Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Solid-state physics
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Solid-state physics

Solid-state physics, the largest branch of condensed matter physics, is the study of rigid matter, or solids. The bulk of solid-state physics theory and research is focused on crystals, largely because the periodicity of atoms in a crystal--its defining characteristic--facilitates mathematical modeling, and also because crystalline materials often have electrical, magnetic, optical, or mechanical properties that can be exploited for engineering purposes.

The framework of most solid-state physics theory is the Schrödinger (wave) formulation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. Bloch's Theorem, which characterizes the wavefunctions of electrons in a periodic potential, is an important starting point for much analysis. Since Bloch's Theorem applies only to periodic potentials, and since unceasing random movements of atoms in a crystal disrupt periodicity, Bloch's Theorem is only an approximation, but it has proven to be a tremendously valuable approximation, without which most solid-state physics analysis would be intractable. Deviations from periodicity are treated by quantum mechanical perturbation theory.


External links and references

General subfields within physics Edit
Classical mechanics | Condensed matter physics | Continuum mechanics | Electromagnetism |
General relativity | Particle physics | Quantum field theory | Quantum mechanics |
Solid state physics | Special relativity | Statistical mechanics | Thermodynamics