Selected chapters from physics of matter

Educational Physics, Second Cycle
1 in 2 year
Hours per week – 1. semester:

Enrollment into the program.
Successfully completed first cycle academic study of physics or equivalent study.

Content (Syllabus outline)

Crystals. Inter-atomic and inter-molecular forces, binding energy- Ionic crystals, Madelung constant. Metallic bound.
Metals. Free electron Fermi gas; heat capacity of electron gas; electric conductivity and Ohm’s law.
Energy bands. Nearly free electron model, origin of energy gap, Bloch functions.
Semiconductors. Energy gap. Equations of motions, holes, effective mass. Own conductivity, donor and acceptor dopants. Semiconductor devices: pn junction, transistor, LED.
Dielectrics and ferroelectrics. Electric field in materials. Dielectric constant and polarizability. Ferroelectrics. Piezoelectrics. Thermoelectric effect: Seebeck effect, thermocouple; Peltier effect; Thomson effect.
Magnetic properties of materials. Diamagnetism; atomic and Pauli paramagnetism. Ferromagnetism: ferromagnetic order, Curie point, exchange integral. Ising model. Antiferomagnetism.
Superconductivity. Properties of superconductors: electric and heat conductivity, Meissner effect. Thermodynamics of superconductors, London equation, BCS theory. High-temperature superconductors.
Nanophysics. Nanostructures. Electronic structure of quantum wires and quantum dots; transport. Heat properties of nanostructures.
Liquid crystals. Phenomenology: liquid crystal ordering, liquid crystalline phases. Elastic energy and statistical mechanics of liquid crystals.
Polymers. Phenomenology of threaded molecules; elastic energy and statistical mechanics of polymers. Entropic elasticity. Polymers in solutions.
Colloids and gels. Characteristics of colloids, classification. Colloidal interactions and colloidal stability. Physics of gels.
DNA. Description of basic properties of DNA, double helix. Elastic energy and DNA persistence length. Cromatin and virus organisation.
Membranes. Properties of phospholipids and hydrophobic effect, self-organisation of phospholipid molecules. Structure of lipid double-layer and biological memberanes. DLVO theory.
Proteins. Nature and structure of proteins. Amino-acids and their properties. Osmotic pressure of emulsions, van’t Hoff law and macro-molecular interactions. Principles of protein self-organisation and self-assembly.
Water. Molecular structure of water: ordered and disordered phases of water, ice. Proton conductivity of ice. Faraday layer and slippage of ice. Snow-flakes and clouds. Water instabilities. Hydrophobic effect and self-assembly of macromolecules in water.


M.P. Marder, Condensed matter physics, (Wiley, New York 2000)
C. Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics (Wiley, New York, 2004).
N. W. Ashcroft in N. D. Mermin, Solid State Physics (Saunders College, Philadelphia, 1976).
M. Kleman and O.D. Lavrentovich, Soft matter physics: an introduction, (Springer, New York, 2003)
P. Chaikin in T. C. Lubensky, Principles of condensed matter physics (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000).
M. Kleman and O.D. Lavrentovich, Soft matter physics: an introduction, Springer
P. Nelson, Biological Physics (W. H. Freeman, New York, 2007).

Objectives and competences

To demonstrate key concepts, effects and methods of research of solid state and soft matter physics, with a balanced emphasis on technologically important systems, effects from daily life, and processes that represent physics basics of living matter.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding: Understanding of basic principles of solid state and soft matter physics and biophysics. Contact with fundamental concepts in research of materials and living matter.

Application: Students learn to use theoretical physics knowledge to explain more advanced effects, which emerge from structure of non-living and living matter from daily life.

Reflection: Students realise that many important properties of solid, soft and living matter can be explained with basic concepts from thermodynamics, statistical physics, elasto-mechanics, electromagnetic field and solid state physics.

Transferable skills: Students acquire physics basics of selected modern devices and structure of molecular biological systems, which establishes further insight into the role of physics in natural and technological sciences and expands their interdisciplinary horizon.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, exercises, seminars, and consultations


Written and oral exam; instead of the written exam can do tests from excersises .
Oral exam
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references

izr. prof. dr. Miha Ravnik:
1. M. Nikkhou, M. Škarabot, S. Čopar, M. Ravnik, S. Žumer and I. Muševič, Light-controlled topological charge in a nematic liquid crystal, Nature Phys. 11, 183 (2015)
2. J. Dontabhaktuni, M. Ravnik and S. Žumer, Quasicrystalline tilings with nematic colloidal platelets, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 2464 (2014)
3. A. Martinez, M. Ravnik, B. Lucero, R. Visvanathan, S. Žumer, and I.I. Smalyukh Mutually tangled colloidal knots and induced defect loops in nematic fields, Nature Mater. 13, 258–263 (2014)
4. M. Ravnik and J. M. Yeomans, Confined Active Nematic Flow in Cylindrical Capillaries, Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 026001 (2013)
5. A. Nych, U. Ognysta, M. Škarabot, M. Ravnik, S. Žumer, and I. Muševič, Assembly and control of 3D nematic dipolar colloidal crystals, Nature Comm. 4, 1489 (2013)