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Superconductivity and Low Temperature Physics 1

Module PH2031

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2017/8

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

available module versions
WS 2018/9WS 2017/8WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH2031 is a semester module in German or English language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 60 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2031 in the version of WS 2017/8 was Rudolf Gross.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This module provides a detailed discussion of the fascinating properties and applications of superconductivity. The following specific topics will be addressed:  

  • history of superconductivity
  • foundations (superconducting materials,superconductors in an applied magnetic field, type-I and type-II superconductors, thermodynamics of superconductors)
  • phenomenological description of superconductivity (London- and Ginzburg-Landau theory)
  • flux quantization, Josephson-effects, superconducting quantum interference devices
  • foundation of the microscopic (BCS) theory
  • critical currents of superconductors
  • foundations of high temperature superconductivity
  • applications of superconductivity

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the module the students are able:

  • to describe the the historical development of the research field of superconductivity.
  • to list the basic properties of superconductors and to identify their relevance for applications.
  • to describe the behavior of superconductors in an external magnetic field and to explain the difference between type-I and type-II superconductors.
  • to illustrate the thermodynamic properties of superconductors. 
  • to present the basic ideas behind the phenomenological theories of superconductivity (London theory, Ginzburg-Landau theory) and to apply their basic results for the description of perfect conductivity, the Meißner effect, fluxoid quantization as well as the characteristic length scales of superconductors.
  • to explain the foundations of BCS-theory.
  • to describe the phenomenaon of flux pinning and to explain its relevance for the critical currents of type-II superconductors.
  • to describe the basic properties of high temperature superconductors.
  • to list the most relevant applications of superconductors. 


Basic knowledge on condensed matter physics and quantum mechanics

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

In the thematically structured lecture the learning content is presented by blackboard work, beamer presentation). With cross-references between different topics the universal concepts in physics are shown. The students are involved in scientific discussions to stimulate their analytic and physics-related intellectual power.

In the exercise groups the learning content is deepened and exercised using problem examples and calculations. Thus the students are able to explain and apply the learned physics knowledge independently.


Lecture Notes, exercise sheets, supplementary literature, PowerPoint slides, movies, etc..


  • Lecture notes and handouts
  • Tinkham: Introduction to Superconductivity
  • Fossheim, Sudbo: Superconductivity - Physics and Applications
  • Buckel, Kleiner: Supraleitung
  • de Gennes: Superconductivity of Metals and Alloys

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 30 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be: --

Participation in the tutorials is strongly recommended since the exercises prepare for the problems of the exam and rehearse the specific competencies.

Remarks on associated module exams

The exam for this module can be taken together with the exam to the associated follow-up module PH2032: Supraleitung und Tieftemperaturphysik 2 / Superconductivity and Low Temperature Physics 2 after the follwoing semester. In this case you need to register for both exams in the following semester.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester. There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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