# Free electron gas band structure?

• I

## Main Question or Discussion Point

How can I see, by looking at a band structure if the substance in question can be viewed as a free electron gas (FEG) or not?

What characterizes a FEG in a bandstructure plot?

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ZapperZ
Staff Emeritus
How can I see, by looking at a band structure if the substance in question can be viewed as a free electron gas (FEG) or not?

What characterizes a FEG in a bandstructure plot?

I'm rather surprised that you asked this, considering what you wrote in this post:

If you have derived the dispersion relation for a free-electron gas, then what exactly is the issue here? Do you not know what
$$E(k) = \frac{\hbar^2k^2}{2m}$$
looks like graphically?

Zz.

I'm rather surprised that you asked this, considering what you wrote in this post:

If you have derived the dispersion relation for a free-electron gas, then what exactly is the issue here? Do you not know what
$$E(k) = \frac{\hbar^2k^2}{2m}$$
looks like graphically?

Zz.
Well, the electrons will occupy parabolic bands, but that's true for many band structures, all through the are not free electron gases, so there must be something else than that simple argument allowing me to by looking at a plot see if its a free electron gas, such as no splitting between bands?

Lord Jestocost
Gold Member
• Philip Land
How can I see, by looking at a band structure if the substance in question can be viewed as a free electron gas (FEG) or not?

What characterizes a FEG in a bandstructure plot?

I guess you are looking for the band structure of the nearly free electron in a crystal, right?
For that, you can transfer the free electron E-k relation to the first Brillouin zone.

fluidistic
Gold Member
Well, the electrons will occupy parabolic bands, but that's true for many band structures, all through the are not free electron gases, so there must be something else than that simple argument allowing me to by looking at a plot see if its a free electron gas, such as no splitting between bands?
Not really. The perfectly parabolic dispersion relation is a signature of a free electron model, at least as far as I understand. If the electrons interact weakly with the ions making the solid, a better description of the electrons can be obtained by using the nearly free electron model, that do take into account a potential of interaction between the electrons and the lattice. As a result, the dispersion relation is almost parabolic, but it has gaps, and it isn't quite parabolic due to a distorsion near the Brillouin zone (BZ). As you can imagine, if you complicate even more the description of the properties of the electrons, there is all the reasons in the world to guess that the dispersion relation will tend not to be a perfect parabola, which differs from the FEM.

@Lord Jestocost I would rather not look at the Fermi surface, because if we take a look at the one of lithium, it looks like a sphere that has no gap, i.e. it is entirely within the first BZ, even though it isn't exactly spherical. However the density of state near the Fermi energy differs somewhat compared to that of the FEM. So I wouldn't think that taking a look at the Fermi surface is a good indicator, but I may be wrong

Lord Jestocost
Gold Member
@fluidistic

You are right! The answer to the OP’s question
How can I see, by looking at a band structure if the substance in question can be viewed as a free electron gas (FEG) or not?
should be: Physically, electrons in metals can in principle not be viewed as free electron gases, as the electrons always experience the crystal potential. Some metals have nearly spherical Fermi surfaces, i.e., the crystal potential does not “distort” too much the free electron gas Fermi surface.

• Philip Land
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