**Condensed Matter Physics Masters Defense Topics**

**Introduction:** The following list of topical areas and subtopics covers the broad field of condensed
matter physics. This is a very broad research area and examinees are not expected to be deeply
conversant with all topics. Typically they should be barely conversant with topics well removed from
their research area(s), and fairly knowledgeable about all subtopics of close relevance to this area. The
adviser and examinee may, after consultation, alter this list.

**Fundamentals**

**Length, energy, and time scales:** Interatomic spacings in solids, elastic and inelastic mean free paths for electrons, phonon energy scales, typical band widths and band gaps, vibrational time scales, electronic time scales, plasma frequency. Unit conversions (eV, K, T, cm^{-1})

**Electricity and magnetism:** Basic E&M of light, polarization, standing and traveling waves, density of
states, blackbody radiation, 2nd quantization, what is a gauge

**Basic quantum mechanics:** Bohr atom, one electron atom (Lande g factor); hyperfine structure, ,
multi-electron atoms (Hund's rules), harmonic oscillator, Aharonov-Bohm phase, particle-in-a-box,
perturbation theory, time-dependent perturbation theory, Fermi’s golden rule, Landau levels, Zeeman
effect, Born-Oppenheimer approximation, WKB approximation, sudden vs. adiabatic approximations

**Statistical mechanics**: Boltzmann factor, partition functions, Maxwell distribution, Fermi gas, Bose
gas, density of states, degeneracy, kinetic concepts, chemical potential, diffusion, Debye model, heat
capacity, first and second order phase transitions, Landau-Ginsburg theory of phase transitions

**Solid state physics: **

Tight binding, nearly-free electron picture, band structure, reciprocal space, diffraction, Bloch states, crystal momentum, acoustic vs. optical phonons, semiconductors, quasiparticles, holes, Fermi velocity, effective mass, valley degeneracy, p-n junctions, depletion widths, screening, plasma frequency

Magnetism: Exchange energy, Pauli paramagnetism, Landau diamagnetism, types of magnetic order, Curie and Curie-Weiss laws, local vs. itinerant magnetism, Stoner criterion, Bohr-Van Leeuwen theorem

Thermodynamic and transport properties: heat capacity, resistivity (different contributions in metals, semiconductors etc.), Wiedemann-Franz Law, Nernst effect

Dielectric and optical properties: Kramers-Kronig relations, piezoelectricity, Claussius-Mossotti relation, selection rules, lasers

Superconductivity: Meissner effect, Cooper pairs, penetration depth, coherence length, Type I vs. Type II, Josephson effect, flux quantization, superconducting quantum interference devices

**Nanoscale physics**: Coulomb blockade, conductance quantization, 2d electron systems, Landau
quantization, integer quantum Hall effect, fractional quantum Hall effect, weak localization, universal
conductance fluctuations, Aharonov-Bohm effect, tunneling density of states, van der Waals/Casimir
forces, radiation pressure

**Miscellaneous**: Landau-Zener crossing, crystal structures (space groups, point group symmetry)

**Experimental emphasis**

**Characterization techniques** (how they work & what they tell us): x-ray diffraction, electron
diffraction, neutron diffraction, photoemission, ARPES, Mossbauer, heat capacity, thermal conductivity,
resistivity, Hall coefficient, magnetic susceptibility, muSR

**Electronic methods**: two-terminal vs. four-terminal measurements, lock-in techniques, van der Pauw
technique, Hall resistance, shot noise, Johnson-Nyquist noise, 1/f noise

**Magnetic methods**: NMR, EPR, FMR, magnetization, magnetoresistance

**Nanoscale methods**: STM, AFM, MFM, EFM, Kelvin probe

**Low-temperature methods**: accessible temperatures for 4He, 3He, and dilution refrigerators;
principles of operation; superconducting magnets

**Data analysis**: error analysis, confidence intervals, chi^2, lineshapes – Gaussians, Lorentzians

**Theoretical emphasis**

**Basic Theory Models:** Ising Model, Heisenberg model, Hubbard model, t-J model, Kondo/Anderson
(single-impurity/lattice) models, luttinger liquid, Sine-Gordon model, non-linear sigma model, valencebond
models, spin-ice models

**Many-body formalism:** Landau theory of Fermi liquids, Second quantization, Static-mean-field
approaches, Green functions and Feynman diagrams (zero temperature, Matsubara, Keldysh),
hydrodynamic approach (memory functional), Diagram resumations, functional integrals, large-N/S
expansions (slave particles, Schwinger bosons, Holstein-Primakov bosons, etc.), Hubbard-Stratonovich
decoupling, 1-d methods (bosonization, conformal symmetry, integrability), renormalization group
theory (bosons, fermions), quantum phase transitions (Hertz theory), (high/low-T) series expansions,
solitons and instantons

**Computational methods:** exact diagonalization, Lanczos, (quantum) Monte Carlo, numerical/densitymatrix
renormalization group, dynamical mean field theory (LISA, DCA, etc.), ab-initio and density
functional methods (Thomas Fermi, LDA, LSD, pseudopotentials), molecular dynamics

**Disordered Systems:** weak/strong(Anderson) localization, replica theory, supersymmetric methods, time-loop methods, random matrix theory.

**Optical effects emphasis**

**Plasmonics:** Localized Surface Plasmon, Surface Plasmon-Polariton, Plasmon Hybridization, Quantum Plasmonics, Nonlocal screening, Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering, Surface Enhanced InfraredAbsorption, LSPR sensing, Dark-field scattering spectroscopy, Cathodoluminescence, EELS, Plasmonic Fano resonances, Chirality

**Electromagnetics:** Purcell effect, superradiance, subradiance

**Photonics:** Photonic bandgap, Photonic crystals, Metamaterials

**Excitonics:** Exciton, Quantum Dots, Quantum Confinement effect, Luminescence

**Computational:** Finite Difference Time-Domain method, Finite Element Method, Mie theory, Discrete Dipole Approximation