Physics of materials

Physics of materials

Physics of materials is a 2nd semester elective specialised course held at University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.


2. semester - University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


Prof. Dr. Roman Šturm


Course Points (ECTS)


Contact Information

University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Course Overview

Module objective

The goal of the Physics of materials course is to provide the students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of material properties from the viewpoint of crystal structure, microstructure and process. The students therefore obtain knowledge about alloys and alloy systems, about the forming of microstructures, and about the influence of primary production process of alloys and materials, such as casting, sintering, kneading, extrusion and forming. All these processes also include material data available in the manuals.


  • The ability to evaluate material properties from the viewpoint of the created microstructure
  • Good understanding of mechanical and other physical properties of materials from the physical point of view, according to the material state after the primary formation, as well as under different operating conditions
  • The ability to evaluate microstructural changes at heat and thermomechanical material treatments for the given material and structure properties in different operating conditions
  • The ability to select metal and non-metal materials in scope of product design

Knowledge outcome

The student acquires knowledge on mechanical and physical properties of materials and composites. The students attain comprehensive and theoretically supported knowledge about the materials, enabling them to successfully evaluate and compare data about different types of materials and composites in structures, based on data about the basic material properties.

The students will use the assimilated knowledge to their benefit in all specialised and theoretical courses associated with different material technologies, both in the field of production of components and in the field of machine and device design, as well as in energy and process engineering, where they will use their theoretical knowledge about physical phenomena in different types of materials and composites built into structures.

Outline Syllabus

  • Crystal structure of metals and describing crystals: crystallographic defects and experimental methods used to describe the defects, diffusion, atomic diffusion models, diffusion mechanisms and activation energy, factors influencing the diffusivity, dislocation mechanisms in plastic forming, slipping, hardening, process annealing, thermokinetics of recovery and nucleation mechanisms. Metal/alloy hardening with phase transformations, nucleation mechanisms of solidification based on the kinetics of transformations in solid state during the formation of multiphase microstructure, precipitation and precipitation mechanisms, precipitation hardening.
  • Deformation of polycrystalline materials: dislocation mechanisms, dislocation lines and substructures, formation and representation of textures, recrystallization.
  • Creep: the creep phenomenon, describing the individual phases of creep, logarithmic description of deformations in the stationary zone, diffusion creep and slip, alloys resistant to creep.
  • Material fatigue and failure: cohesive strength theory, creep tests, fatigue fracture morphology for different loads, microstructural change at material fatigue, macroscopic and microscopic theory of fracture, Griffith's theory of fracture, mechanisms of microcrack formation, transition from ductile to brittle fracture, radiation damage, formation of high-temperature brittleness.
  • Plastic materials: reaction kinetics, polymer chain configuration, crystal and amorphous state, reaction types, types of plastic materials, additives for plastic materials, thermodynamic phases and properties, experimental methods for the characterisation of plastic materials, preparing polymer materials for processing.
  • Technical ceramics: physical-chemical foundations of ceramics, phase diagrams, interphase and surface phenomena, thermo-kinetic description of sintering, preparing and processing powders, product shaping and after-treatment, powder characterization, characterization of ceramic materials for different thermo-mechanical applications.
  • Composites: classification of composites, composites with a metal, polymer or ceramic matrix, compositions of composites, matrices, fibres and whiskers, boundary surfaces in composites, the fundamentals of composite micromechanics, mechanical properties of composites, composite fracture mechanics, composite characterization methods, composite 

Monitoring of student progress

  • exercise reports
  • homework assignments
  • written and oral examination


[1] Physical metallurgy. Vol. 1, 2, 3 / edited by R.W. Cahn, P. Haasen.- -Holland, 1996
[2] Kumar, S.A.: Ferrous physical metalurgy.- Boston: Butterworth, 1989
[3] Sinha A.K.: Physical Metallurgy Handbook, McGraw Hill Handbooks, New York, 2003
[4] Guy A.G.: Introduction to Materials Science, McGraw-Hill, Kogakusha, Tokyo, New York 1972
[5] Tilley R.I.D.: Understanding Solids, The Science of Materials, John Wiley & sons, Chichester 2004
[6] Solidification Science and Processing, eds.: I.Ohnaka, D.M.Stefanescu, TMS, 1995