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Fundamentals of Materials Science

Semester 2


The course introduces students to fundamental physics governing the physical properties of materials in general.  It begins with atomic structure and bonding and then shows how these influence the structure (crystalline and amorphous) of solids.  It further explains the origin of the physical (i.e., electrical, thermal, and mechanical) properties of solids, and relates them to their structures and inter-atomic bonding.  The course makes use of tangible applications to help the students relate the content to their everyday interaction with materials.


Atomic Structure and Bonding:

  • Electrons in atoms;
  • types of bonding, melting point

Crystalline and Non-Crystalline (Amorphous) Structures: 

  • Lattice, sub-lattices and lattice parameters;
  • structures: metal, ceramic and covalent;
  • defects and dislocations


  • Diffusion mechanisms;
  • Steady-state diffusion (Fick’s 1st law);
  • Transient/non-steady state diffusion (Fick’s 2nd law), Arrhenius behavior

Electrical Properties:

  • Conductivity and mobility;
  • electronic and ionic conduction;
  • electron-phonon interaction in metals;
  • superconductivity, semiconductivity;
  • band theory

Thermal Properties:

  • Phonons, heat capacity and the Einstein solid;
  • thermal expansion and thermal conductivity

Mechanical Properties:

  • Stresses, strain, and shear;
  • elastic properties;
  • sound propagation;
  • deformation and hardness;
  • fracture, fatigue, and creep

The course assessment will be conducted as follows:

One graded assignment                          15%
Five graded tutorials (equally weighted)  15%
One 1-hour in-course test                       20%
Final Examination
One 2-hour final written examination        50%

Students will be expected to satisfy the examiners both components.


Learning Objectives: 


At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • describe the various types of atomic bonding, and explain how bonding affects the structure and physical properties of materials
  • calculate theoretical densities of  crystalline and amorphous structures, and classify the types of defects and dislocations
  • evaluate diffusion in solids via application of Fick’s laws
  • articulate the physical origins of electrical and thermal conductivity, and derive related expressions
  • articulate the physical origins of elastic moduli, and compare the physical concepts behind fracture toughness and creep
PHYS1411 and PHYS1412 and PHYS1421 and PHYS1422 and CHEM0901 and CHEM0902 OR Equivalent


  • Callister, W. D. and Rethwisch D. G. (2009), Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction, 8th Edition; John Wiley and Sons. ISBN-10: 0470419970; ISBN-13: 978-0470419977

Highly Recommended

  • Callister, W. D. and Rethwisch D. G. (2011), Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering: An Integrated Approach, 4th Edition; Wiley. ISBN-10: 1118061608; ISBN-13: 978-1118061602
  • Smith, W. and Hashemi J. (2009), Foundations of Materials Science and Engineering, 5th Edition; McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math. ISBN-10: 1118061608; ISBN-13: 978-0073529240

Online Resources:


Course Code: 
3 Credits
Level 2
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