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Introduction to Crystallography

Module PH2295

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 2021

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 2022SS 2021SS 2020

Basic Information

PH2295 is a semester module in language at Master’s level which is offered irregularly.

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 PH2295 in the version of SS 2021 was Christian Pfleiderer.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This module gives an introduction to the description and properties of crystalline solids. First, the geometrical and mathematical basics of the description of crystals are introduced, for example the representation and application of symmetry properties and space groups. Then, based on the atomic structure of crystals, their crystal chemistry and structure are discussed. In addition, typical deviations from the ideal crystal structure are discussed, e.g. defects and disorder but also structural changes at phase transitions. Experimental methods for determining the real structure of crystals like X-ray and neutron diffraction are an essential tool in solid state physics and chemistry. Therefore, they will be discussed in detail in this module. Both the advantages and limits of the different methods for different applications are considered, as well as the resulting requirements for the samples. Finally, the relationships between macroscopic physical properties and crystalline structure and symmetry properties respectively via tensor calculations will be shown.

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the module the students are able to:

  1. read and explain the basic structural properties of different crystal structures based on their space groups;
  2. name possible methods for the growth of crystalline solids and their impact on the real structures;
  3. understand and explain the physical aspects of certain examination methods, in particular the physical interaction between the samples and the probe;
  4. reproduce and explain the technical implementation of various experimental methods;
  5. select and outline a suitable method of analysis for structural determination depending on the crystallographic topic to deal with;
  6. bring the required properties of a sample into line with the chosen method;
  7. explain the fundamental coupling between given structure symmetries and certain physical properties.


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

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Introduction to Crystallography Pfleiderer, C.
Assistants: Meven, M.
Thu, 10:00–12:00, PH 1121
UE 2 Exercise to Introduction to Crystallography Meven, M.
Responsible/Coordination: Pfleiderer, C.
dates in groups eLearning

Learning and Teaching Methods

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module consists of a lecture which includes a projector presentation, in which both PowerPoint slides for graphic illustration and text writing with digital ink are used. This mixture does not only allow a quicker overview of facts and experiments but also an adaptation of the lecture pace to the speed of the students. Selected smaller "homework" with a direct in-depth reference to the lecture material will be discussed during the following lecture date. The time frame of the lecture allows a lot of interaction and the answering of questions during the presentations. The resulting scientific discussions actively involve the students.

The interplay of slide presentation for overview and details as well as text writing and discussion time to found basic knowledge, as well as an optional laboratory tour, allows the students to acquire the specific skills formulated above in relation to the crystallography and crystallographic methods for structure determination.


Blackboard and powerpoint presentation, complementary literature, internet


  1. Borchardt-Ott, W: Kristallographie: Eine Einführung für Studierende der Naturwissenschaften (2018)
  2. Kleber, W. et al.: Einführung in die Kristallographie (2010)
  3. Massa, W.: Kristallstrukturbestimmng (2009)

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 and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • name different space groups and their geometric properties.
  • discuss the physical mechanisms underlying the concept of diffractometry.
  • explain the main differences between powder and single-crystal samples when choosing suitable test methods.
  • outline the concrete technical implementation of a method for structure determination by means of diffraction, as discussed in the lecture.

Exam Repetition

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

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