HIGHLIGHTS IN CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The purpose of these lectures is to provide students with an overview of the main physical properties of solid-state functional materials of practical interest, on the basis of a phenomenological approach. For functional materials one means materials classified according to the function they can perform, rather than to their origin, the nature of the chemical bond or the preparation procedure. This schematization is therefore substantially different from the traditional approach that distinguishes materials among metals, alloys, ceramics, glasses, etc.. The functional materials show properties that can be sensitively controlled by variations in external parameters (temperature, stress, electric fields, magnetic fields, radiation, ...) and that can be technologically exploited. In particular, current research has focused on materials which show a strong coupling between different degrees of freedom, for example, structural, electrical, magnetic, optical, ... , so as to present characteristics of multi-functionality. The applications of functional materials ranging from electronics to the field of sensors and actuators, to the conversion of energy in its various kinds, to the storage of data and energy.
Suggested prerequisites: Physics 1 (mechanics and thermodynamics), Chemistry, Physics 2 (electromagnetism and optics), Analytical Mechanics and Statistics and Physics 3 (transition from classical physics to quantum mechanics).
Course contents summary
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 defects 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, dielectric, electromagnetic, optical, (electric) conduction, magnetic and thermal properties are treated. Among the possible examples of classes of functional materials discussed in these lectures, one may cite ferroelectrics, piezoelectrics, semiconductors, superconductors, ferromagnets, ferroelastics, photoconductors and shape-memory materials.
In the last part of the course, some cases are presented as examples of multi-functional materials with interesting application perspectives, which are currently the subject of research in the field of Physics of Materials. Among the possible examples treated, one can cite the multiferroic systems and the materials for spintronics.
Teacher’s lecture notes
W. Smith, J. Hashemi, Scienza e tecnologia dei materiali, 4ed, McGraw-Hill Education, Milano 2012; ISBN-13: 978-88-386-6765-7
D. D. L. Chung, Functional materials, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore 2010; ISBN-10: 981-4287-16-4
H. Fredriksson and U. Åkerlind, Physics of Functional Materials, J. Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, England 2008; ISBN-13: 978-0-470-51757-4
Frontal lesson with help of audio-visual multimedial instruments. The slides of the lectures will be available on the CampusNet course web pages.
Assessment methods and criteria
The acquired knowledge and the understanding of the covered concepts are verified by an oral exam. The oral exam consist of the discussion and deepening of arguments chosen in the whole program of the course.
Office hours: upon appointment