PHYS 5P79 - Experimental Methods in Condensed Matter Physics
Course outline
Instructor: S. Monfared

  • What Brock calendar entry says:

    • Comprehensive exploration of experimental techniques widely employed in condense matter physics: SQUID magnetometry, X-ray scattering, electron mictroscopy, and low-temperature and high-pressure technology. Methodology presentations will be diverse, encompassing the process of experiment design using advanced equipment, along with meticulous assessment of outcomes from both statistical and procedural perspectives. The initial phase will involve a brief classroom-based introduction, succeeded by a sequence of personalized, succinct, hands-on modules, each concentrating on a particular technique.

  • Prerequisite(s)

    • Students must have completed either PHYS 5P83 successfully or obtain the instructor's permission.

  • What does student need to bring into the course?

    • PHYS 5P79 aims to provide graduate students with the essential skill set required for proficiently operating advanced measurement equipment. To excel in this course, students should come equipped with strong foundation in physics principles, a proactive approach to learning, and a willingness to engage in hands-on experimentation and critical analysis.

  • Course Goals

    The primary objective of the course PHYS 5P79 is:

    • To empower graduate students with the theoretical knowledge and practical expertise essential for effectively utilizing and navigating advanced measurement equipment within the realm of physics.

    • By the end of this course, students should have developed a comprehensive understanding of various experimental techniques, enabling them to design, execute, and critically analyze experiments.

    Thereby, enhancing student's proficiency in the field of advanced measurement and instrumentation is the major goal of this course.

  • Textbook

    Due to the diverse range of equipment employed in this course, each possessing distinct measurement capabilities, students occasionally require the assistance of equipment user manual whether necessary. Additionally, for the interpretation of their measurement data, students may find it necessary to consult various external resources. These resources encompass information about the magnetic, electric, and thermal properties of materials, as well as references related to morphology and compositional analysis. Consequently, the following compilation of references is deemed invaluable.

    • Any textbook encompassing magnetic properties of materials.

    • For comprehensive insights into the electric properties of materials, students can benefit from any online references or textbooks specializing in this field.

    • To gain through understanding of the thermal properties of materials, students are encouraged to explore any online references or textbooks dedicated to this subject.

    • In-depth studies on the surface properties of materials can be pursued through any avilable references that focus on this specific aspect.

    • It is important to note that user manuals are readily accessible for all the equipment employed in this course, ensuring that students have the neccessary guidance for their operation and utilization.

  • Communication with the Instructor

    • your instructor operates with an open-door policy, allowing you to seek one-on-one assistance and ask questions at any time, except during restricted hours.

This course includes the following seven graduate level experiments:

  • X-Ray Diffraction (XRD)

  • Magnetization measurement as a function of temperature and magnetic field using Quantum-Design Magnetic Properties Measurement System (MPMS).

  • Heat Capacity measurement using Quantum-Design Physical Properties Measurement System (PPMS).

  • Resistivity and Magnetoresistance measurement using Quantum-Design PPMS.

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).

  • Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDS).

Following the conclusion of each characterization, students are expected to compose a laboratory report detailing the foundational principles, objectives, and procedural sequences of the experiment. Additionally, they are tasked with a comprehensive and precise interpretation of their findings, rooted in sound scientific evidence.

Component The percentage of the final mark Notes
Lab Reports 60% Students are required to prepare a lab report after each experiment is completed. The lab raport must meet all the requirements specified by the instructor of the course.
Final Presentation 30% The final presentation will be assessed based on its comprehensiveness, smoothness, and professional preparation. The presenter is expected to effectively address all their results and respond to at least 75 % of the instructor and audience's questions.
Punctuality 10% This portion of the grade is awarded to students who demonstrate accuracy in conducting experiments and show a keen eye for identifying the key points provided by the instructor.

Note: To receive a grade in this course, it is mandatory to compelete all lab assignments and attend all lab sessions and cooperate well with your laboratory fellow.

Outlined below are the expectations and responsibilities we have for you.

  • Students are required to attend all laboratory sessions and scheduled lecture according to Brock's Attendance Requirements

  • All students must be familiar with and adhere to the rules outlined in Brock University's Academic Integrity Policy. Additionally, all graduate students must engage in their studies with the utmost integrity in accordance with Brock's Integrity Policy.

  • Graduate students undertaking an experimental thesis project or other experimental Physics courses, are obligated to register for Health and Safety online Brightspace Training before attending to the 5P79 lab.

  • All the lab reports must be written in LaTeX. Students can access to the Physics Template from here.

  • Late lab report will Not be accepted.

  • Students are responsible for their own learning. While the experiments are designed to guide and assist them, the real effort of mastering the course material lies with student themselves. To maximize their learning experience, it is crucial to dedicate time to update your knowledge with recent research achivements in your field. Consistent reading, studying, and working on their project, helps solidify student's learning into long-term memory. This ensures student to build upon their knowledge and skills in their future career.

Academic misconduct is a serious offence. The principle of academic integrity, particularly of doing one’s own work, documenting properly (including use of quotation marks, appropriate paraphrasing and referencing/citation), collaborating appropriately, and avoiding misrepresentation, is a core principle in university study. Students should consult “Academic Misconduct” section in the Undergraduate Calendar to view a fuller description of prohibited actions, and the procedures and penalties. The University takes academic misconduct extremely seriously and will follow its strict procedures to the letter in all cases.

A helpful website explains Brock's Academic Integrity Policy. Please consult it, as all students are expected to know and abide by its provisions.

Courses may use, a phrase-matching software, to verify originality of your submitted lab reports and written assignments. If you object to uploading your assignmentsr to for any reason, please notify the instructor to discuss alternative submissions.

Be aware that it is the policy of the Department of Physics that any academic misconduct including (but not limited to) possessing, using or accessing unauthorized material in any form (including online) during final exams or assessments will automatically result in zero grade for the exam. Since most courses require a minimum passing grade on the final exam to complete the course, this will likely lead to a failure in the course.

FMS Penalties for Academic Misconduct

Unless otherwise specified, the Department of Physics follows the following minimum penalty guidelines for cases of academic misconduct in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science (FMS). Please be aware that the Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs, may assign different penalties than those listed here, depending on the details of individual cases. Also note that cheating on exams carries significantly higher penalties.

First offence:
Zero grade on the assignment, additional penalty of 100% of the weight of the assignment to be subtracted from the final grade, mandatory completion of the AZLS Academic Integrity workshop
Second offence:
Zero grade on assignment, additional penalty of 200% of the weight of the assignment to be subtracted from the final grade, 4-month suspension
Third or additional offence:
Zero grade in the course, 1-year suspension, permanent removal from major program.
Cheating on exams:
Zero grade in the course, including for first offenses.
Intellectual Property Notice

All slides, presentations, handouts, tests, exams, and other course materials created by the instructor in this course are the intellectual property of the instructor. A student who publicly posts or sells an instructor’s work, without the instructor’s express consent, may be charged with misconduct under Brock’s Academic Integrity Policy and/or Code of Conduct, and may also face adverse legal consequences for infringement of intellectual property rights.

Important dates

Please be aware of all the important dates, such as the first/last days of classes, snow days and reading week, as well as the deadline for withdrawal without academic penalty. For the current academic term, this information can be found here.


The University is committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all students and will adhere to the Human Rights principles that ensure respect for dignity, individualized accommodation, inclusion and full participation. The University provides a wide range of resources to assist students, as follows:

  1. If you require academic accommodation because of a disability or an ongoing health or mental health condition, please contact Student Accessibility Services at or 905 688 5550 ext. 3240.
  2. Medical Self-Declaration Forms (brief absence up to 72 hours)

    In the case of a short-term medical circumstance, if a student wishes to seek an academic consideration, please use the Medical Self-Declaration Form. The request is to be made in good faith by the student requesting the academic consideration due to a short-term condition that impacts their academic activities (e.g., participation in academic classes, delay in assignments, etc.). The period of this short-term medical condition for academic consideration must fall within a 72-hour (3 day) period. The form must be submitted to the instructor either during your brief absence or if you are too unwell, within 24 hours of the end of your 3 day brief absence.

    Medical Verification Form (extended duration)

    In cases where a student requests academic consideration due to a medical circumstance that exceeds 72 hours (three days) and will impact their academic activities (e.g., participation in academic classes, delay in assignments, etc.), or in the case of a final exam deferral, the medical verification form must be signed by the student and the health professional as per process set out in the Faculty Handbook III:9.4.1.

  3. If you are experiencing mental health concerns, contact the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre. Good2Talk is a service specifically for post-secondary students, available 24/7, 365 days a year, and provides anonymous assistance. Follow the above link or call 1-866-925-5454. For information on wellness, coping and resiliency, visit: Brock University (Mental Health).
  4. If you require academic accommodation on religious grounds, you should make a formal, written request to your instructor(s) for alternative dates and/or means of satisfying requirements. Such requests should be made during the first two weeks of any given academic term, or as soon as possible after a need for accommodation is known to exist.
  5. If you have been affected by sexual violence, the Human Rights & Equity Office offers support, information, reasonable accommodations, and resources through the Sexual Violence Support & Education Coordinator. For information on sexual violence, visit Brock's Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy or contact the Sexual Violence Support & Response Coordinator at or 905 688 5550 ext. 4387.
  6. If you have experienced discrimination or harassment on any of the above grounds, including racial, gender or other forms of discrimination, contact the Human Rights and Equity Office at

For a full description of academic policies in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, consult