2nd Edition

Understanding Solid State Physics

By Sharon Ann Holgate Copyright 2021
    392 Pages 272 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    392 Pages 272 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Keeping the mathematics to a minimum yet losing none of the required rigor, Understanding Solid State Physics, Second Edition clearly explains basic physics principles to provide a firm grounding in the subject. This new edition has been fully updated throughout, with recent developments and literature in the field, including graphene and the use of quasicrystalline materials, in addition to featuring new journalistic boxes and the reciprocal lattice.

    The author underscores the technological applications of the physics discussed and emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of scientific research. After introducing students to solid state physics, the text examines the various ways in which atoms bond together to form crystalline and amorphous solids. It also describes the measurement of mechanical properties and the means by which the mechanical properties of solids can be altered or supplemented for particular applications. The author discusses how electromagnetic radiation interacts with the periodic array of atoms that make up a crystal and how solids react to heat on both atomic and macroscopic scales. She then focuses on conductors, insulators, semiconductors, and superconductors, including some basic semiconductor devices. The final chapter addresses the magnetic properties of solids as well as applications of magnets and magnetism.

    This accessible textbook provides a useful introduction to solid state physics for undergraduates who feel daunted by a highly mathematical approach. By relating the theories and concepts to practical applications, it shows how physics is used in the real world.

    Key features:

    • Fully updated throughout, with new journalistic boxes and recent applications
    • Uses an accessible writing style and format, offering journalistic accounts of interesting research, worked examples, self-test questions, and a helpful glossary of frequently used terms
    • Highlights various technological applications of physics, from locomotive lights to medical scanners to USB flash drives


    A Solutions Manual is available for qualifying course adoptions and can be requested under the Support Material tab. There is also a dedicated Companion Website available with further student and instructor resources.

    Chapter 1. Introduction

    Chapter 2. Crystal Clear: Bonding and Crystal Structures

    Chapter 3. The Rejection of Perfection: Defects, Amorphous Materials, and Polymers

    Chapter 4. The Right Stuff: Choosing the Best Material for the Job

    Chapter 5. In, Out, Shake It All About: Diffraction, Phonons, and Thermal Properties of Solids

    Chapter 6. Unable to Resist: Metals, Semiconductors, and Superconductors

    Chapter 7. Chips with Everything: Semiconductor Devices and Dielectrics

    Chapter 8. Living in a Magnetic World: Magnetism and Its Applications.


    Sharon Ann Holgate is a freelance science writer and broadcaster. She has presented on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, and presented video podcasts for medical research charity the Myrovlytis Trust. She earned a D.Phil in physics from the University of Sussex, where she was a Visiting Fellow in Physics and Astronomy for nine years. Her articles have appeared in Science, Science Careers, New Scientist, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Flipside, E&T, Focus, Physics World, Interactions, Materials World, Modern Astronomer, and Astronomy Now. She was also shortlisted for the radio programme category of the Association of British Science Writers' Awards in 2005, and for the Aventis Prizes for Science Books Junior Prize in 2003. Dr. Holgate has been a recipient of the Institute of Physics Young Professional Physicist of the Year and of a Merit Award in the Daily Telegraph Young Science Writer of the Year competition.

    Praise for the First Edition

    "The book is written in a very user-friendly and engaging style, as one might expect from a science writer/journalist. This way, the author succeeds in making the material approachable and interesting. The presentation is not as formal as most treatments. The emphasis is less on the theoretical and mathematical basis of the subject and more on the intuitive understanding of ideas and concepts, but the approach is fresh and the explanations are clear. What I like most of all is that it brings solid-state physics up-to-date, introducing modern topics and showing how the core ideas in condensed matter physics underpin so much of the technology we use today."
    Professor Andrew Boothroyd, Oxford University, UK