Photo taken by Stuart Robinson 2005
Copyright: Sharon Ann Holgate

When you look at a solid object like this crystal, what do you see?

For years I've been fascinated by what lies beneath the surface of solids, so it's not surprising that my favourite subject at college was materials technology, and that I became engrossed in solid state physics at university. This interest led me to write an undergraduate textbook on the physics of solids called "Understanding Solid State Physics" which was published by Taylor & Francis in December 2009.

My aim is to make the subject as easy to understand as possible - not only for physics students, but also for students and researchers in other subjects such as materials science, electrical engineering and chemistry. To help achieve this, I have written in a similar style to that of a popular science book, and included several fully-worked example questions/problems in each chapter - many of which allow readers to test their knowledge as they go along. (If you'd like to test your knowledge of solid state physics right now, please click here to have a go at my online video quiz.) I am also highlighting recent research throughout, and emphasising the real-world applications of the topics being discussed. (Please page down for the list of contents.) 

If you would like to place an order for this book (ISBN 0750309725) please click here. This link will take you to the relevant part of the Taylor & Francis website. (Please see the Taylor & Francis website for further details on shipping etc.) Additional information on the book, as well as supplementary material including further reading and interesting web links for readers can also be found on the Taylor and Francis webpage. Meanwhile a promotional online video can be viewed by clicking here.

Understanding SolidState Physics
Book cover image © Taylor and Francis. Reproduced with permission
"With qualitative discussions, explanations of the science and how it relates to the everyday world around us, this promises to be an important work for students and general readers."
Dr John Navas, Senior Editor, Physics, Taylor & Francis.
The picture on the right was taken during the UK launch celebration in London on 25th February 2010. From left to right seated behind me: Philip Diamond, Wendy Wilson, Nell Taylor, Tracey de Whalley, Bill Buckley, John Barrow UK launch celebration in London on 25th February 2010. From left to right seated behind me: Philip Diamond, Wendy Wilson, Nell Taylor, Tracey de Whalley, Bill Buckley, John Barrow.

Photo taken by Chris Edwards
(Click to enlarge)


"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

"I was indeed amused and inspired by the wonderful images throughout the book, carefully selected by the author. These images and corresponding contexts, together with the thoughtful considerations of the difficulties of the freshmen to solid state physics like me, who may find it hard to follow the maths in the classics like Kittel's or Mermin's fulfils very well the goal of the author."
Yang Gan, Harbin Institute of Technology, P.R. China, UK Physical Sciences Centre Reviews, July 2010.

"5 stars for each category - Academic Content, Usefulness to Student, Usefulness to Teacher, Meets Objectives, and Accuracy."
Summary Review from UK Physical Sciences Centre Reviews, July 2010.

"Holgate...presents a textbook for an introductory undergraduate course in physics that explains the underlying physical and mathematical principles that most such textbooks, perhaps unwittingly, assume the students already know. She also relates the theories and concepts to the real world, to demonstrate how learning a bit of physics can help people get by in life outside school."
Annotation © 2010 Book News Inc., Portland, OR.

List of Contents:


2 CRYSTAL CLEAR - Bonding and Crystal Structures
2.1 Bonding in solids 
2.2 Crystalline Solids

3 THE REJECTION OF PERFECTION - Defects, Amorphous Materials and Polymers
3.1 Defects          
3.2 Amorphous materials                                       
3.3 Polymers

4 STRESSED OUT - The Mechanical Properties of Solids
4.1 Introduction to mechanical properties of solids  
4.2 The right material for the job 

5 IN, OUT, SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT - Diffraction, Phonons and Thermal Properties of Solids
5.1 Diffraction       
5.2 Lattice vibrations and phonons     
5.3 Thermal properties 

6 UNABLE TO RESIST - Metals, Semiconductors and Superconductors
6.1 Free electron models of electrical conduction    
6.2 Energy band formation      
6.3 Simple band theory
6.4 Elemental and compound semiconductors 
6.5 Superconductivity 

7 CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING - Semiconductor Devices and Dielectrics
7.1 Introduction to Semiconductor Devices       
7.2 Optoelectronic devices      
7.3 Device manufacture      
7.4 Dielectrics 

8 LIVING IN A MAGNETIC WORLD - Magnetism and its Applications
8.1 Introduction to magnetism     
8.2 Types of magnetism      
8.3 Technological applications of magnets and magnetism

APPENDIX A - Some Useful Maths    
A1 Vectors
          A2 Cartesian coordinates
          A3 Derivation of selected equations
APPENDIX B - Vibrations and Waves
B1 Properties of waves
          B2 Wave behaviour 
APPENDIX C - Revision of Atomic Physics     
C1 Atomic structure and properties
          C2 Electron shell notation
          C3 The Periodic Table
APPENDIX D - Revision of Quantum Mechanics     
D1 Fundamental ideas of quantum theory
          D2 Quantum behaviour of particles
APPENDIX E - Revision of Statistical Mechanics    
E1 Use of statistics in solid state physics
          E2 Probability
          E3 Classical statistical mechanics
          E4 Quantum statistics
APPENDIX F - Glossary of terms


Text copyright: Sharon Ann Holgate

All images in contents list (except the first):www.freeimages.co.uk
Crystal image from photo taken by Stuart Robinson, copyright: Sharon Ann Holgate

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