What is the Difference Between Solid State Physics and Condensed Matter Physics

The key difference between solid state physics and condensed matter physics is that solid state physics studies the properties of solid structures such as crystals, whereas condensed matter physics studies both solid and liquid systems.

Solid state physics involves the study of rigid matter or solids with the use of quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. Condensed matter physics is a field of physics that tends to deal with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of matter.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Solid State Physics  
3. What is Condensed Matter Physics
4. Solid State Physics vs Condensed Matter Physics in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Solid State Physics vs Condensed Matter Physics

What is Solid State Physics?

Solid state physics involves the study of rigid matter or solids with the use of quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. We can describe it as the largest branch of condensed matter physics. This branch of physics tends to study the large-scale properties of solid materials that result from atomic-scale properties. Therefore, solid-state physics can derive a theoretical basis from material science. Moreover, this branch of physics also has applications directly in the technology of transistors and semiconductors.

Usually, solid materials contain densely packed atoms that can interact intensely. These interactions can produce mechanical, electrical, thermal, optical, and magnetic properties of the solid material. These atoms can regularly rearrange during a chemical reaction, depending on the type of solid and the reaction conditions. As a general theory, solid-state physics focuses on crystals. This is because the periodic arrangement of atoms in a crystal tends to facilitate mathematic modeling.

In a crystal, the forces between atoms can occur in different forms. There can be ionic bonds, covalent bonds, or metallic bonds between these atoms. Moreover, there can even be Van der Waals interactions between atoms if we consider noble gas atoms.

Furthermore, the properties of a particular material depend on its crystal structure. We can investigate this structure using a range of crystallographic techniques such as X-ray crystallography, neutron diffraction, and electron diffraction.

Modern research areas of solid-state physics include high-temperature superconductivity, quasicrystals, spin glass, strongly correlated materials, nanomaterials, etc.

What is Condensed Matter Physics?

Condensed matter physics is a field of physics that deals with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of matter. This mainly includes the solid and liquid phases. The properties of these phases arise from electromagnetic forces between the atoms. In addition, condensed matter physics deals with condensed phases of matter. These are the systems consisting of strong interactions between them. However, there can be some exotic condensed phases which include the superconducting phase, Bose-Einstein condensate, etc. We can perform experiments for measuring various material properties through the application of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, etc.

Theoretical condensed matter physics involves the use of theoretical models to understand the properties of the state of matter. There are some models that are helpful in this theory, such as the Drude model, band structure, density functional theory, etc.

What is the Difference Between Solid State Physics and Condensed Matter Physics?

Solid-state physics is a branch of condensed matter physics. The key difference between solid state physics and condensed matter physics is that solid-state physics studies the properties of solid structures such as crystals, whereas condensed matter physics studies both solid and liquid systems.

The below infographic presents the differences between solid state physics and condensed matter physics in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Solid State Physics vs Condensed Matter Physics

Condensed matter physics and solid-state physics are important fields of physical chemistry. The key difference between solid state physics and condensed matter physics is that solid-state physics studies the properties of solid structures such as crystals, whereas condensed matter physics studies both solid and liquid systems.