Get the notion of metals in motion

Introduction to the Electron Theory of Metals. First edition
November 29, 2002

The classic book on electron theory of metals, against which any new book on the subject must be compared, is Walter Harrison's Electronic Structure and the Properties of Solids (1989). Uichiro Mizutani starts with the advantage of having worked on Hume-Rothery alloys phases, thus following in the footsteps of the great Oxford scientist who prophetically foresaw the importance of quantum mechanics for metallurgy.

There are mandatory chapters of the kind you would find in almost any solid-state physics textbook, introducing the Sommerfeld free-electron theory, the Fermi-Dirac distribution function, the periodic lattice and its effect on the motion of electrons, the Bloch theorem, Bragg scattering, Brillouin zones and the Fermi surface. There is a chapter that proceeds systematically through the elemental metals and their electronic structures, and another splendid one on alloys. Each ends with a handful of exercises.

The book includes several relatively modern topics, such as quasi-crystals (crystals with local five-fold symmetry), Anderson localisation (that occurs in disordered materials), the conductivity of cuprates (the stuff of high-temperature superconductors), and a modern (though not particularly detailed) theory of magnetism.

The book does not break new scholarly ground in the way Harrison's did; it also fails to achieve the high level of pedagogical clarity expected of a textbook. In the presentation of the Drude theory for electrical conductivity, the author conveys neither the extent to which Drude was a pioneer in producing the first attempt to understand metals on a microscopic level, nor the extent to which the model is flawed.

The book is aimed at advanced undergraduates and graduate students in physics, chemistry, materials science and electrical engineering. Cambridge University Press had better watch out - there is strong competition from the new Oxford Master series in condensed-matter physics for a similar readership, which includes the superb Band Theory and Electronic Properties of Solids by John Singleton.

Andrew Briggs is professor of materials, University of Oxford.

Introduction to the Electron Theory of Metals. First edition

Author - Uichiro Mizutani
ISBN - 0 521 58334 9 and 58709 3
Publisher - Cambridge University Press
Price - £75.00 and £29.95
Pages - 590

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