nl en

The Electronic Structure of Solids


Admission Requirements

Introduction to Solid State Physics
Working knowledge of Quantum Mechanics 1, Quantum Mechanics 2 Introduction to solid state Physics


Have you ever wondered why some materials are conductive and others are insulators? Or why some materials are magnetic, while others are superconducting? These fundamental questions can be answered by understanding the behavior of electrons in solids.

This course will provide an introduction to the behavior of electrons in solids and the resulting properties of materials. By studying electronic band structure, a simple but highly successful model, you will gain a deeper understanding of the behavior of electrons in periodic potentials.

The course will begin with an overview of quantized lattice vibrations (phonons) and their energy spectra (band structures). You will then learn about model Hamiltonians for periodic potentials in solids and how to calculate the energy spectra of electrons in a solid. You will also learn to qualitatively and quantitatively describe key properties of electrons in periodic potentials.

Throughout the course, you will apply these techniques to describe a range of materials, including metals, semiconductors, magnets, and superconductors. You will also learn how to connect these theories to real experimental data. This course is recommended for anyone interested in pursuing experimental or theoretical condensed matter physics. It serves as a first step towards electronic structure calculations of real solids, quantum many-body physics, and emergent quasiparticles.

Course objectives

This course aims to teach you how to describe electrons in solids using Hamiltonians and solve quantum mechanical problems. You will gain insight into how the properties of real solids originate from the behavior of electrons. By the end of the course, you will be able to describe key properties of electrons in periodic potentials. This course serves as a foundation for further study in electronic structure calculations of real solids, quantum many-body physics, and emergent quasiparticles.

After this course, you will be able to:

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

  • Compute the spectrum of electrons in model and simple crystalline solids and interpret the results with regards to macroscopic properties

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

  • Calculate and plot band structures for one-dimensional solids

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

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

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

  • Recognize the experimental techniques for detecting band structure and phonon modes

  • Describe the basic phenomenology of superconductors

Transferable skills

  • You will learn to combine books, web lectures, and the internet, in addition to the lectures and exercises effectively 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

See Brightspace. Lectures, tutorials, homework.

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. Proper participation in the problem sessions and handing in homework assignments can earn you a bonus of maximally 1 grade point on top of the exam grade.

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. Semonti Bhattacharyya