Condensed Matter Experiments

Course content

This course provides an introduction to selected techniques used in experimental condensed matter physics, with a focus on low-temperature physics, cryogenic techniques, and electron transport phenomena at low temperatures. The intention is to prepare the student for graduate level course work and experimental research in the fields of low-temperature solid state physics, quantum transport, and the characterization of semiconducting and superconducting quantum devices. The students will learn key concepts that are essential in these fields and, more generally, have advanced our understanding of the interplay between properties of materials on the mesoscopic scale and the quantum engineering of advanced functional electronic devices.

Topics: Quantum and cryoliguids. Thermal properties of matter at low temperatures. Cooling methods, and heat transfer at cryogenic temperatures. Operating principles of a modern cryostat (3He/4He dilution refrigerator). Basic concepts of current and heat flow at low temperatures, and resistance of metals and semiconductors. Brief introduction to the fabrication of crystals, heterostructures, and nanostructures. Methods of measuring accurately electrical properties of a quantum device, with a selection from the following: Field-effect in semiconducting structures, basic transport properties of devices made from superconducting materials. Conductance quantization in quasi-2D electron gases. Coulomb blockade in metallic single-electron transistors, quantum dots, and artificial atoms.

The course will be a combination of reading assignments (incl. videos), discussions in class, and laboratory teamwork. The student is expected to actively take part in all activities, and gain a background for pursuing experimental work in local groups dedicated to the physics of low-temperatures and solid-state quantum devices.


MSc Programme in Physics

MSc Programme in Physics with a minor subject

Learning outcome


After the course the student is expected to have the following skills:

  • Describe the properties of gaseous and liquid helium and nitrogen, and differentiate between 3He and 4He at low temperatures.
  • Identify the main components of a cryostat, and explain physical properties of solids that are relevant for the conduction and isolation of heat.
  • Explain the temperature dependence of electron-phonon coupling, and its implications for achieving low electron temperatures in quantum devices.
  • Explain resistivity, resistance, conductivity, conductance.
  • Explain the concept of a semiconducting heterostructure, and the role of doping.
  • Explain concepts of measurement techniques, including some examples of high-frequency techniques (radio-frequency reflectometry, or similar).
  • Work in small teams and efficiently perform an experiment, analyze the data and find a convincing interpretation. Communicate the results in a written document that places the findings into the context of what was known or expected before the experiment, and how they inform other experiments or raise important questions. Alternatively, students will work in small groups to develop new laboratory experiments (with assistance from dedicated TAs).



After the course the student will be familiar with physical concepts that address the behavior of solids at low temperature, the flow of heat and electrical carriers, and the role of material boundaries and dimensionality. The student will understand how theoretical concepts connect to experimental methods used in the daily life of experimental groups dedicated to solid state quantum devices.



This course will provide the students with a background for further studies specializing in the physics and applications of low-temperature techniques and solid-state quantum devices. The students will gain insight into the real-life execution of scientific experiments and the teamwork and software tools necessary to analyze and report results, in preparation for pursuing for example an experimental M.Sc. or PhD project.

Independent study of selected scientific articles and/or videos, in-class discussions, laboratory group work leading to data analysis and report writing .

Literature will be announced in Absalon.

Familiarity with quantum mechanics, condensed matter physics, statistical physics. Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended. Basic knowledge in superconductivity is useful.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 minutes
Type of assessment details
Without preparation time
Exam registration requirements

Completion of all oral/written lab activities.

Only certain aids allowed

Small “cheat sheet” as discussed in class

Marking scale
passed/not passed
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

Same as regular exam. A student who has not qualified for the exam by participation in the required activities must follow the course again.

Criteria for exam assessment

See learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 149,5
  • Exercises
  • 28
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • English
  • 206,0


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience
Contracting department
  • The Niels Bohr Institute
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Ferdinand Kuemmeth   (8-707a6a72726a796d4573676e33707a336970)
Saved on the 28-02-2023

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