Solid State Physics

Obwoya, S. K. (Sam K.)



Solid state physics forms the backbone of physics. The module has four units: Introduction to solid state physics; Crystal defects and mechanical properties; Thermal and electrical properties; and Band theory & Optical properties. In the first unit/activity i.e. introduction to solid state physics. The student is expected to explain the atomic structure, describe the various atomic bonds such as ionic bonds and covalent bonds. The learning will also require students to distinguish between crystalline and amorphous solids; polycrystalline and amorphous solids and to explain the production and use of X-ray diffraction. In the second unit i.e. crystal defects and mechanical properties, the learning includes, differentiating between the different types of crystal defects: the point defects (vacancy, interstitials, and substitutional) and dislocations (screw and edge). Here, the student learns that point defects are very localised and are of atomic size, while dislocation is a disorder which extend beyond the volume of one or two atoms. The effects of the defects on mechanical, and electrical properties of these defects are also part of the learning that will take place. In unit three the learning outcomes include definitions of heat capacity, and explanations of variation of heat capacity with temperature based on the classical, Einstein and Debye models. The students will be required to use the free electron theory to explain high thermal and electrical conductivities of metals and also be able to derive and apply the Wiedermann-Frantz law. Finally, in activity four, the expected learning should enable the students to use the band theory to explain the differences between conductors, semiconductors and insulators; explain the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors in relation to the role of doping. At the end of it all, the students use the concepts of the interaction of electromagnetic waves (light) with materials to explain optical absorption, reflectivity and transmissivity.

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African Virtual University (AVU)

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