The forces between the atoms in a crystal can take a variety of forms. For example, in a crystal of sodium chloride common salt , the crystal is made up of ionic sodium and chlorine , and held together with ionic bonds. In others, the atoms share electrons and form covalent bonds.
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In metals, electrons are shared amongst the whole crystal in metallic bonding. Finally, the noble gases do not undergo any of these types of bonding. In solid form, the noble gases are held together with van der Waals forces resulting from the polarisation of the electronic charge cloud on each atom. The differences between the types of solid result from the differences between their bonding.
The physical properties of solids have been common subjects of scientific inquiry for centuries, but a separate field going by the name of solid-state physics did not emerge until the s, in particular with the establishment of the Division of Solid State Physics DSSP within the American Physical Society. The DSSP catered to industrial physicists, and solid-state physics became associated with the technological applications made possible by research on solids. During the early Cold War, research in solid state physics was often not restricted to solids, which led some physicists in the s and s to found the field of condensed matter physics , which organized around common techniques used to investigate solids, liquids, plasmas, and other complex matter.
Many properties of materials are affected by their crystal structure. This structure can be investigated using a range of crystallographic techniques, including X-ray crystallography , neutron diffraction and electron diffraction. The sizes of the individual crystals in a crystalline solid material vary depending on the material involved and the conditions when it was formed.
Most crystalline materials encountered in everyday life are polycrystalline , with the individual crystals being microscopic in scale, but macroscopic single crystals can be produced either naturally e.
Real crystals feature defects or irregularities in the ideal arrangements, and it is these defects that critically determine many of the electrical and mechanical properties of real materials. Properties of materials such as electrical conduction and heat capacity are investigated by solid state physics. An early model of electrical conduction was the Drude model , which applied kinetic theory to the electrons in a solid.
By assuming that the material contains immobile positive ions and an "electron gas" of classical, non-interacting electrons, the Drude model was able to explain electrical and thermal conductivity and the Hall effect in metals, although it greatly overestimated the electronic heat capacity. Arnold Sommerfeld combined the classical Drude model with quantum mechanics in the free electron model or Drude-Sommerfeld model.
Here, the electrons are modelled as a Fermi gas , a gas of particles which obey the quantum mechanical Fermi—Dirac statistics. Categories : Metallurgy Physics. Hidden categories: Articles lacking sources from April All articles lacking sources.
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