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Materials Physics on an Atomistic Scale 1

Module PH2218

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 2015

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
WS 2020/1WS 2019/20WS 2018/9SS 2015

Basic Information

PH2218 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 30 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2218 in the version of SS 2015 was Winfried Petry.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This module is concerned with the arrangement and movement of atoms in solids. As these aspects determine to a large part the macroscopic properties of matter, their microscopical understanding is fundamental to, e.g., the tuning of materials for technological applications.

Going beyond the coverage of an introductory Solid State Physics course, in the first semester the following topics pertaining to the static arrangement of atoms in solids will be treated in detail:

  • symmetries -- point groups, space groups, Bravais lattices, positions within the unit cell
  • crystal structures -- elementary systems and compounds
  • point defects
  • aspects of order -- short-range and long-range order
  • statistics and thermodynamics -- fundamental models for predicting observables from microscopic parameters
  • phases and phase diagrams

For all the above points both a general description of the relevant concepts as well as a motivation by microscopic models will be given, but also a quantitative discussion of their realization in typical systems. In the following summer term the second part of the lecture will treat the dynamics of atoms in solids, that is, oscillatory (phonons) and diffusive dynamics, and their relevance for materials physics.

Learning Outcome

Upon successful completion of the module, students are able to

  • list the main crystal structures and analyze them with respect to their symmetries
  • understand and predict which structure a given system will assume
  • to apply the concepts relevant for describing point defects and to understand their behaviour
  • to apply simple statistical and thermodynamical models
  • to read phase diagrams and to deduce thermodynamic aspects, as well as to predict the phase diagrams resulting from given microscopic parameters
  • to have a feeling for the typical values of the physical quantities relevant for the atomic scale, such as distances and energies, and to understand their consequences

Generally, this modul intends to bring the students to a point where they can rationalize the results of theoretical or experimental investigations of pertinent aspects from the point of view of the present state of science, and thus to prepare them for original research.


No preconditions exceeding the admission requirements for the master degree program.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Materials Physics on an Atomistic Scale 1 Leitner, M. Wed, 10:00–12:00, PH-Cont. C.3201

Learning and Teaching Methods

In the lecture, the learning content is presented by blackboard writing and verbal lecturing, with a detailed discussion of the treated phenomena. Here active contributions from the students (comprehension questions) are invited. To consolidate the content, private study of the provided lecture script is indicated.


A lecture script will be provided, outlining the essential contents, but not superseding the detailed discussions given in the lecture.


Fundaments of solid-state physics:

  • Neil W. Ashcroft, N. David Mermin: Solid State Physics
  • H. Ibach, H. Lüth: Festkörperphysik
  • Ch. Kittel: Introduction to Solid State Physics
  • R. Gross, A. Marx: Festkörperphysik
  • U. Rössler: Solid State Theory: An Introduction

Statistical physics:

  • F. Schwabl: Statistische Mechanik

Materials physics:

  • G. Gottstein: Physikalische Grundlagen der Metallkunde
  • P. Haasen: Physikalische Metallkunde

classical solid-state chemistry:

  • J. Maier: Festkörper - Fehler und Funktion

atomic aspects of solids:

  • M. T. Dove: Structure and Dynamics: An Atomic View of Materials

specialized aspects:

  • W. Borchardt-Ott: Crystallography. An Introduction
  • R. J. D. Tilley: Defects in Solids

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

In an oral exam the learning outcome is tested using comprehension questions and sample problems.

Remarks on associated module exams

The exam for this module can be taken together with the exam to the associated follow-up module PH2219: Materialphysik auf atomarer Skala 2 / Materials Physics on an Atomistic Scale 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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