Motivations to Study State Physics 

What is "Solid State Physics"?
Solid State Physics is loosely defined as the study of the microscopic properties of the dense assembly of electrons formed by placing atoms very close together in a solid. Stated another way, it is the study of solids using combinations of experimental methods which were originally from cyrstallography, metallurgy & engineering, along with the theoretical methods of quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, & electromagnetism. A goal of Solid State Physics is to try to understand how the macroscopic properties of solids result from their microscopic, atomic scale properties. So, Solid State Physics forms the theorectical basis of Materials Science. It also has direct applications to technology. (Some of these topics are discussed in more detail below). "Solid State Physics" is a very large, very broad physics sub-field! In fact, it is the largest branch of Materials Science
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As a research area, Solid State Physics can be thought of as "the opposite" of Particle Physics!
Solid State Physics deals with the microcsopic properties of large COLLECTIONS of many particles. By contrast, Particle Physics focuses on the properties of INDIVIDUAL particles. Particle physicists tend to break composite objects up into their constituent building blocks, while Solid State physicists are interested in what fundamentally NEW PROPERTIES emerge when these building blocks are grouped together in various ways. Of course, there are several Technological & Basic Physics motivations to study Solid State Physics.
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1. Technological Motivations to Study Solid State Physics
An obvious, very important motivation for the study of Solid State Physics is the fact that the microscopic properties it deals with are responsible for the majority of modern technology. These properties determine the mechanical strength of materials, how they interact with light, how they conduct electricity, etc. So, Solid State Physics is an important subject for technology, because it gives guidance on  how to design the circuits needed for modern electronic devices. This field, after all, gave us both the transistor & the semiconductor chip! For these reasons, Solid State Physics has been traditionally linked to materials science, chemistry & engineering. Recently, it has also developed overlaps with biology, biochemistry, biotechnology & medicine. So, many current research questions in Solid State Physics are at the frontiers of applied science & next-generation technologies.
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2. Basic Physics Motivations to Study Solid State Physics
Another important motivation for studying Solid State Physics is the fact that the basic, fundamental physics needed to understand the microscopic properties of solids is very interesting. Further, to understand these properties, the ideas & methods of quantum mechanics must be used. In fact, the physics of solids is VERY deeply quantum mechanical. For this reason, Solid State Physics has sometimes been called the best "laboratory" for studying subtle quantum mechanical effects. This course may be a first chance for students to see quantum mechanical ideas & methods applied to cases where their technological consequences are so important. Two examples (of MANY!) for which Solid State Physics discoveries have revealed very interesting fundamental physics are the observations & explanations of Superconductivity & the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect. Both of these have exotic quantum mechanical explanations.
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3. Nobel Prizes for Solid State Physics Research
A strong indicator that Solid State Physics has led (& continues to lead!) to the understanding of many very interesting basic physics phenomena is the fact that More than 40% of the Physics Nobel Prizes in the past 40 years (& 50% of those in the past 10 years!)  have been for work in Solid State Physics!
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4. The Solid State Physics Research Area
Many of you are likely taking this course because it is related to your research area. If so, I believe that you've chosen a very good,  interesting field!  LARGE numbers of new physics discoveries are made in this area all the time. For  example, the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Condensed Matter Physics or DCMP ("Condensed Matter" is ~ the same as "Solid State") is, BY FAR, the largest APS division! Roughly (1/3) of the ~ 50,000 APS members belong to DCMP. Another APS division is the Division of Materials Physics or DMP ("Materials Physics" is~ the same as "Applied Solid State"), which was started 15-20 years ago. The DMP is rapidly growing & may eventually become similar in size to the DCMP. (Many people belong to both!). BY FAR, the largest annual APS meeting is the joint meeting of DCMP & DMP. It is held each March (it's called the "March Meeting"!). 
The 2015 March Meeting (San Antonio, TX) had ~9,200+ people & ~8,500+ papers!
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5. Student Membership in the American Physical Society (APS) 
No matter what their research area, every Physics graduate student & every undergraduate who wants to go to graduate school should join the APS! The first year's membership is FREE to Students & the following student years are highly discounted! Graduate students working in Solid State, Condensed Matter or Material Physics should also consider joining.
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6. Student Membership in the Materials Research Society (MRS)
The MRS is another large professional organization, but it has a very interdisciplinary membership. This reflects the fact that people with many different backgrounds are doing various kinds of matertials research. For example, it has members with backgrounds in Physics, in Chemistry and in various types of Engineering.
7. Some Miscellaneous Solid State Physics Links are Here.

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