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Introduction to Crystal Growth

Module PH2144

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 SS 2020 (current)

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

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2020SS 2019WS 2018/9SS 2011

Basic Information

PH2144 is a semester module in German or English language at Master’s level which is offered in summer 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 75 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2144 is Christian Pfleiderer.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


In this module, an introduction to crystal growth is given, ranging from the fundamental physical concepts to techniques as they currently used in both research and industrial production. In addition to teaching the thermodynamic principles, this involves in particular coverage of day-to-day business in laboratories for crystal growth. The module has the following content:

  • Thermodynamics of alloys (phases and phase transitions, equations of state, thermodynamics potentials and equilibria, phase diagrams, Gibbs’ phase rule, …)
  • Treatment of one- and two-component systems in ideal and non-ideal solution
  • Metallurgical phase diagrams (binary, pseudo-binary, ternary) and their application to crystal growth
  • Crystal growth, nucleation, grain selection
  • Transport phenomena (material, momentum, heat) and growth kinetics
  • Techniques for the growth of volume and thin-film samples from solid state, melt, gas phase, and solution
  • Phase analysis and structure determination of single-crystal and polycrystal specimens (diffraction, spectroscopy, microscopy, indirect methods, …)

Learning Outcome

After successful participation, the students are able to explain the basic thermodynamics involved in crystal growth. Moreover, they can discuss processes relevant for crystal growth, such as nucleation and grain selection, in a phenomenological manner. They can interpret metallurgical phase diagrams, inferring basic information on the growth kinetics as well as suitable growth techniques.

For this purpose, the students developed an overview over single crystal growth techniques as they are used throughout research and industrial applications. In particular, the students can describe the underlying physical processes and the key (dis-)advantages of these techniques. Furthermore, the students possess basic knowledge of methods used for the metallurgical characterization of single-crystal and polycrystal samples.


No preconditions in addition to the requirements for the Master’s program in physics.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

During the lecture the basics of both, theory and experimental methods are explained and elucidated by tangible examples. Digital handwriting is used to maintain an adequate pace while developing the basic principles. Functional relationships are illustrated using interactive graphics and short example programs. Open discussions with the students are an important integral part of the lecture. In the examples, experiment and theory are treated on an equal footing, highlighting their close integration.

During the exercises the knowledge is deepened by applying the learned concepts to selected examples. In addition to classical exercises, this includes in particular discussions on examples taken from the topical research as well as visits of crystal growth laboratories.


Digital handwriting using Tablet-PC

Lecture slides, dynamic graphics, videos

Lecture notes with literature references

Exercises and examples


K.-T. Wilke and J. Bohm “Kristallzüchtung”

L. Schultz and J. Freudenberger “Physikalische Werkstoffeigenschaften”

P.R. Sahm, I. Egry and T. Volkmann “Schmelze, Erstarrung, Grenzflächen“

R.-E. Reed-Hill “Physical Metallurgy Principles“

A. Smakula “Einkristalle”

B.R. Pamplin (Ed.) “Crystal Growth”

D.T.J. Hurle (Ed.) “Handbook of Crystal Growth”

W.A. Tiller “The Science of Crystallization”

H. Okamoto “Phase Diagrams for Binary Alloys”

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 25 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, sample calculation, and discussions on the basis of sketches, diagrams, and formulas.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Which forms of enthalpy may play a role in a growth from the melt?
  • Using the relation of Clausius-Clapeyron, explain how changes of pressure or temperature may influence the chemical potential.
  • What is the difference between an ideal and a non-ideal solution?
  • What consequences for the single crystal growth of Ce2Ni7 do you infer from the provided phase diagram of the Ce-Ni system? Which growth technique would you use?
  • A pressed pellet, consisting of powders of yttrium oxide, barium oxide, and copper oxide, was reacted in a furnace at 900°C. When trying to metallurgically characterize the specimen, which methods would you use? Explain your approach.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

Current exam dates

Currently TUMonline lists the following exam dates. In addition to the general information above please refer to the current information given during the course.

Exam to Introduction to Crystal Growth
Mon, 2020-09-21 Dummy-Termin. Wenden Sie sich zur individuellen Terminvereinbarung an die/den Prüfer(in). Anmeldung für Prüfungstermin zwischen Mo, 21.09.2020 und Sa, 17.10.2020. Melden Sie sich bitte nur an, wenn Sie die Prüfung verbindlich auch nach Lektüre der Informationen unter ablegen werden. // Dummy date. Contact examiner for individual appointment. Registration for exam date between Mon, 2020-09-21 and Sat, 2020-10-17. See for further information and only register after reading! till 2020-09-20
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