Course Description: This course tackles the question of understanding materials systems in general. We begin by defining a multi-scaled framework of material assemblages: first at the level of nuclide (nuclear physics), then at the level of molecule (chemistry), then upwards to the ultra-molecular.
Of the three, it is the ultra-molecular that is the least formalized and for it we look to define a framework of material information. Our starting point is the crystal physics of Nye [Nye, 1957], which offers an analytical framework for considering reversible material thermodynamics and provides a complete tensorial description of energetic inputs.
Reversible thermodynamics, however, represents only a very limited range of material behavior and different conceptual tools are needed to consider the more interesting thermodynamically irreversible material phenomena. Irreversible material dynamics unfold over a multiplicity of organizational scales and model systems are necessary for illustrating these changes. First we start with those material systems occupying the intersectionality between simplest molecular configuration and greatest extent of physical understanding.
We then move on to look at the question of relative material complication in several steps. First in the hard condensed materials and then in the soft condensed materials. We look at why one type of system is more difficult to model than another. We will also address the hypothetical question of limiting material complication: what is the most complicated a material system can be? Student projects will be assigned as case studies examining more detailed aspects of these questions.