PH 495/595, Materials Physics: Structure and physical Properties of ordered and disordered Condensed Matter


Last updated: November 20, 2018


Neuberger Hall, room 388, Mo/We 12:00 to 13:50 pm


Lecturer: Peter Moeck, Dr. rer. nat. (Crystallography), PhD

Professor of Physics

Office Hours: Tuesday and Thursday 12:00-12:30 pm and by appointment

Office Location: SRTC, room 404, pmoeck at

Tel. 503 725 4227, but I do prefer to communicate with my students per e-mail or in person


Access and Inclusion for Students with Disabilities PSU values diversity and inclusion; we are committed to fostering mutual respect and full participation for all students. My goal is to create a learning environment that is equitable, useable, inclusive, and welcoming. If any aspects of instruction or course design result in barriers to your inclusion or learning, please notify me. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides reasonable accommodations for students who encounter barriers in the learning environment. If you have, or think you may have, a disability that may affect your work in this class and feel you need accommodations, contact the Disability Resource Center to schedule an appointment and initiate a conversation about reasonable accommodations. The DRC is located in 116 Smith Memorial Student Union, 503-725-4150,,

If you already have accommodations, please contact me to make sure that I have received a faculty notification letter and discuss your accommodations. Students who need accommodations for tests and quizzes are expected to schedule their tests to overlap with the time the class is taking the test.

Title IX Reporting Obligations As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment for my students and for the campus as a whole. Please be aware that as a faculty member, I have the responsibility to report any instances of sexual harassment, sexual violence and/or other forms of prohibited discrimination. If you would rather share information about sexual harassment, sexual violence or discrimination to a confidential employee who does not have this reporting responsibility, you can find a list of those individuals or contact a confidential advocate at 503-725-5672. For more information about Title IX please complete the required student module Creating a Safe Campus in your D2L.          


Course description and syllabus, liable to change as some function of the student interests in the course.


This course provides a thorough introduction to the very wide and diverse field of Materials Physics. Modern geometric-structural crystallography is at the core of this field because it allows for the derivation of the physical properties of condensed matter.

Point and space symmetries of crystals are first introduced in 2D and applied to data types that are used in electron crystallography. Fourier analyses and syntheses (as well as reciprocal space) are also first introduced in 2D and then generalized up to six spatial dimensions with special emphasis of the 3D case. This is followed by the discussion of point and space symmetries in 3D and a brief discussion of their utility in single crystal X-ray crystallography and discrete electron tomography.

The laboratory component of this course is concerned with quantitative powder X-ray diffraction. All student will receive a different powder mixture of some unknown crystal phases (but qualitatively know element content) and need to quantify its phase content by a Rietveld analysis. (A fee of $75 per student needs to be charged for this part of the course as the source of the X-rays wears down over time and needs to be replaced after a couple of years at a cost of about $3k.)

A few structural prototypes are covered and their Bärnighausen trees derived on the basis of the International Tables for Crystallography Vols. A and A1.

Neumann's and Curie's symmetry principles provide the bridge from crystal structures to the physical properties of materials. Tensors will be utilized as most effective mathematical representation of the anisotropy of physics properties. Crystal defects, pseudo-symmetry, textures, modulated structures, and quasicrystals are also discussed.

Following developments of the last two decades, crystallographic symmetries are treated as continuous features in order to gain deeper insight into structure property relationships.



Physics 211 - 213, 221 - 223, 311, 312, 314 - 316, 322, 431/531, 432/532, 434/534 and their prerequisites; Mathematics 251–253: Calculus I-III, 256: Differential equations and multivariate calculus, 261: Linear Algebra and their prerequisites


Course objectives - Provide the basis for a firm understanding on how atomic arrangements and chemical bond types determine the physical properties of condensed matter. Go way beyond classical geometric structural crystallography by including crystal defects, textures, pseudo-symmetry, symmetries as continuous features, modulated structures, and quasicrystals. Teach students how to perform quantitative powder X-ray diffractometry.


Student learning outcomes   (1) Students will gain a firm understanding on how atomic arrangements and chemical bond types determine the physical properties of condensed matter. (2) Students will also get to know core concepts of modern geometric structural crystallography and will be able to apply them correctly; (3) Students will be able to perform quantitative powder X-ray diffractometry hands on.


Outline of course content –


Week 1 – Causes and manifestations of crystalline order, types of chemical bonds and derived

                 properties, a few structural prototypes for different types of materials

Week 2 – Bravais lattices, metric tensor, coordinate transformations, crystallographic calculations

Week 3 – point and space group symmetries in 2D and 3D including sub-periodic layer and rod groups

                 as well as color symmetries,

Week 4 – International Tables of Crystallography, open access crystallographic databases,

                 Bärnighausen trees of a few structural prototypes

Week 5 – kinematic diffraction and imaging theory - Fourier transforms & reciprocal space,

                 crystallographic image processing, electron diffraction patterns, structure factors as properties

                 of crystals

Week 6 – Quantitative powder X-ray diffraction: diffraction theory (Fourier transforms) and praxis,

                  Rietveld refinement and crystallographic databases

Week 7 – Neumann's and Curie's symmetry principles, Symmetries as continuous features

Week 8 – Tensors: capturing the essence of anisotropy of physical properties, the open access Materials

                 Property Database

Week 9 – Crystal defects, periodic grain boundaries, textures, and modulated structures (long range

                 order in the 4th and 5th spatial dimension)

Week 10 – Quasicrystals and general grain boundaries (long range order in the 6th spatial dimension)


Course requirements and method of evaluation –

            Attendance                                         10%

            Homeworks and Assignments            30%  

            take home exams                                 60%  


there will be different homeworks, assignments, and take home exams for undergraduates and graduate students.


The method of evaluation is the same for both undergraduate and graduate students, but the quality and quantity of the homeworks, assignments, and take home exams differ significantly. Graduate students have to demonstrate their understanding of the course material at a significantly deeper level than undergraduate students. More specifically, graduate students have to demonstrate that they are able to apply the course material creatively, i.e. are capable of doing their own research.


Out of 100% of totally achievable points, students will receive a letter grade or P/NP based upon a curve where the minimum grades will be:


            A:        96-100%

            A-:       91-95%

            B+:      86-90%

            B:        81-85%

            B-:       76-80%

            C+:      71-75%

            C:        66-70%

            C-:       61-65%

            D+:      56-60%

            D:        51-55%

            D-:       46-50%

            F:         < 46%                   


Passing will be for points over 50%


suggested reading list, bits and pieces from these books will become part of the power point slides for the course, there is no single textbook that contains all of the context above at the right level and coverage


R. E. Newnham, properties of materials, anisotropy, symmetry, structure, Oxford University Press. 2005, (paperback, about $ 60)


M. De Graef, M. E. McHenry, Structure of Materials, An introduction to crystallography, diffraction and symmetry, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2012


D. R. Lovett, Tensor Properties of Crystals, IoP Publishing 1999


E. Zolotoyabko, Basic Concepts of Crystallography, Wiley-VCH, paperback


R. Glaser, Symmetry, Spectroscopy, and Crystallography: The Structural Nexus, Wiley-VHC, 2015 (free download of first chapter:


M. M. Julian, Foundations of Crystallography with Computer Applications, CRC press, 2008


P. G. Radaelli, Symmetry in Crystallography, Understanding the International Tables, IUCr texts on Crystallography 17, Oxford, 2011


S. M. Allen, E. L. Thomas, The structure of materials, Wiley 1998


K. Hermann, Crystallography and Surface Structure, Wiley-VHC, 2011


D. Schwarzenbach, Crystallography, Wiley and Sons, 1993


L. S. D. Glaser, Crystallography and its applications, van Nostrand, Reinhold Company Limited, 1977


K.-W. Benz and W. Neumann, Introduction to Crystal Growth and Characterization, Wiley-VHC, 2014, paperback


U. Müller, Symmetry Relations between Crystal Structures, IUCr Texts on Crystallography 18, Oxford, 2013


Y. Waseda, E. Matsubara, K. Shinoda, X-ray diffraction crystallography, Introduction, Examples and Solved Problems, Springer, 2011


X. Zou, S. Hovmoeller, P. Oleynikov, Electron Crystallography, Electron Microscopy and Electron Diffraction, Oxford University Press, IUCr Texts on Crystallography 16, 2011


Finally, my general teaching philosophy: “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry