FALL 2005


Instructor: Dr. Branislav K. Nikolic

Contact:  Email:   Phone: (302) 831-2943 Fax: (302) 831-1637.

Class mailing list:

Instructor Information: I am a condensed matter theorist, currently focused on spintronics, mesoscopic physics, quantum chaos, and quantum information science.  See the home page of Quantum Transport Theory Group or of my Teaching for more information.

Course Prerequisites: Familiarity with single-particle Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics of non-interacting bosons and fermions.


Course Topics:
Crystal Structure
Chemical bonding, Crystal lattices and symmetry groups, Real space vs. Reciprocal space, Fourier analysis, Crystal X-Ray diffraction
Fermi liquid 
Free electron gas, Particles and holes, Adiabatic mapping to Landau quasiparticles
Band Structure of Solids
Metals, Fermi surface, Density functional theory, Insulators, Semiconductors, Doping, Examples: Graphite and Carbon nanotubes
Lattice Vibrations
Normal modes, Phonons, Specific Heat, Thermal Conductivity, Quantum theory of neutron scattering
Phase Transitions and Many-Body Phenomena
Broken symmetries and classifications of phases, Classical vs. Quantum phase transitions, Mermin-Wagner theorem, Mott and Anderson insulators
Classical and Quantum Transport
Dynamics of Bloch electrons, Bloch-Boltzmann semiclassical transport theory, Magnetotransport and the Hall Effect, Quantum transport in nanostructures



Computer Lab:
  • Office hours: Wednesday 2:00PM-4:00PM in 234 Sharp Lab , or by appointment (check my schedule and then send me an email).
  • Classes start on Tuesday, August 30 and end on Wednesday December 7.
  • Breaks: September 5, October 28, Thanksgiving: November 23 - November 27; October 4-October 7, Instructor's travel schedule.
  • Exams: Final exam is on Friday, December 9, 3:30PM-5:30PM.



This course is a mix of homework problems and Research projects:

  • Homeworks: There will be approximately one homework assignment per week, assigned on Thursday and due on Thursday the following week. As a rule, late assignments will not be accepted without the prior consent of the instructor. You may collaborate with others on the problems, but you must make a note of your collaborators (just as if you were writing a scientific paper). Noting your collaborators does not in any way detract from your grade. However, each problem set must be written individually-do not simply copy your collaborator's solutions verbatim (this will be considered a form of plagiarism). Please have mercy on your grader and make your solutions neat, concise, and intelligible. Solutions which are seriously lacking in any of these categories will be marked down, even if they are ostensibly "correct.''
  • Usage of Computer Algebra Software (Maple or Mathematica) is strongly encouraged (the packages are available on all shared Departmental computers and can be accessed via X-tunneling). Commented Maple or Mathematica worksheets will be accepted as solutions to the homework assignments.
  • Research Projects: Instead of midterm exam, a Projects will be assigned, on the Research Project section of the course Web site, in the middle of the semester. It will involve usage of numerical tools (i.e., programming in low-level, such as Fortran or C, or high-level, such as Mathematica, languages). The final Report (written in the form emulating a scientific paper - see guidelines for more information) is due two weeks after the project is assigned, at midnight. The Report should be submitted by email.   
  • Exams: There will be a final exam in December consisting of simple questions and homework-like problems.


Although this is a bit advanced course, a conventional letter grade will be assigned at the end of the semester. Your final grade is determined using the following approximate formula: homeworks contribute 40%, midterm Project 20% and the Final exam 40% to your grade. Here is a guideline for the final grades, as a percentage of the total number of points (scaled as above): 85-100, some type of A; 65-84, some type of B; 65 and below, some type of C. These numbers may be lowered, depending upon numerous factors, but will not be raised (i.e., if you have an 80 average you are assured of at least an A-). The course grades are not curved.

Main Textbook
Supplementary Material