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Last modified: 16 Nov 2016 18:26

Course Overview

This course introduces students to the fascinating properties of inorganic materials through a series of lectures, tutorials and laboratory experiments. An introduction to crystallography and crystal diffraction is given. The students will also learn about solid state synthesis and the properties of important solid state materials such as high temperature superconductors, zeolites and ferroelectric materials. An introduction to the chemistry of transition metals and main group elements will be given.

Students will gain hands on experience in powder X-ray diffraction and will synthesise some of the key materials described within the course during the laboratory practicals.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session First Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Jorg Feldmann

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Course Aims:
This course deals with the crystalline state and will provide theoretical and practical coverage of crystal structures and methods for their characterisation. The course will introduce the concepts of solid state synthesis, and the applications to chemistry. The chemistry of main group and transition elements is discussed.

Main Learning Outcomes:
By the end of this course you will be able to:
Explain the concepts of unit cells, lattices and symmetry
Calculate bond lengths in simple crystal structures
Describe close packed structures, tetrahedral and octahedral holes.
Recall some important simple crystal structures
Describe symmetry, Bravais lattices and systematic absences in crystals.
Represent a simple crystal structure in 2D using a crystal structure projection
Derive and use Bragg's law.
Explain some structure-composition-property relations in inorganic crystals.
Understand some of the diffferent uses of powder diffraction.
Index a cubic powder pattern and determine the lattice type.
Use the structure factor equation to calculate Fhkl values for simple systems.
Describe the uses of neutron and electron diffraction in solid state chemistry.
Be able to describe the different experimental approaches to solid state synthesis.
Distinguish between thermodynamic and kinetic control of synthesis
Describe different approaches to growing single crystals of inorganic materials.
Describe the preparation of thin films.
Describe the characteristic structures and reactions of boron hydrides.
Apply qualitative MO theory to boron hydride clusters.
Use Wade's rules to predict the structures (shapes) of boron hydrides and related compounds.
Describe and rationalise the structures and geometries of xenon fluorides.
Propose possible structures for complex silicates based on their empirical chemical formulae.

Understanding will also be gained in the following topics:
Structure-property relationships, d-orbital energies in octahedral, tetrahedral and square-planar complexes.
Crystal-field stabilisation effect; reactive and kinetically inert complexes, Irving-Williams series.
Square-planar complexes, the trans effect.
Racah parameters and the nephelauxetic series.
Covalency in transition metal complexes, molecular orbital treatment, class (a0 and Class (b) (Hard and Soft) donors and acceptors.
Ground-state and dynamic Jahn-Teller effects.
Spectroscopic terms in free ions and in tetrahedral and octrahedral fields.
Spectra of transition metal complexes, weak-field and strong-field cases; interpretation of Tanabe-Sugano diagrams.

Crystal symmetry, X-ray, Neutron and electron diffraction, Perovskites - structure and properties, Zeolites - structure and properties. An introduction to solid state synthesis.

Main group/transition elements topics will include:
Wades rules, structures of main group clusters and compounds, molecular orbital theory, d-orbital energies, the Jahn-Teller effect, spectroscopic terms and structure-property relationships.

Further Information & Notes

The course cannot be taken with PX 3016 INTRODUCTION TO THE SOLID STATE.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • BSc Chemistry
  • BSc Chemistry with Physics
  • Master of Chemistry

Contact Teaching Time

127 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


1st Attempt: One three-hour written examination (66.7%) and in-course assessment (33.3% which consists of 5 laboratory reports). Resit: 1 three-hour written examination (66.7%) plus carried over in-course assessment (33.3%). Only the marks obtained at first attempt can be used for Honours classification

Formative Assessment

Exercises will be performed during tutorials and feedback will be given.


Informal feedback will be give to students after the tutorial exercises and practical reports.

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