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Introduction to Solid State Physics


Admission Requirements

Active knowledge and understanding of (part of) the courses Statistical Physics 1 and Quantum Mechanics 2. In particular: Quantum statistical physics: Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics, density of states, the free-electrongas. These topics are treated in QM2 before they are needed in ISSP.


This course provides an introduction to Solid State Physics: the physics of matter in the solid state.
In this course, you will learn to understand the material world around you. Therefore, the course is (at this stage of the physics bachelor program) the most relevant physics course that is offered. First steps are taken towards the insight that you can find the universe in a grain of rust!

This subfield of condensed matter physics is both applied (e.g., in electronics) and fundamental.
Quantum mechanics and statistical physics come together in this field.

Specific topics are:

  • the heat capacity of solids

  • electrons in metals

  • structure of materials

  • geometry of solids (crystal lattices)

  • waves in crystals (the reciprocal lattice)

Finally, the course will connect in a qualitative way to modern topics of research in Solid State Physics,
that are often only partially understood: (high-temperature) superconductivity, metal-insulator transitions,
quantum Hall effects, topological matter.

Course objectives

On completing this course you will be able to perform calculations and derivations within a big variety of topics concerning the structure and properties of solids. You will be able to answer questions regarding these topics in your own words.

In particular, you will be able to apply these skills to the following topics:

  • why and how a classical description of atoms and electrons (Boltzmann, Drude theory) needs to be replaced by a quantummechanical description (Einstein/Debye, Sommerfeld theory)

  • why and how lattice vibrations (phonons) and electrons contribute to the heat capacity of materials

  • (three-dimensional) crystals in terms of lattices (unit cells) and reciprocal lattices (Brillouin zones)

  • waves in lattices and scattering of waves from lattices

  • electrons in a periodic potential (Bloch theorem, band structure, metal vs. insulator)

This course prepares you for the third year elective course The Electronic Structure of Solids.

Transferable Skills

  • You can put chains of arguments into writing

  • You plan your time in such a way that the study load is distributed evenly over the various study activities required for this course: studying the textbook, preparing problem sessions, completing exercises and assignments


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

See Brightspace
Lectures, problem sessions, homework.
N.B. The lectures will be in Dutch, but video lectures in English by the author of the textbook for the course are available. The exercises/problems are in English.

Assessment method

Written exam (closed book) with open questions. Proper participation in the problem sessions and handing in homework assignments can earn you a bonus of maximally 1 grade point on top of the exam grade.

Reading list

Textbook: The Oxford Solid State Basics – Steven H. Simon (Oxford University Press, 1st edition, 2013; reprint 2016) (mandatory), ISBN 978-0-19-968077-1 (Pbk.). This book is also used in the third year elective course The Electronic Structure of Solids


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contact Details T.H. Oosterkamp