of optical materials [Fox Chapter 1.1-1.4]
  2. Optics in the solid state: crystal symmetry, electronic bands, vibronic bands, density of states [Fox Chapter 1.5-1.6]
  3. Propagation of light in an optical medium: atomic, vibrational and free electron oscillators [Fox Chapter 2.1]
  4. The dipole oscillator model: Lorentz oscillator, Kramers-Kronig equations [Fox Chapter 2.2, Kittel Chapter 15]
  5. Dispersion, anisotropy, birefringence [Fox Chapter 2.3-2.4]
  6. Interband absorption: transition rates, joint density of states, electric field (Franz-Keldysh) and magnetic field effects, indirect band absorption [Fox Chapter 3.1-3.3]
  7. Exciton states: binding energy, Frenkel excitons: alkali halides, organic molecules [Fox Chapter 4, Kittel Chapter15]
  8. Light emission in solids: interband luminescence emission, spontaneous emission rates, solid state optical devices (LEDs) [Fox Chapter 5.1-5.2, 5.4]
  9. Free electron effects in solids: plasma reflectivity, plasmons [Fox Chapter 7.1-7.3, 7.5, Kittel Chapter 14]
  10. Optical properties of molecules: electronic-vibrational coupling, configuration coordinate diagrams, Franck-Condon principle, stokes shift [Fox Chapter 8.1-8.3, Kittel Chapter 15]
  11. Vibrational states: optically active phonons, polariton coupled optical-vibrational states, polarons, inelastic light scattering [Fox Chapter 10, Kittel Chapter 15]
  12. Nonlinear optics: nonlinear susceptibility, resonant non-linearities, frequency mixing [Fox Chapter 11.1-11.2]

Soft Condensed Matter Physics 

Prof T. McLeishDr S. Fielding and Dr E. Bromley 12 lectures + 2 examples classes in Epiphany Term


Required: Soft Condensed Matter, R. A. L. Jones (Oxford Master Series in Physics, 2002, ISBN 0 19 850589)
The course is defined by this book, in particular Chapters 2, 3, 5 and 9.

Syllabus: An overview of soft matter and the length scales, time scales and forces that are relevant. Polymer structure, dynamics and elasticity. Phase transitions in soft condensed matter. Equilibrium phase diagrams and liquid-liquid demixing. The kinetics of phase separation. Self assembly of amphiphilic molecules through aggregation and phase separation. Polymer and block copolymer self-assembly.


3 lectures in Easter Term, one by each lecturer.

Teaching methods

Lectures: 2 one-hour lectures per week

Examples classes: These provide an opportunity to work through and digest the course material by attempting exercises and assignments assisted by direct interaction with the lecturers and demonstrators. Students will be divided into groups, each of which will attend one one-hour class every three weeks.

Dissertation: Students undertake a dissertation in Physics of approximately 3000 words in length.
The subject matter is to be chosen with the advice of the course lecturers who will provide a list of suitable topics. The aim should be to pick a topic which has a high physics content appropriate for Level 4, which is accessible to the student and can be readily researched, and which can be discussed satisfactorily within the word count limit. The technical level should be advanced, rather than introductory.
Students should discuss with the lecturer the qualities expected in the dissertation, but an indication of these is given in the mark proforma used for assessment. The proforma will be made available to students for their information at the beginning of the Michaelmas Term. The dissertation is summatively assessed.
The marked dissertations along with the completed proformas (giving the marks awarded for the dissertation) will be returned to students before the end of the Epiphany Term.

Problem exercises:  See