Physics 581 - Winter 2012

Welcome to Physics 581 - Winter 2012!

Instructor: John S. Colton
 Email address: "john_" (including the underscore) plus "colton" at "byu dot edu"
 Office: N335 ESC, available by appointment
Office hours: 

TA:Tyler Park (probably)
Email address: TBA
TA Office hours:


  • 12 Dec 2011 - Barebones website set up. Updates will be posted here in the Announcements section as appropriate.


  • Introduction to Solid State Physics, by Charles Kittel (8th edition). Required textbook. This is the standard textbook used in solid state physics classes across the country, and will be the dominant source for my lectures and homework problems. We’ll cover the first eight chapters, plus some other odds and ends.  Here is a page of errata for the book: Errata for Kittel - Introduction to Solid State Physics - 8th edition.doc

  • Solid State Physics for Advanced Undergraduate Students, by Harold Stokes. Optional textbook. Dr. Stokes is a faculty member of our department. He taught Phys 581 for many, many years, and wrote this textbook for it. There are a few reasons why I chose the Kittel textbook over the Stokes one, but this is still a good reference. In many cases I found Dr. Stokes’ explanations easier to understand than Kittel’s. Plus it’s published very inexpensively through BYU Academic Publishing. It might be available in the bookstore; if not, ordering information can be found here: //


Lecture Notes and Handouts

Handouts for Upcoming Lectures

  • [none remaining]


  • hw 1 - due Wed, 11 Jan 2012 (links to the assignments will be provided as the HW assignments are available)
  • hw 2 - due Mon, 23 Jan 2012
  • hw 3A - due Fri, 27 Jan 2012
  • hw 3B - due Fri, 3 Feb 2012
  • hw 4 - due Mon, 13 Feb 2012
  • hw 5 - due Wed, 22 Feb 2012
  • hw 6 - due Wed, 7 Mar 2012
  • hw 7 - due Wed, 21 Mar 2012
  • hw 8 - due Fri, 30 Mar 2012
  • hw 9 - due Wed, 11 Apr 2012


  • [I've pretty much decided against posting grades; let me know if you have questions about your current grade.]


  • [I decided against posting links to the exams or exam solutions]


  • Dr. Colton's Basic Commands of Mathematica document, written as a brief primer for Physics 123 students. (Must be opened with Mathematica.)
  • BYU Physics Department's  website for Physics 230, where among other things the Introduction to Mathematica textbook can be downloaded.

Supplementary Material

  • Dr. Harold Stokes' computer resources for Physics 581 website, which includes 3D crystal structure models for several common structures.
  • A site by the Naval Research Lab with many, many crystal structures:  //

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