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Please recommend me a book (intuitive)

  1. Oct 31, 2007 #1
    Allow me to elaborate. I'm in a graduate Solid State Physics course currently. Luckily (or not) its a Survey course. This means that while there are a lot of mathematics covered in the lectures, the purpose of the course is to promote a basic understanding of the material.
    Unfortunately I feel the class moves too fast and is over-saturated with the mathematics to allow me to gain a deep understanding of what is going on.
    The problem is, I can do the math, but I have trouble with some basic concepts. (Like being asked why the 1D model of a sting of monoatomic atoms unstable at low temperatures?)
    This is the first time I've really used k-space, fermi level/energy/etc;debye interpolation, etc. I mean we did degenerate perturbation theory for the semi free electron model. So while we have all of this overly technical/mathematical descriptions, we're expected to ignore it, and solely remember things like E,Cv Vs Temp, and how they go at different temperatures.

    Enough explanation. We're using Hook and Hall, but a lot of the material in class is not from the book, and a lot in the book is left out. I was wondering if there was a recommended book I could get that would perhaps be a step down, approaching it from more of an intuitive method so I can answer questions by thinking rather than doing the math (I hate not being able to reason things out).

    Thank you for your time!

    PS I know a lot of people here write their own webpages explaining basic principles; does anyone know of one for solid state?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 1, 2007 #2


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    You say the course is over-saturated with maths and moves too fast to gain a "deep understanding". I don't to be patronising but it sounds like your falling into the trap of asking why and ignoring the how.

    The "deepest" understanding possible is one of objective ie mathematical form. You can and should ask why it is like that, but doing so will occupy a lot of your time and get you nowhere.

    But I agree that in learning qualitative explanations are helpful and are hard to come by in textbooks. When I did my first solid state course I found a combination of hook & hall with the Kittel (5th ed?) was helpful.
  4. Nov 3, 2007 #3
    Well the problem was, if this was a non-survey course I would be ok with the indepth mathematics. I love mathematics. But since its survey, the professor flies through the material so we can get a "brief overview" but somehow expects us to take from it a deep understanding of the material. I just don't feel its possible. The only people who aren't struggling seem to be those who have had the full solid state course (grad level) prior to taking this (which is backward).

    I would never complain about the mathematics, its usually the major method of my understanding of physics. But when you spend an hour doing time dependent degenerate perturbation theory for a 3D crystal with a changing temperature, and then at the end say "And so you should see that E goes like this, but you don't have to remember how to get it or understand the math." Its very backward.
    I spend pretty much every free second I have trying to read hook and hall, but without the guidance of the instructor you end up reading whole chapters he has no intent on covering. I mean it took me a week to understand everything I do now about PN junctions.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm a good student. I'm great at math. But Hook&Hall just doesn't cut it for this course and I need an alternate source. I have no objections to reading it on my own I just need direction on where to go.
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