Materials Physics on an Atomistic Scale 2

Module PH2219

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.

Basic Information

PH2219 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.

  • General catalogue of special courses
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics

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 40 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2219 is 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 and continuing the course PH2218: Materials Physics on an Atomistic Scale 1, the following topics will be treated in detail:

  • oscillations of atoms about their equilibrium positions -- phonons
  • atoms exchanging places -- diffusive dynamics, jump mechanisms in elemental systems and ordered compounds, mass flux
  • break-down of long-range order -- glasses, melts, and their dynamics
  • transitions between different states of order -- dynamics and kinetics of phase transitions

For all the above points it is intended to give both a description of the physically observed phenomena and their motivation by microscopic models. Also, the relevant experimental techniques will be indicated and explained in principle, and, where applicable, simple computer models of the effects will be presented and provided to the students for tinkering with. 

Learning Outcome

Upon successful completion of the module, students are able to

  • understand the concept of phonons, their branches and symmetries over reciprocal space, densities of states and anharmonic effects
  • describe the atomic-scale mechanisms of diffusion processes in elemental systems and ordered compounds
  • understand the principles of quasi-elastic scattering methods
  • use the concepts describing the non-crystalline state, such as pair distribution functions, and understand atomic dynamics specific to non-crystalline systems
  • understand the types of phase transitions and order-order transitions
  • predict the path through configuration space a given system takes under a change of external parameters in a qualitative way
  • propose and justify experimental and/or theoretical methods to elucidate simple problems of atomic-scale materials science


No preconditions exceeding the admission requirements for the master degree program. Having participated in the course PH2218: Materials Physics on an Atomistic Scale 1 is beneficial, but no hard requirement.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Materialphysik auf atomarer Skala 2 Leitner, M. Montag, 16:00–18:00
sowie einzelne oder verschobene Termine

Learning and Teaching Methods

Blackboard writing and verbal lecturing with active contributions from students (comprehension questions), occasional use of projector for diagrams, demonstrations of simple computer models (to be provided to the students for hands-on computer experimentation)


small program scripts to demonstrate simple models


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

Statistical physics:

  • F. Schwabl: Statistische Mechanik

Materials physics:

  • G. Gottstein: Physikalische Grundlagen der Metallkunde
  • P. Haasen: Physikalische Metallkunde
  • D. A. Porter, K. E. Easterling: Transformations in Metals and Alloys

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

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

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam at the end of the semester.

Condensed Matter

When atoms interact things can get interesting. Fundamental research on the underlying properties of materials and nanostructures and exploration of the potential they provide for applications.

Nuclei, Particles, Astrophysics

A journey of discovery to understanding our world at the subatomic scale, from the nuclei inside atoms down to the most elementary building blocks of matter. Are you ready for the adventure?


Biological systems, from proteins to living cells and organisms, obey physical principles. Our research groups in biophysics shape one of Germany's largest scientific clusters in this area.