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Degrees of freedom for a metal crystal

  1. Mar 31, 2012 #1
    Recently did an exercise calculating the theoretic heat capacity of a metal. In the solutions manual they put the degrees of freedom f=6. Why is that? I know that a rigid body has 6 degrees of freedom but does that apply to each atom in the crystal?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2012 #2

    ehild

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    The atoms of the crystal are free to vibrate around their equilibrium points instead of translation. 3 vibration modes belong to each atom.
    A vibration mode has two degrees of freedom, (position and velocity): the atoms have both kinetic and potential energy. So the degrees of freedom is 6 for each atom.

    ehild
     
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