2019 Properties of Solid Materials

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Mechanical Engineering
Murakami Yoichi  Fushinobu Kazuyoshi 
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Course description and aims

In mechanical engineering, because solid materials are used in various situations from fundamental to application, understanding the properties of materials is highly important. Particularly, it is often desired to possess sound knowledge about thermal properties (thermal conductivity and specific heat) and optical properties based on understandings of the microscopic mechanisms that give rise to the macroscopic properties. Furthermore, it is important to make a right judgement on whether the theoretical framework one should employ toward a specific problem has to be quantum-mechanical or can be classical.
Students are expected to establish such understanding and ability by completing the contents of this course.

Student learning outcomes

By completing this course, students will:
- Understand how microstructure of solid materials and their physical properties dominate their observable macroscopic properties
- Understand the characteristics of the resultant properties
- Have acquired knowledge and ability to rightly judge whether one can use classical theory or should rely on quantum theory for modeling material’s property in various engineering situations


Solid materials, phonon, specific heat, statistics, thermal properties, optical properties, nanomaterials

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

This course consists of eight lectures. Students who enroll in this course are encouraged to take his/her own lecture notes and self-study prior to and after each lecture using the "Reference books" listed below. Supplementary materials may be provided depending on the occasion.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Fundamentals of solid materials: Crystal structures and their expressions (Forms of interatomic bond, symmetry and Bravais lattice, crystal systems/point groups, close-packed structures, reciprocal lattice) Learn fundamentals of solid materials and become able to explain the contents.
Class 2 Properties that arise from lattice (1): Lattice vibration and phonon (Speed of sound, mass-spring model, classification of phonon and phonon dispersion relation) Learn lattice-related properties regarding lattice vibrations and phonons, and become able to explain the contents.
Class 3 Properties that arise from lattice (2): Specific heat and thermal conductivity (Classical model, Einstein model, Debye model, dependence of thermal conductivity on temperature) Learn lattice-related properties regarding specific heat and thermal conductivity, and become able to explain the contents.
Class 4 Properties that arise from electron (1): Overview and classical descriptions (Wiedemann-Franz law, classical statistics, breakdown of classical model), quantum descriptions and resultant specific heat (Quantum statistics, Fermi sphere, electronic density of states, dependence of specific heat on temperature) Learn electron-related properties from both classical and quantum descriptions, and become able to explain the contents.
Class 5 Properties that arise from electron (2): Band theory (Bloch function, emergence of band, group velocity and phase velocity, dispersion relationship, effective mass) Learn electron-related properties from viewpoint of band theory and become able to explain the contents.
Class 6 Optical properties (1): Dielectric materials (Beer's law, complex refractive index, classification of polarization, dielectric dispersion, classical model of dielectric response, complex dielectric constant, reflectivity) Learn optical properties of dielectric materials and become able to explain the contents.
Class 7 Optical properties (2): Metals (Classical model for free-electron response, plasma frequency, dependence of reflectivity on wavelength, AC/DC conductivity, surface plasmon resonance, methods of tuning optical properties in metallic nanomaterials) Learn optical properties of metals and become able to explain the contents.
Class 8 Optical properties (3): Semiconductors (Some aspects and types of semiconductors, Fermi golden rule, joint density of states and optical absorption coefficient, quantum confinement, criterion for judging material's dimension, optical properties and application of low-dimensional semiconductors) Learn optical properties of semiconductors and become able to explain the contents.


See "Reference books, course materials, etc." below.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

J. S. Blakemore, "Solid State Physics", Cambridge University Press. (for entire this course)
M. Fox, "Optical Properties of Solids", Oxford University Press. (for lectures #6 to #8)
C. L. Tien and J. H. Lienhard, "Statistical Thermodynamics", Hemisphere Publishing Corp. (for reference)

Assessment criteria and methods

A final exam is taken place during the "extra courses and end of term exams" period (planned on 9th week) and the assessment is to be made based on the results. During the exam, one can only refer to “lecture notes of this course hand-written by his/her own on papers or notebook pages” and “printed-out papers of supplementary materials made and distributed during this course by the lecturers”. Note that referring to any copies (including those printed out) of other people’s lecture notes and printed-out materials (including books, etc.) are prohibited during the exam. For the exam, bring a scientific calculator. Any use of mobile devices including smart phones and laptop PCs during the exam is prohibited.

Related courses

  • Other mechanical engineering and energy related courses

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

For graduate students:
No prerequisites. (However, a registration to this class might not be approved in case a student has already obtained credits from other solid-state-physics-related classes of similar contents, because of potentially large overlaps in the contents depending on the course/department an attendee belongs to.)

For undergraduate students:
Because this is a graduate level course, the enrollment is not permitted for undergraduate students except cases when the subject of this course is highly related to his/her graduate thesis research. If one is an undergraduate student and wishes to be enrolled in this course, one first need to contact the lecturer of this course for an interview. The enrollment permission may be given based on the reasons explained in the interview.

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