Condensed matter physics

Condensed matter physics

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Condensed matter physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

deals with the physical properties of condensed phases
Phase (matter)
In the physical sciences, a phase is a region of space , throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, index of refraction, and chemical composition...

 of matter
Matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

. These properties appear when a number of atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s at the supramolecular and macromolecular scale interact strongly and adhere to each other or are otherwise highly concentrated in a system. The most familiar examples of condensed phases are solids
Solid-state physics
Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the large-scale properties of solid materials result from...

 and liquid
Liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

s. Such every-day condensed phases arise from the electromagnetic
Electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

 forces between atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s. More exotic condensed phases include the mesophase
Mesophase
In physics, a mesophase is a state of matter intermediate between liquid and solid. Gelatin is a common example of a partially-ordered structure in a mesophase...

s of liquid crystal
Liquid crystal
Liquid crystals are a state of matter that have properties between those of a conventional liquid and those of a solid crystal. For instance, an LC may flow like a liquid, but its molecules may be oriented in a crystal-like way. There are many different types of LC phases, which can be...

 devices, the superconducting
Superconductivity
Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance occurring in certain materials below a characteristic temperature. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum...

 phase exhibited by certain materials at low temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

, the ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic phases of spins
Spin (physics)
In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...

 on atomic lattices, and the Bose-Einstein condensate found in certain ultracold
Ultracold atom
Ultracold atoms is a term used to describe atoms that are maintained at temperatures close to 0 kelvins , typically below some tenths of microkelvins , where their quantum-mechanical properties become important...

 atomic systems.

Condensed matter physics seeks to understand the behavior of these phases by using well-established physical laws. In particular, these include the laws of quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

, electromagnetism
Electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

 and statistical mechanics
Statistical mechanics
Statistical mechanics or statistical thermodynamicsThe terms statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics are used interchangeably...

. The diversity of systems and phenomena available for study makes condensed matter physics by far the largest field of contemporary physics. By one estimate, one third of all United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

s identify themselves as condensed matter physicists. The field has a large overlap with chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, materials science
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

, and nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

, and there are close connections with the related fields of atomic physics
Atomic physics
Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and...

 and biophysics
Biophysics
Biophysics is an interdisciplinary science that uses the methods of physical science to study biological systems. Studies included under the branches of biophysics span all levels of biological organization, from the molecular scale to whole organisms and ecosystems...

. Theoretical
Theoretical physics
Theoretical physics is a branch of physics which employs mathematical models and abstractions of physics to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena...

 condensed matter physics also shares many important concepts and techniques with theoretical particle
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

 and nuclear physics
Nuclear physics
Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies the building blocks and interactions of atomic nuclei. The most commonly known applications of nuclear physics are nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons technology, but the research has provided application in many fields, including those...

.

Historically, condensed matter physics grew out of solid-state physics
Solid-state physics
Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the large-scale properties of solid materials result from...

, now considered one of its main subfields. The name of the field was apparently coined in 1967 by Philip Anderson
Philip Warren Anderson
Philip Warren Anderson is an American physicist and Nobel laureate. Anderson has made contributions to the theories of localization, antiferromagnetism and high-temperature superconductivity.- Biography :...

 and Volker Heine
Volker Heine
Volker Heine FRS is a New Zealand-British physicist.He was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School and the University of Otago, then Clare College, Cambridge where he became a fellow and professor. He obtained his PhD in physics in Cambridge as student of Sir Nevill Mott.He was elected Fellow of...

 when they renamed their research group in the Cavendish Laboratory
Cavendish Laboratory
The Cavendish Laboratory is the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, and is part of the university's School of Physical Sciences. It was opened in 1874 as a teaching laboratory....

 of the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 from "Solid-State Theory" to "Theory of Condensed Matter". In 1978, the Division of Solid State Physics at the American Physical Society
American Physical Society
The American Physical Society is the world's second largest organization of physicists, behind the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. The Society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the world renowned Physical Review and Physical Review Letters, and organizes more than 20...

 was renamed as the Division of Condensed Matter Physics. One of the reasons for this change is that many of the concepts and techniques developed for studying solids can also be applied to fluid systems. For instance, the conduction electrons in an electrical conductor
Electrical conductor
In physics and electrical engineering, a conductor is a material which contains movable electric charges. In metallic conductors such as copper or aluminum, the movable charged particles are electrons...

 form a Fermi liquid
Fermi liquid
Fermi liquid theory is a theoretical model of interacting fermions that describes the normal state of most metals at sufficiently low temperatures. The interaction between the particles of the many-body system does not need to be small...

, with similar properties to conventional liquids made up of atoms or molecules. Even the phenomenon of superconductivity
Superconductivity
Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance occurring in certain materials below a characteristic temperature. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum...

, in which the quantum-mechanical properties of the electrons lead to collective behavior fundamentally different from that of a classical fluid, is closely related to the superfluid
Superfluid
Superfluidity is a state of matter in which the matter behaves like a fluid without viscosity and with extremely high thermal conductivity. The substance, which appears to be a normal liquid, will flow without friction past any surface, which allows it to continue to circulate over obstructions and...

 phase of liquid helium
Liquid helium
Helium exists in liquid form only at extremely low temperatures. The boiling point and critical point depend on the isotope of the helium; see the table below for values. The density of liquid helium-4 at its boiling point and 1 atmosphere is approximately 0.125 g/mL Helium-4 was first liquefied...

.

Topics in condensed matter physics

  • Phase
    Phase (matter)
    In the physical sciences, a phase is a region of space , throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, index of refraction, and chemical composition...

    s
    • Generic phases - gas
      Gas
      Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

       (* uncondensed); liquid
      Liquid
      Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

      ; solid
      Solid
      Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

    • Low temperature phases - Fermi gas
      Fermi gas
      A Fermi gas is an ensemble of a large number of fermions. Fermions, named after Enrico Fermi, are particles that obey Fermi–Dirac statistics. These statistics determine the energy distribution of fermions in a Fermi gas in thermal equilibrium, and is characterized by their number density,...

      ; Fermi liquid
      Fermi liquid
      Fermi liquid theory is a theoretical model of interacting fermions that describes the normal state of most metals at sufficiently low temperatures. The interaction between the particles of the many-body system does not need to be small...

      ; Fermionic condensate
      Fermionic condensate
      A fermionic condensate is a superfluid phase formed by fermionic particles at low temperatures. It is closely related to the Bose–Einstein condensate, a superfluid phase formed by bosonic atoms under similar conditions. Unlike the Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates are formed using...

      ; Luttinger liquid
      Luttinger liquid
      A Tomonaga-Luttinger liquid, more often referred to as simply a Luttinger liquid, is a theoretical model describing interacting electrons in a one-dimensional conductor...

      ; superfluid
      Superfluid
      Superfluidity is a state of matter in which the matter behaves like a fluid without viscosity and with extremely high thermal conductivity. The substance, which appears to be a normal liquid, will flow without friction past any surface, which allows it to continue to circulate over obstructions and...

      ; composite fermions
      Composite fermions
      A composite fermion is the bound state of an electron and an even number of quantized vortices, sometimes visually pictured as the bound state of an electron and, attached, an even number of magnetic flux quanta...

      ; supersolid
      Supersolid
      A supersolid is a spatially ordered material with superfluid properties. Superfluidity is a special quantum state of matter in which a substance flows with zero viscosity.-Background:...

    • Phase phenomena - order parameter; phase transition
      Phase transition
      A phase transition is the transformation of a thermodynamic system from one phase or state of matter to another.A phase of a thermodynamic system and the states of matter have uniform physical properties....

      ; cooling curve
      Cooling curve
      A cooling curve is a line graph that represents the change of phase of matter, typically from a gas to a solid or a liquid to a solid. The independent variable is time and the dependent variable is temperature...

  • Interfaces
    Interface (chemistry)
    An interface is a surface forming a common boundary among two different phases, such as an insoluble solid and a liquid, two immiscible liquids or a liquid and an insoluble gas. The importance of the interface depends on which type of system is being treated: the bigger the quotient area/volume,...

    • Surface tension
      Surface tension
      Surface tension is a property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force. It is revealed, for example, in floating of some objects on the surface of water, even though they are denser than water, and in the ability of some insects to run on the water surface...

    • Domain growth - nucleation
      Nucleation
      Nucleation is the extremely localized budding of a distinct thermodynamic phase. Some examples of phases that may form by way of nucleation in liquids are gaseous bubbles, crystals or glassy regions. Creation of liquid droplets in saturated vapor is also characterized by nucleation...

      ; spinodal decomposition
      Spinodal decomposition
      Spinodal decomposition is a mechanism by which a solution of two or more components can separate into distinct regions with distinctly different chemical compositions and physical properties...

    • Interfacial growth - dendritic growth; solidification fronts; viscous fingering
      Viscous fingering
      Viscous fingering is the formation of patterns in a morphologically unstable interface between two fluids in a porous medium or in a Hele-Shaw cell. It occurs when a less viscous fluid is injected displacing a more viscous one...

    • Kapitza resistance - liquid helium solid heat conductivity
  • crystalline solids
    • Types - insulator
      Electrical insulation
      thumb|250px|[[Coaxial Cable]] with dielectric insulator supporting a central coreThis article refers to electrical insulation. For insulation of heat, see Thermal insulation...

      ; metal
      Metal
      A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

      ; semiconductor
      Semiconductor
      A semiconductor is a material with electrical conductivity due to electron flow intermediate in magnitude between that of a conductor and an insulator. This means a conductivity roughly in the range of 103 to 10−8 siemens per centimeter...

      ; semimetal
    • Electronic properties - band gap
      Band gap
      In solid state physics, a band gap, also called an energy gap or bandgap, is an energy range in a solid where no electron states can exist. In graphs of the electronic band structure of solids, the band gap generally refers to the energy difference between the top of the valence band and the...

      ; Bloch wave
      Bloch wave
      A Bloch wave or Bloch state, named after Felix Bloch, is the wavefunction of a particle placed in a periodic potential...

      ; conduction band
      Conduction band
      In the solid-state physics field of semiconductors and insulators, the conduction band is the range of electron energies, higher than that of the valence band, sufficient to free an electron from binding with its individual atom and allow it to move freely within the atomic lattice of the material...

      ; effective mass (solid-state physics); electrical conduction; electron hole
      Electron hole
      An electron hole is the conceptual and mathematical opposite of an electron, useful in the study of physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering. The concept describes the lack of an electron at a position where one could exist in an atom or atomic lattice...

      ; valence band
      Valence band
      In solids, the valence band is the highest range of electron energies in which electrons are normally present at absolute zero temperature....

    • Electronic phenomena - Kondo effect
      Kondo effect
      In physics, the Kondo effect describes the scattering of conduction electrons in a metal due to magnetic impurities. It is a measure of how electrical resistivity changes with temperature....

      ; plasmon
      Plasmon
      In physics, a plasmon is a quantum of plasma oscillation. The plasmon is a quasiparticle resulting from the quantization of plasma oscillations just as photons and phonons are quantizations of light and mechanical vibrations, respectively...

      ; quantum Hall effect; superconductivity
      Superconductivity
      Superconductivity is a phenomenon of exactly zero electrical resistance occurring in certain materials below a characteristic temperature. It was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes on April 8, 1911 in Leiden. Like ferromagnetism and atomic spectral lines, superconductivity is a quantum...

      ; Wigner crystal
      Wigner crystal
      A Wigner crystal is the solid phase of electrons first predicted by Eugene Wigner in 1934. A gas of electrons moving in 2D or 3D in a uniform, inert, neutralizing background will crystallize and form a lattice if the electron density is less than a critical value...

      ; thermoelectricity
    • Lattice phenomena - antiferromagnet; ferroelectric effect; ferromagnet; magnon
      Magnon
      A magnon is a collective excitation of the electrons' spin structure in a crystal lattice. In contrast, a phonon is a collective excitation of the crystal lattice atoms or ions. In the equivalent wave picture of quantum mechanics, a magnon can be viewed as a quantized spin wave. As a...

      ; phonon
      Phonon
      In physics, a phonon is a collective excitation in a periodic, elastic arrangement of atoms or molecules in condensed matter, such as solids and some liquids...

      ; spin glass
      Spin glass
      A spin glass is a magnet with frustrated interactions, augmented by stochastic disorder, where usually ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic bonds are randomly distributed...

      ; topological defect
      Topological defect
      In mathematics and physics, a topological soliton or a topological defect is a solution of a system of partial differential equations or of a quantum field theory homotopically distinct from the vacuum solution; it can be proven to exist because the boundary conditions entail the existence of...

      ; multiferroics
      Multiferroics
      Multiferroics have been formally defined as materials that exhibit more than one primary ferroic order parameter simultaneously . The four basic primary ferroic order parameters are ferromagnetism, ferroelectricity, ferroelasticity and ferrotoroidicity, the latter still being under debate...

  • Non-crystalline solids
    • Types - amorphous solid
      Amorphous solid
      In condensed matter physics, an amorphous or non-crystalline solid is a solid that lacks the long-range order characteristic of a crystal....

      ; granular matter; quasicrystals
  • Soft condensed matter
    • Types - liquid crystal
      Liquid crystal
      Liquid crystals are a state of matter that have properties between those of a conventional liquid and those of a solid crystal. For instance, an LC may flow like a liquid, but its molecules may be oriented in a crystal-like way. There are many different types of LC phases, which can be...

      s; polymer
      Polymer
      A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

      s; complex fluids
      Non-Newtonian fluid
      A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid whose flow properties differ in any way from those of Newtonian fluids. Most commonly the viscosity of non-Newtonian fluids is not independent of shear rate or shear rate history...

      ; gel
      Gel
      A gel is a solid, jelly-like material that can have properties ranging from soft and weak to hard and tough. Gels are defined as a substantially dilute cross-linked system, which exhibits no flow when in the steady-state...

      s; foam
      Foam
      -Definition:A foam is a substance that is formed by trapping gas in a liquid or solid in a divided form, i.e. by forming gas regions inside liquid regions, leading to different kinds of dispersed media...

      s; emulsion
      Emulsion
      An emulsion is a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible . Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids. Although the terms colloid and emulsion are sometimes used interchangeably, emulsion is used when both the dispersed and the...

      s; colloid
      Colloid
      A colloid is a substance microscopically dispersed evenly throughout another substance.A colloidal system consists of two separate phases: a dispersed phase and a continuous phase . A colloidal system may be solid, liquid, or gaseous.Many familiar substances are colloids, as shown in the chart below...

      s
  • Nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology
    Nanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally, nanotechnology deals with developing materials, devices, or other structures possessing at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometres...

    • Nanoelectromechanical systems
      Nanoelectromechanical systems
      Nanoelectromechanical systems are devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale. NEMS form the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS devices...

        (NEMS)
    • Magnetic resonance force microscopy
      Magnetic Resonance Force Microscopy
      Magnetic resonance force microscopy is an imaging technique that acquires magnetic resonance images at nanometer scales, and possibly at atomic scales in the future. MRFM is potentially able to observe protein structures which cannot be seen using X-ray crystallography and protein nuclear...

    • Heat transport
      Heat transfer
      Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the exchange of thermal energy from one physical system to another. Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as heat conduction, convection, thermal radiation, and phase-change transfer...

       in nanoscale systems
    • Spin
      Spin (physics)
      In quantum mechanics and particle physics, spin is a fundamental characteristic property of elementary particles, composite particles , and atomic nuclei.It is worth noting that the intrinsic property of subatomic particles called spin and discussed in this article, is related in some small ways,...

       transport

See also


  • Soft matter
    Soft matter
    Soft matter is a subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical states that are easily deformed by thermal stresses or thermal fluctuations. They include liquids, colloids, polymers, foams, gels, granular materials, and a number of biological materials...

  • Quantum field theory
    Quantum field theory
    Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

  • Green–Kubo relations
  • Green's function (many-body theory)
    Green's function (many-body theory)
    In many-body theory, the term Green's function is sometimes used interchangeably with correlation function, but refers specifically to correlators of field operators or creation and annihilation operators....

  • Materials science
    Materials science
    Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

  • Molecular modeling software
  • Transparent materials