Topics in Solid State Physics

PHYS 560
Fall Semester, 2007

Igor A. Shovkovy


Monday, Wednesday, Friday


12:00 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.




Overview: This is a Solid State Physics course for physics majors at the graduate level. Tentative list of topics to be covered includes electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties of crystalline solids, including lattice bonding, phonon dynamics, band theory, electrons in metals, semiconductors, and superconductivity.


Objectives: The purpose of this course is to introduce the foundations of Solid State physics, as well as to outline the modern topics on the subject.


Textbook: Introduction to Solid State Physics by Charles Kittel.

Supplementary text: Solid State Physics by N. W. Ashcroft and N. D. Mermin


Attendance policy: Attendance is expected although not mandatory. Students are responsible for all material presented in class, all homework, and for all changes to the schedule or plans which are announced in class.


My office is Currens 305. My office telephone number is 309-298-2743. You are welcome to call me at my office at any time. There is a voice mail if I am not available. My e-mail address is I read my e-mail daily during weekdays. 


Office hours will be on Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. You could make additional appointments with me, but not on short notice. Try to request appointments at least 2 or 3 working days in advance.


The final grade for this course will be based on weekly homework assignments, a mid-term examination, two 15-minute quizzes, and a comprehensive final examination. The following table will be used for determining the maximum score for each category:



40 points

Mid-term examination

20 points

Two 15 minute quizzes

10 points

Final examination

30 points


100 points


The grade will be determined as follows:

A (85-100 points),   B (70-84 points),   C (55-69 points),   D (40-54 points),   E (<39 points)


Homework will be assigned about every week or so. The solutions should be handed in the following week before the class. Late homework will not be accepted. There will be 10 to 12 homework problem sets assigned during the course. Most problems will be graded on a scale from 0 to 10, but exceptions to this rule are possible when the problems are easier or harder than average. At the end of the semester, I will rescale the total homework score so that the maximum is 40 points.

Tentative schedule


The exact schedule for lectures and examinations will depend on how long it takes to cover the material. The following is my best guess as of now (August 2007).  Please note that the mid-term exam is tentatively scheduled for October 15 (Monday). The mid-term exam will have several problems to be solved in class and several problems to be taken home. Each problem will be graded on a scale from 0 to about 10. The answers without solutions will not be accepted. The take-home questions of the mid-term exam will be due on October 17 (Wednesday) before the class (i.e., 12 p.m.). The mid-term/final examination score will be rescaled so that the maximum is 20 points. There will be two 15-minute quizzes, scheduled tentatively for November 7 (Wednesday) and December 3 (Monday). The final comprehensive examination is scheduled for December 10, 1:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m (Monday). Books and notes will not be permitted during quizzes. All exams are open book. No other reference materials will be permitted during exams. There will be no make-up exams.



Tentative description of topics to be covered

Aug. 20, 2007

Classes start

Oct. 15, 2007


Oct. 17, 2007

Take-home problems are due (part of the mid-term examination)

Oct. 19, 2007

Discussion of the mid-term examination problems

Nov. 7, 2007

1st 15-minute quiz

Nov. 19 – 23, 2007

No classes (Thanksgiving)

Dec. 3, 2007

2nd 15-minute quiz

Dec. 10, 2007

FINAL EXAMINATION (1 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.)


For student rights and responsibilities see the WIU web page:

All handouts and homework solutions can be obtained from WesternOnline.

ADA policy: “In accordance with University policy and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), academic accommodations may be made for any student who notifies the instructor of the need for an accommodation. It is imperative that you take the initiative to bring such needs to the instructor’s attention, as he/she is not legally permitted to inquire about such particular needs of students. Students who may require special assistance in emergency evacuations (i.e. fire, tornado, etc.) should contact the instructor as to the most appropriate procedures to follow in such an emergency. Contact Disability Support Services at 309-298-2512 for additional services.”

Last modified August 20, 2007