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Cornell University

Basic Training Spring 2014

Cornell has a very eclectic group of condensed matter theorists: studying topics ranging from cold atoms to the statistical mechanics of biological networks.  This course is a venue for sharing that breadth: to give condensed matter theory students broad exposure to the tools/techniques/topics of the various research groups.  The title “Basic Training in Condensed Matter Physics” reflects the importance our theory group place on the course.  Some topics are indeed “basic” and approachable by first year graduate students in physics or related disciplines.  Others are “advanced topics” which more senior students will get more out of.  We encourage anyone from any department to attend: theorists and experimentalists.

If you wish to take the course for credit, you must complete two of the four modules (including all of the homework).  We strongly feel that the best way to get the most out of the course is to take it for credit.  All students who are in a condensed matter theory group should take the course for credit.  Auditors are welcome to attend only a single module.

Topics for Spring 2014


Jan 22 - Feb 7  -- Jim Sethna

  • Crystals: broken symmetries

  • Rigidity of crystals

  • Crystal surfaces: cusps, equilibrium crystal shapes, and reconstruction

  • Plasticity and deformation of crystals

  • Fracture and critical phenomena

Practical Density Functional Theory

Feb 12 - Feb 28 -- Tomas Arias

  • This module will be a practical introduction into writing and using density functional theory code.

Continuum Quantum Monte Carlo Methods in Chemistry and Physics

Mar 12 - 28 (or 5-25 -- exact dates are TBA)  -- Cyrus Umrigar

  • This module will introduce the ideas of quantum Monte Carlo, as applied both in Chemistry and Physics.

Geometry in Quantum Physics

April 9 - May 7 -- Erich Mueller

  • We will explore applications of differential geometry in quantum mechanics.  We will move from concrete examples (quantum mechanics of electrons in a bent sheet of graphene) through more abstract ones(quantum mechanics in electric and magnetic fields).  We will explore the geometry of control-parameter space in adiabatic processes.  Finally, we will consider the geometry of momentum space and get insight into polar solids, anomalous Hall effects, and topological insulators. 

Required background:  Quantum Mechanics at the level of PHYS 6572.  No prior geometry or differential geometry needed.

Lecture Notes: geometry.pdf

Homework 1 (Due Wednesday April 16): geometryhw1.pdf

Homework 2 (Short -- May Change -- Nominally Due Friday April 18): geometryhw2.pdf

Homework 3 (May Change -- Due Wednesday April 23): geometryhw3.pdf

Homework 4 -- Due Wednesday May 7: geometryhw4.pdf