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The Electronic Structure of Solids


Admission Requirements

Introduction to Solid State Physics


This course aims at describing the behavior of electrons in solids, as well as the resulting properties of solids. To this end, the electronic (band) stucture of solids is introduced, and calculated in simple models. The course can be seen as a first step towards electronic structure calculations of real solids, quantum many body physics, and emergent quasiparticles.

In this course you learn how electrons in solids can be described by simple but highly successful models. After a brief introduction about quantized lattice vibrations (phonons) and their energy spectra (band structures), we will start to work with and solve model Hamiltonians to describe electrons in the periodic potential in solids. You will be introduced to the concept of quasiparticles. You will learn to qualitatively and quantitatively descripe important properties of electrons in periodic potentials, and get quantities such as the energy spectra. Later, we will apply these techniques to describe metals, semiconductors, magnets, and superconductors.

The class is recommended especially if you want to pursue experimental or theoretical condensed matter physics.

Course objectives

The main objective is to be able to describe electrons in solids using (model) Hamiltonians and solve the corresponding quantummechanical eigenvalue problems. Another objective is to understand how the properties of real solids originate in the behavior of electrons.

After this course, you will be able to:

  • Derive and understand the spectrum of quantized lattice vibrations for model and simple crystalline solids

  • Derive and understand the spectrum of electrons in model and simple crystalline solids and interpret the result with regards to macroscopic properties

  • Explain the concept of a Brillouin zone, and explain why it is valuable to describe solids

  • Draw band structures for one-dimensional solids

  • Derive the band structure in simple one-dimensional chains both in the nearly free electron and tight binding model; explain the difference between these two models.

  • Name the key phenomenological properties of metals, insulators, and semiconductors and connect them to microscopic models

  • Name and explain models to describe the key properties of magnets

  • Describe the basic phenomenology and microscopic theory of superconductors

Transferable skills

You use books, weblectures, and the internet, in addition to the lectures and exercises to achieve the learning objectives.


For detailed information go to Timetable in Brightspace

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, tutorials (exercise and discussion sessions)

Course load

6EC; 13 weeks of 3 hours of lectures and/or problem/discussion sessions; question session and written exam: 2+3=5 hours; selfstudy (homework, studying textbook and other literature, viewing weblectures, working out problems, study for exam): 124 hours.

Assessment method

Written examination.

Reading list

For most of the course, we will follow the book “The Oxford Solid State Basics” by Steven H. Simon (Oxford University Press, 2016). The library has unlimited electronic copies.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contact Details Lecturer:Dr.Peter Denteneer