The branch of physics that deals with the study of rigid solid matter is called Solid state physics. It is done through a variety of methods including quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, metallurgy and crystallography and forms the theoretical foundation of materials science as a whole. The basic function of solid state physics is to study how the atomic properties of a solid material affects its overall properties. It did not emerge as a separate field of study till the 1940s, although the the properties of solids have been studied by scientists for centuries.
Basic solid state physics
Every solid material is made up of densely packed atoms, the interaction between which decides the properties of the material. The mechanical, electrical, optical, thermal and magnetic properties of the item are all dependent on the interaction of the atoms making it up. The alignment of the atoms in a regular, geometric pattern or an irregular pattern depends on the materials involved and the conditions under which it was formed. The example of regular and irregular patterns can be crystalline solids such as metals and amorphous solids such as common window glass respectively.
Application of solid state physics
Concepts explained by solid state physics is applied rigorously all around us. The most important among them are:
- Electronic devices such as mobiles and computers
- Optical devices such as lasers and fiber optics
- Magnet based devices such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and vibrating devices
- Silicon based logic and memory bits
In other words, the whole concept of modern technology is based upon the principles of solid state physics. Even regular things such as the wiring in a building, the window pane, the magnet in a refrigerator door are all dependant on the principles derived from solid state physics.