Condensed Matter Physics 1 (CMP1)

Course content

This course is a modern introduction to the fascinating world of condensed matter physics.  We will build upon basic concepts from quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and statistical physics to develop an understanding of the properties of real materials and electronic devices. 

Some of the deep questions that we will address include: Why do some materials freely conduct electricity, while others are insulators?  Why do metals feel cold to the touch?  What holds the atoms together in a solid, and how do they arrange themselves? How does this arrangement affect the electronic and thermal properties of materials?  How can we control the properties of semiconductors, and use these capabilities to create the building blocks for classical and quantum electronic devices?

The course will be an interactive mix between lectures, discussions, and exercises.  Along the way we will apply the concepts that we learn to understand the properties of materials that are the subject of intense current interest for fundamental research and applications. Wherever possible we will make connections to ongoing research at NBI and in the field at large.


BSc Programme in Nanoscience
BSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome

It is expected from the student that he or she is able to:

  • Describe various types of binding.
  • Identify various crystal lattice structures, and to explain the concepts of reciprocal space and the Brillouin zone, along with their crucial roles in scattering and the thermal and electronic properties of solids.
  • Discuss the importance of lattice vibrations (phonons) for the heat capacities of solids.
  • Explain why electrons do not significantly contribute the specific heat of solids, but are responsible for the thermal conductivity of metals.
  • Describe the electrical properties of simple metals on the basis of the free electron gas model.
  • Derive models for the electronic band structure of solids and from the band structure be able to explain the differences between insulators, metals and semiconductors.
  • Describe the electronic properties of semiconductors and how these can be modified.
  • Describe how simple electronic components like transistors work


The student should understand and be able to describe the fundamental properties of solids. He/she should come away knowing why some materials are insulators, and others are conductors, and how to explain the properties of each in terms of the quantum mechanics of atomic and electronic motion in a system with a crystalline lattice.


The course will give the student the basic knowledge and tools that will enable him/her to understand and describe the fundamental properties of solids, and to continue to more advanced courses in the field.

Lectures and exercises. There are 6 hours of exercises with the TAs per week, but you are expected to work additional hours on the exercises at home.

Will be announced in Absalon

The student is expected to have passed courses on mathematics, quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and electromagnetism on the level covered in the corresponding Bachelors courses in Physics at KU. Basic mathematical proficiency and problem solving skills will be required.

Students who have not taken these courses or equivalents should contact the instructor before signing up for the course to clarify what background knowledge will be expected.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
Continuous assessment
The exam consists of two parts: required homework sets count for 25% of the final grade, while the four-hour written exam counts for 75% of the final grade.
The parts of the exam do not have to be passed individually.
All aids allowed

For the homework sets, student collaboration and discussion with course instructors is allowed and encouraged. After any collaboration, all solutions must be written up individually by each student, with all steps shown. For the written exam, no aids are allowed.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 112
  • Theory exercises
  • 48
  • Exam
  • 4
  • English
  • 206