PHYSICS

First Cycle Degree

HIGHLIGHTS IN CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS

Teachers: 
Credits: 
6
Site: 
PARMA
Year of erogation: 
2020/2021
Unit Coordinator: 
Disciplinary Sector: 
PHYSICS OF MATTER
Semester: 
First semester
Language of instruction: 

Italian

Learning outcomes of the course unit

At the end of the course, the student is expected to be able to:
[Knowledge and understanding]
- know the main physical properties of the solid-state functional materials of practical interest, with a phenomenological approach;
- explain the origin of the depicted phenomena on the basis of experimental findings and of the outlined physical models;
- classify and compare different solid state materials based on their physical characteristics and their applications;
[Applying knowledge and understanding]
- recognize the main problems of Physics of functional materials both at a theoretical and at an experimental level and apply the acquired knowledge to address the study of a topic in such field;
- carry out an autonomous study of a particular class of functional materials based on papers of the up-to-date literature, using the methodological approach developed during the course, which includes the synthesis techniques of the material, the characterization of its physical properties and the related applications; [Applying knowledge and understanding]
[Making judgments]
- recognize and draw connections not only between different parts of the course but also with the basic concepts acquired in other courses (for example Electromagnetism, Introductory Statistical Physics and Chemistry) for developing an ability for autonomous judgment based on an enlarged knowledge of the various aspects of the problem under consideration;
- evaluate critically the validity limits of the developed models and the advantages / disadvantages of the different methodologies;
[Learning skills]
- interpret in its essentials and summarize the content of the most recent literature papers in the field of Physics of functional materials;
[Ability to communicate]
- communicate the product of this study in a clear, synthetic and effective manner, using the correct jargon of the Physics of Matter and Materials Science.

Prerequisites

Suggested prerequisites:
mechanics and thermodynamics,
general chemistry,
electromagnetism and optics,
elements of statistical mechanics.

Course contents summary

The subject of this course are the physical properties of functional materials at the solid state, where the term “functional” refers to materials having a "function", i.e. with applications in various fields of the most advanced technologies, both current and future. For example, the various types of materials used in electronic devices, in energy conversion and storage systems, in devices for information transmission and storage, in sensors and actuators.
The first lectures of this course treat the definition and classification of functional materials based on their physical properties and applications, and general arguments such as the structure of solid-state materials, the solidification process, the defects, the diffusion, the phase diagrams and the phase transitions. Moreover, some important concepts are introduced, like as those of nanostructured, smart, composite and multi-functional material. The main physical methods for the synthesis of solid-state materials, both bulk and nano-structured, are also mentioned.
A series of successive lessons is devoted to the deepening of specific physical properties of functional materials, based on the description of the corresponding materials’ classes and of their applications. In particular, the mechanical, thermal and electric transport, dielectric, electromagnetic, optical, magnetic, spintronic and superconductive properties are treated. The utilized approach is phenomenological, based on the experimental evidence of the studied phenomena, explained using some physical models outlined in their essential aspects. Among the possible examples of classes of functional materials discussed in these lectures, one may cite ferroelectrics, piezoelectrics, semiconductors, superconductors, ferromagnets, shape-memory alloys, photonic materials, and in general meta-materials.
This course also aims to provide an overview of some current research addresses in the field of Physics of Matter applied to specific classes of functional materials.

Course contents

0. Introduction: classification of functional materials based on their physical properties and applications
1. Advanced materials: composites, smart-, multi-functional and nano- materials; functional applications; economic and environmental considerations;
2. General properties of solid-state materials I: crystal structure, solidification process, imperfections
3. General properties of solid-state materials II: thermally activated processes, diffusion, phase diagrams, phase transitions
4. Preparation methods of bulk materials: metallurgical techniques for metals and alloys, synthesis of ceramics, crystal growth
5. Nanostructured materials: classification, thin films, nano-wires, nano-particles, thin film deposition and nanoparticles synthesis methods, nano-lithography, self-assembly
6. Mechanical properties: elastic and plastic deformation, fracture; nanostructures, shape-memory materials, ferroelasticity and superelasticity
7. Thermal properties: heat capacity and thermal conductivity of conductors and insulators; nanostructured materials, phononic meta-materials
8. Electrical conduction properties: metals, insulators and semiconductors; short account on band theory, energy gap, intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors, p-n junction, nanostructured systems, thermo-electric effects
9. Dielectric properties: permittivity and dielectric resistance, polarization mechanisms, ferroelectricity, piezoelectricity, piroelectricity
10. Electromagnetic properties: propagation of em waves in a conductor and in a dielectric, absorption mechanisms, skin depth, em screens, plasmonics and plasmonic meta-materials;
11. Optical properties: appearance of metals, insulators and semiconductors, photoemission, photoconduction, luminescence, stimulated emission, electro-optics, photonics and photonic meta-materials
12. Magnetic properties: magnetic anisotropy and the magnetization process, soft and hard ferromagnetic materials; magnetostriction; magnetic nanostructures, magnonics
13. Spintronic materials: normal and giant magneto-resistance, spin-valve and spintronic devices; magneto-electric materials
14. Superconductor properties: classical and high critical temperature superconductors, magnetic properties; applications
15. Examples of multi-functional materials: multiferroics, magnetic shape-memory alloys, magneto-caloric materials

Recommended readings

Slides of the Powerpoint presentations

W. Smith, J. Hashemi, Scienza e tecnologia dei materiali, 4ed, McGraw-Hill Education, Milano 2012; ISBN-13: 978-88-386-6765-7

H. Fredriksson and U. Åkerlind, Physics of Functional Materials, J. Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, England 2008; ISBN-13: 978-0-470-51757-4

Teaching methods

Teaching methodology:

The teaching methodology will be based primarily on frontal lecturing, with help of audio-visual multimedia instruments. The lectures will be organized face-to-face, with the possibility of attending them even from a distance synchronously (during class hours), through the Teams platform. The links to the recorded videos of the lectures will then be placed on the Elly page of the course (Department of Mathematical, Physical and Computer Sciences: https://elly2020.smfi.unipr.it/course/view.php?id=32), in order to allow to attend the lectures also in asynchronous mode.
The slides of the Powerpoint presentations used to support lectures will be uploaded weekly on the Elly platform. To download slides, the students need to enrol in the course on Elly. Slides are considered an integral part of teaching material.
To deepen some of the topics or classes of functional materials of particular relevance to the current research activity in Physics of Functional Materials at the SMFI Department, the teacher could rely on the collaboration of young researchers who will be able to hold short thematic seminars and stimulate a discussion with students.
Students are also required, at the end of the course, to prepare a brief presentation, which should be the result of independent study, regarding the physical properties of a particular class of functional materials.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final verification of the acquired knowledge and understanding of the covered concepts is performed by an oral exam, evaluated on a scale 0-30. The application to the exam on the ESSE3 web platform is mandatory. The oral exam consists of two parts: in the first, the student performs a short presentation on the properties of a particular class of materials at his/her discretion (weight 2/5); the second part consist of a discussion of arguments chosen in the whole program of the course (weight 3/5).

During the first part of the exam (presentation), the student will be asked to:
- probe the ability to carry out an autonomous study of a particular class of functional materials based on papers of the up-to-date literature, using the methodological approach developed during the course;
- communicate the product of this study by a presentation in a clear, synthetic and effective manner and utilizing the correct jargon of the Physics of Matter and Materials Science.
During the second part of the exam (discussion), the student will be asked to:
- demonstrate the knowledge of the main physical properties of the solid-state functional materials of practical interest, with a phenomenological approach;
- explain the origin of the depicted phenomena on the basis of experimental findings and of the outlined physical models;
- classify and compare different solid state materials based on their physical characteristics and their applications;
- evaluate critically the validity limits of the developed models and the advantages / disadvantages of the different methodologies;
- utilize the correct jargon of the Physics of Matter and Materials Science.
A final sufficient evaluation (> 18/30) is determined if the student is able to show that he/she has mastered the basic notions and contents of the course and is sufficiently able to apply and express them, even simply, to discuss the fundamental properties of studied physical systems and formulate independent critical judgements and opinions, at an acceptable level.
If due to the persistence of the health emergency it is necessary to integrate the conduct of the exams with the remote modality, the oral exam, including the presentation on the properties of a particular class of materials, will be carried out remotely (via Teams), with the same requests as the face-to-face oral exam.

Other informations

Office hours: upon appointment