Physics of Material with Laboratory

course ID





14 Weeks

Semester DD


Course details

Introduction of the concepts of fabrication, structure, properties and performance of a material and their inter-correlation. Material cycle. The cohesion forces. Solid state, condensation of matter, crystals. Crystalline structures. Direct network. Glasses and various other aggregations of the condensed state. X-ray diffraction. The molecular structure of organic polymers. Imperfections in solids. Point defects, dislocations, grain boundaries. Optical and electronic microscopy. Diffusion. Mechanical properties of metals, glass and polymers: resistance; strain and deformations, deformation energy and inelastic effect. Dislocations and mechanisms to increase resistance. Breaking of materials.Alloys and phase diagrams. Phase transformations. Steels. Electrical, thermal and optical properties. Drude model: electrical conductivity, Hall effect, metal reflectivity. Magnetic properties. Experience of X-rays diffraction, mechanical properties of steel, aluminum, copper, polymers; sinterization; scanning electron microscope; fabrication and measurement of a commercial solar cell and one based on silicon and carbon nanotubes. Absorption of light; evaluation of electrical properties.


Co-teaching: Dott.ssa Bonanni Beatrice & Prof. Francini Roberto


There are four learning outcomes of the course.
The first educational objective is to make students understand the deep interconnection between fabrication, structure (atomic, microscopic and macroscopic), mechanical and physical-chemical properties and performance of a material. In this context, the close correlation between atomic, microscopic and macroscopic structure of a material and its responses to mechanical, physical or chemical input will be deepened.
A second, not least, educational objective of the course is to provide students with knowledge of some experimental methods of investigation aimed at highlighting the structure, the mechanical and chemical-physical properties of materials.
The third objective is to let students experience the relationship between fabrication, structure, properties and performance of materials through several laboratory experiences.
The fourth goal is to give students the first rudiments of writing a scientific article.

The course is aimed at students during the first semester of the third year and needs knowledge of the structure of atoms, periodic table, chemical bonds, classical physics studied the first and second year and some basics of quantum physics. Although the course is predominantly qualitative and experimental, an excellent knowledge of differential equations and the knowledge of the Hamiltonian concept and of the Schrodinger equation is required. In addition, laboratory-measured data analysis requires knowledge of the first rudiments of data processing theory and error theory that should have been studied in the course of "Esperimentazione Fisica 1". These prerequisites are important to help the student understand the topics of the course.

The first three objectives of the course are to give the student the tools to have a clear, albeit mostly only qualitative, view of the relationship between the manufacture, structure, properties and performance of a material. To make this vision clear, together with an initial introduction to the fabrication methods and survey tools of the structure, properties and performance of a material, are tools necessary to provide the student with the ability to understand the nature of a material and, in perspective, they intend to give the student the basis for the design and construction of new materials.

The course aims to make each student develop the ability to evaluate the properties and performance of a material in relation to its structure and fabrication methods, not underestimating the costs of implementation, the duration, the environmental impact and possible disposal.

The course consists of frontal theoretical lessons and laboratory experiences.
The teacher's intention is to stimulate curiosity and questions from students and induce them to develop their communication skills. The laboratory experiences are organized so that groups of 3-4 students will have to collaborate to make measurements, analyze data, write the report. The group work aims to encourage an exchange of ideas and will enable students to communicate with each other and propose different solutions to the various problems.
In addition, each experience must be described and commented on in a written report (in Italian or English) in a format similar to a scientific article. Students will be provided with the basic knowledge necessary to write a scientific paper and the reports will be corrected within a short time of delivery so that corrections can serve as a starting point to improve the next one. All this has the dual purpose of a) getting students to synthesize and explain, in scientific language, the series of observations and experimental data that they measured and elaborated and b) to lay the foundations for future scientific communication.

It is expected to improve the development of students' learning capacity by stimulating a very marked student-teacher interaction, both during face-to-face lessons and with laboratory experiences and the request to draw up reports on various experiences.