1.Conducting Materials
Syllabus
Conductors – classical free electron theory of metals – Electrical and thermal conductivity – Wiedemann – Franz law – Lorentz number – Draw backs of classical theory – Quantum theory – Fermi distribution function – Effect of temperature on Fermi Function – Density of energy states – carrier concentration in metals.
Objectives
Understanding about the conduction properties of metals. Knowledge on various theories of electrons in solids. Knowledge on the different factors, affecting the conductivity of metals and the energy of electrons in metals. Proper Knowledge on the distribution and concentration and emission of electrons. Understanding about the variation of Fermi level with temperature and concentration of impurities in semiconductors.
Keywords: Conducting materials, Free electrons, Classical free electron theory, Quantum free
electron theory, Zone theory, Drift velocity (v _{d} ), Relaxation time (τ), Collision time (τ _{c}_{)}_{,} Mean free path
(λ),Electrical conductivity, Thermal Conductivity (K), Wiedemann – Franz law, Lorentz Number, Fermi distribution function, Density of Energy States.
1. Introduction
Materials with low resistance are generally called as conducting materials. These materials have higher electrical and thermal conductivities. They conduct a large quantity of heat and electricity. This conducting property of a material depends only on the number of valence electrons (electrons in the outermost orbit) available and not on the total number of electrons in the metal. These valence electrons are also called as free electrons (or) conducting electrons.
Classification of solids into Conductors, Semiconductors and Insulators
On the basis of forbidden band Conductors, Semiconductors and Insulators are described as follows:
1.
Conductors
In case of conductors, there is no forbidden band and the valence band and conduction band overlap each other. Here, plenty of free electrons are available for electric conduction. The electrons from valence band freely enter in the conduction band. The most important point in conductors is that due to the absence of forbidden band, there is no structure to establish holes. The total current in conductors is simply a flow of electrons.
2. SemiConductors
In semiconductors, the forbidden band is very small. Germanium and silicon are the examples of semiconductors. In Germanium the forbidden band is of the order 0f 0.7eV while in case of silicon, the forbidden gap is of the order of 1.1eV. Actually, a semiconductor material is one whose electrical properties lie between insulators and good conductors. At 0°K, there are no electrons in conduction band and the valence band is completely filled.
When a small amount of energy is supplied, the electrons can easily jump from valence band to conduction band. For example, when the temperature is increased, the forbidden band is decreased so that some electrons are liberated into the conduction band. In semiconductors, the conductivities are of the order of 10 ^{2} ohmmeter.
3. Insulators
In case of insulators, the forbidden energy band is wide. Due to this fact, electrons cannot jump from valence band to conduction band. In insulators, the valence electrons are bound very tightly to their parent atoms.
For example, in case of materials like glass, the valence band is completely filled at 0K and the energy gap between valence band and conduction band is of the order of 10 eV. Even in the presence of high electric field, the electrons do not move from valence band to conduction band.
When a very large energy is supplied, an electron may be able to jump across the forbidden gap. Increase in temperature enables some electrons to go to the conduction band. This explains why certain materials which are insulator become conductors at high temperature. The resistively of insulators is of the order of 10 ^{7} ohmmeter.
1.1 Electron Theory of Metals
The electron theory of solids explains the structures and properties of solids through their electronic structure. This theory is applicable to all solids both metals and nonmetals. This theory also explains the binding in solids, behavior of conductors and insulators, Ferromagnetism, electrical and thermal conductivities of solids, elasticity, cohesive and repulsive forces in solids etc., the theory has been developed in three main stages.
Main stages of electron theory of solids
i) 
Classical free electron theory 
In 1900, Drude and Lorentz developed this theory. According to this theory, the metals contain free electrons and these free electrons are responsible for the electrical conduction in the metals. This theory obeys the laws of classical mechanics. In this theory, the free electrons in metals are assumed to move in a constant potential. 

ii) 
Quantum free electron theory 
Sommerfield developed this theory during 1928, in which the free electrons obey the quantum laws. According to this theory, the electrons in a metal move in a constant potential and it obeys the laws of quantum mechanics. 

iii) 
Zone theory (or) band theory of solids 
Bloch stated this theory in 1928. According to this theory, the free electrons move in a periodic potential provided by the periodicity of the crystal lattice. Since this theory explains the electrical conductivity based on the energy bands it is also called as Band theory of solids.
Classical Free electron theory of metals
Postulates:
The classical electron theory is based on the following postulates:
i) A solid metal consists of atoms and atoms have nucleus around which electrons are revolving.
ii)
The valence electrons of atoms in a metal are free to move about the whole volume of the metal like the molecules of a perfect gas in a container. Thus in classical free electron theory, one
visualizes the collection of valence electrons from all the atoms forming an electron gas which is free to move throughout the volume of the metal.
iii)
iv)
v)
vi)
vii)
viii)
In the absence of electric field, these free electrons move in random directions and collide with either positive ions fixed to the lattice or other free electrons. All these collisions are elastic i.e., there is no loss of energy.
When an electric field is applied to the metal, the free electrons are accelerated in the direction opposite to the direction of applied electric field. Since the electrons are assumed to be a perfect gas molecule, they obey classical kinetic theory of gases.
The electron velocities in metal obey the classical MaxwellBoltzmann distribution of velocities.
Drift velocity (v _{d} ): It is defined as the average velocity acquired by the free electron in a particular direction due to the application of electric field.
Relaxation time (ττττ): It is the time taken by the free electron to reach its equilibrium position from its disturbed position in the presence of applied field.
Collision time (ττττ _{c}_{)} : It is the average time taken by a free electron between two successive collisions.
ix)
Mean free path (λλλλ): The average distance traveled between two successive collisions is called mean free path.
1.2 Electrical conductivity of a metal
Let us consider a conductor of unit volume and ‘n’ be the number of free electrons in it. In the
absence of an electric field, these free electrons will move in different directions with different
velocities. The average velocity of the electrons at any instant in any direction must be zero.
When an electric field is applied to the conductor, the electrons are subjected to acceleration.
The drift velocity of the electrons will depend upon the applied field, greater is the drift velocity and
consequently, higher would be the number of electrons per second through unit area, i.e., the current
passing through the conductor will be high.
The force experienced be an electron = Ee
Where,
E – Applied electric field e – The electronic charge
 (1)
According to Newton’s second law, the force experienced by an electron = ma ∴m a = E e
 (2)
a = 
Ee 
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (3) 
m 
But the acceleration of the electron = drift velocity/ relaxation time
∴
v
d
=
=
v
d
τ =
a
τ
Ee
τ
m
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (4)
The relaxation time is approximately equal to 10 ^{}^{1}^{4} seconds. Hence the steady state current
density can be achieved within 10 ^{}^{1}^{4} seconds. The current density per unit area normal to the current
density,
J
J
∴
=
=
J
nev
d
ne
Ee
τ
m
=
ne
2
τ
m
E
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (5)
The electrical conductivity is defined as the steady state current density per unit field.
σ =
J
E
∴ The electrical conductivity
σ
=
ne
2
τ
− −− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − −− − (6)
m
Thus the electrical conductivity σ is directly proportional to the electron density and relaxation
time of the electrons. This expression also shows that the different conductivities of different materials
are due to different number of free electrons.
The mobility of the electrons is defined as the magnitude of the drift velocity per unit applied field. i.e.,
µ =
v
d
E
=
τ
e
m
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (7)
∴σ = neµ
Hence the resistivity of the material of the conductor is
ρ
1
= =
1
m
=
σ
ne
µ
ne
2
τ
1.3 Thermal Conductivity (K)
Definition:
− − − − − − − − −− − − − − − − (8)
Thermal conductivity of the material is defined as the amount of heat conducted per unit
area per unit time maintained at unit temperature gradient.
where,
i e
.
.,
Q
= −
K
dT
dx
dT/dx 
= temperature gradient 
Q 
= heat flux or heat density 
K 
= the coefficient of thermal conductivity of the material. 
Expression for Thermal Conductivity of a metal
On the basis of kinetic theory, if two temperatures are equal, if T _{1} = T _{2} , then there is no transfer
of energy. If T _{1} > T _{2} , there is transfer of energy from E to F (Fig.)
Consider a uniform rod AB with the temperature T _{1} at end A and T _{2} at the other end
The two cross sections A and B are separated by a distance λ. Heat flows from hot end A to the cold end b by the electrons.
The amount of heat (Q) conducted by the rod from the end A to be of length λ is given by
Q =
(
KA T
1
−
T
2
)
t
λ
∴ The coefficient of conductivity per unit area per unit time
where,
K
=
Q
(
T
1
−
T
2
)
λ
K = coefficient of thermal conductivity A = Area of cross section of the rod
In Collision, the electrons near A loses their kinetic energy while the electrons near B gains the energy.
The average kinetic energy of the electron near A
3
A =
2
K T
B
The average kinetic energy of the electron near B
Where,
B =
3
2
K T
B
2
K _{B} = Boltzmann constant.
∴Excess kinetic energy carried by the electron from A to B
=
=
3
2
3
2
K
K
B
B
T −
1
(
T
1
3
2
K
B
−
T
2
)
T
2
Let us assume that there is equal probability for the electrons to move in all the 6 directions as
shown in Fig. Since each electron travels with thermal velocity ‘v’ , if n is the free electron density,
then on an average 1/6 nv
Electrons will travel in any one direction.
Then,
The number of electrons crossing unit area per second in one direction from A to B
=
1
6
nv
Excess of energy transferred from A to B for unit area in unit time
=
1
6
[
nv K EatA − K EatB
.
.
]
We know that Kinetic energy K.E
∴ The total energy transferred
=
=
1
2
1
6
=
=
2 3
=
2
mv
K T
B
nv
3
2
K
B
T
1
−
3
2
K T
B
2
1
nv
6
nvK
3
2
B (
K
T
1
B
[
T
1
− T
2
−
)
T
2
]
4
Similarly, deficiency of energy carried from B to A for unit area in unit time
= −
nvK
B
(
T −T
1
2
)
4
Hence net energy transferred from A to B per unit area per unit time (or) heat flux Q is given by
If K be the thermal conductivity of the material, then the transfer of energy per unit area per unit time is given by
Q
Q
i e
.
=
=
.,
Q =
From Equs.(1) and (2)
nvK
B
( )
T
1
−
T
2
nvK
B
4
( )
T
1
−
T
2
4
−
+
nvK
−
nvK
B
(
T
1
−
T
2
)
B
(
T
1
4
−
T
2
)
4
Q =
nvK
B
(
T
1
−
T
2
)
2
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − −
(1)
K
(
T
1
−
T
2
)
λ
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (2)
K
(
T
1
−
T
2
)
nvK
B
(
T
1
−
T
2
)
=
λ
2
∴
K
=
nvK
B
λ
2
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (3)
Where λ is the mean free path of an electron.
We know that for metals, Relaxation time = Collision time
i e
.
.,
(
or
τ
=
τ
c
=
λ
v
)
τ
v =
λ
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − −
(4)
Substituting eqn.(4) in equation (3), we get
K =
2
nv K
τ
B
2
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (5)
Equation (5) is the classical expression for thermal conductivity.
1.4 Wiedemann – Franz law (Derivation)
Statement
The ratio between the thermal conductivity and the electrical conductivity of a metal is directly proportional to the absolute temperature of the metal. This ratio is constant for all metals.
.
i e
.,
K
σ
∞
(
T or
)
K
σ
=
LT
Where L is known as Lorentz number whose value is
Derivation
=
2.44
×
10
−
8
watt
−
ohmk
−
2
at293K.
WiedemannFranz law can be derived using the expressions of thermal conductivity and electrical conductivity of metal. Electrical conductivity of metals is given by
σ 
= 
ne 
2 τ 
−− − − − − − − − − − − − −− − − − − − − − − (1) 
m 
Thermal conductivity is given by
K =
2
nv K
τ
B
2
From eqn(1) and eqn(2)
− − − − − − − −− − − − − − − − − − − − − − (2)
Thermalconductivity
electricalconductivity
=
1
2
nv K
τ
B
2
K
=
σ
ne
2
τ
K
1
2
mv K
B
=
σ
2
e
2
m
− −− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − −− − (3)
We know that the kinetic energy of an electron
1 3
mv
2
=
K
2 2
B T − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (4)
From eqn(3) and eqn(4) we get
(or)
K 
= 
3 K 
B TK B 

σ 
2 
e 
2 

2 

K 
= 
3 K B 


σ 
2 
e 

K 
= LT
T − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (5)
σ
where,
and it is a constant known as Lorentz Number.
L =
3
2
K
B
e
2
(or)
K
σ
∞
T − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (6)
Thus the ratio of the thermal conductivity to electrical conductivity of a metal is directly proportional to the absolute temperature of the metal.
This proves WiedmannFranz law for a conducting material.
Lorentz Number
Lorentz number is a constant given by
L =
3
2
K
B
e
2
K
e
B
=
∴
L
i e
.
.,
10
−
23
−
19
=
1.6021 10
1.38
×
×
JK
−
1
Coulomb
=
L
3
1.38
×
10
−
23
K
2
=
1.6021 10
W
10
×
−
8
1.12
×
−
19
Ω
2
−
2
=
1.12
×
10
−
8
W
Ω
K
−
2
where, It is found that the classical value of lorentz number is only half of the experimental value i.e.,
L
=
2.24
×
10
−
8
W
Ω
K
−
2
This discrepancy in the experimental and theoretical value of larentz number is the failure of classical theory. This discrepancy is rectified by quantum theory.
Success of classical free electron theory
(i) 
It verifies Ohm’s law 
(ii) 
It explains the electrical and thermal conductivities of metals. 
(iii) 
It derives Wiedemann – Franz law. 
(iv) 
It explains optical properties of metals. 
1.5 Drawbacks of Classical Free electron Theory
(i) From the classical free electron theory the value of specific heat of metals is given by 4.5 R,
where R is called the universal gas constant. But experimental value of specific heat is nearly
equal to 3R. Further according to classical free electron theory, the value of the electronic
specific heat is equal to 3/2R. But actually it is about 0.01 R only.
(ii)
By classical free electron theory, the Lorentz number is given by
3
K
B
=
2
1.12
×
e
10
−
8
L =
2
(
1.38
×
10
−
23
)
3
=
W
2
Ω
K
−
1.602
2
×
10
−
19
2
For copper at 20°C, the electrical resistivity is 1.72x10 ^{}^{8} ohmm and the thermal conductivity is 386 w/m/k. Hence,
L
=
K
T
σ
=
k
ρ
T
=
2.26
×
10
−
8
W
Ω
K
−
2
This value does not agree with the calculated value based on the classical free electron theory.
Thus it suggests that all the free electrons in a metal do not participate in thermal conduction
and electrical conduction as assumed by the classical free electron theory.
(iii) 
Electrical conductivity of semiconductors or insulators could not be explained using this theory 
(iv) 
The theoretical value of paramagnetic susceptibility is greater than the experimetal value. 
Ferromagnetic cannot be explained by this theory. 

(v) 
The photo electric effect, Compton effect and black body radiation cannot be explained by the 
classical free electron theory.
1.6 Quantum Theory
1. In 1900, Plank made the assumption that energy was made of individual units, or quanta.
2. In 1905, Albert Einstein theorized that not just the energy, but the radiation itself was quantized
in the same manner.
3. In 1924, Louis deBroglie proposed that there is no fundamental difference in the makeup and
behaviour of energy and matter; on the atomic and subatomic level either may behave as if
made of either particles or waves. This theory is known as the principle of waveparticle
duality.
4. In 1927, Heisenberg proposed that precise, simultaneous measurement of two complementary
values such as the position and momentum of a subatomic particleis impossible. This theory
became known as the uncertainty principle.
Electron energies in metals and Fermi energy
Fermi distribution function
In metals, the electrons are distributed among the different possible energy atates. In a metal,
the energy of the highest filled state at 0K is called the Fermi energy E _{F} or Fermi level. The
magnitude of E _{F} depends on how many free electrons there are. At 0K all states upto E _{F} are occupied
and states above E _{F} are empty.
The probability F(E) of an electron occupying a given energy level is known as Fermi
Dirac distribution function and it is written as
F
(
E
)
=
1
1
+
exp
E
−
E
F
K T
B
Where, F(E) = Fermi Function
E = Energy of the levelwhose occupancy is being considered.
E _{F} = Fermi energy of the system
K _{B} = Boltzmann’s constant
T = Absolute temperature
The probability value of F(E) lies between 0 and 1
Unit probability means that the state is always full. Zero probability means that it is always empty.
At temperatures above 0K some electrons absorb thermal energy and move into higher
quantum states. The Pauli exclusion principle rules that an electron can only enter an empty state, so
that thermally excited ones must go into states above E _{F}_{.}
Thermodynamics shows that the average allowance of thermal energy to a particle in a system
at a temperature T K is of the order kT so that only electron within an energy interval kT from E _{F} can
take up thermal energy and go to higher states with energy E _{F} +kT. At room temperature kT is only 10 ^{}
^{2} E _{F} or less, so that only something like 1% of the electrons can take their allowance. Thats why the
specific heat of the electron gas is much smaller than what the classical free electron theory predicts.
Variation of FermiDirac distribution function with temperature:
At 0 Kelvin the electrons filled all the states up to a certain maximum energy level (E _{m}_{a}_{x} ),
called Fermi level or Fermi energy. The Fermi level is a boundary line which separates all the filled
states and empty states. At 0K all states up to E _{F} are filled and states above E _{F} are empty.
Case 1: At 0K
(i) If E > E _{F} ,
(ii)
1 F = E = ( ) 
1 
= 
0 

1 + e 
∞ 
∞ 

E ∴ 0 F ( ) = 

If E<E F 

F 
( E ) = 1 
= 
1 
= 
1 

1 + e 
−∞ 
1 

∴ 
F ( E ) = 1 
ie, Fermi function is 100%. It means 100% chance for the electron to be filled within the Fermi level.
(iii) If E = E _{F}
F 
( E ) = 
1 
= 
1 
= 
0.5 

1 
+ 
1 
2 

∴ 
F ( E 
) 
= 
0.5 
ie, Fermi function is 50%. It means 50% chance for the electron to be filled within the Fermi level.
Density of Energy States and Carrier Concentration in Metals
Definition:
Density of states is defined as the number of energy states present in an energy interval dE (the
energy range from E to (E+dE) per unit volume of the material.
Explanation:
We know that the number of energy states with a particular value of E depends on the possible
combinations of quantum numbers having the same value of n. To calculate the number of energy
states with all possible energies with n as radius, construct a sphere in three dimensional space and
every point within the space represents an energy state.
And also an every integer represents one energy state, unit volume of this space contains
exactly one state. Hence the number of states in any volume expressed in units of cubes of lattice
parameters.
Therefore, the number of energy states within a sphere of radius
n =
4
3
π n
3 . Since n _{1}_{,} n _{2} and n _{3}
can have only positive integer values, we have to consider only one octant of the sphere.
In order to calculate the number of states within the small energy interval E and E+dE, we have to construct two spheres with radii n and n+dn and calculate the space occupied within thesetwo spheres.
Hence available energy states within the sphere of radius
states within the sphere of radius
n
+
dn
1
=
8
4
3
(
π n
+
dn
)
3 ^{.}
n
=
1
8
4
3
πn
3 and available energy
Thus the number of energy states having energy values between E and E+dE, in the energy
interval dE is given by,
Z (
E )
dE
Z
(
)
E dE
=
=
1
8
1 4
4
3
π n
π
3
(
n
8
3
+
+
dn
)
3
(
dn
)
3
−
+
1
8
3
4
3
π n
2
n dn
+
3
3
(
dn
)
2
n
−
n
3
Since the higher powers of dn is very small, dn ^{2} and dn ^{3} terms can be neglected.
∴
(
Z E
(
or
)
)
dE
(
Z
(
or
E dE
)
)
=
Z
(
)
E dE
=
=
π
6
3
2
n dn
π
2
π
2
2
n dn
nndn
− − − − − − − −− − − − − − − − − (1)
The energy of the free electron is the same as the energy of a particle in a box.
E =
8
h 2
ma
2
n
2
x
+
n
2
y
+
n
2
z
− − − − − − − −− − − − − − − (2)
E
=
2
n h
2
8 ma
2
− − − − − − − −− − − − − − − − − − − − − − (3)
Where, n ^{2} = n _{x} ^{2} + n _{y} ^{2} + n _{z} ^{2} , where n _{x} ,n _{y} ,n _{z} are quantum numbers corresponding to three perpendicular axes x,y,z.
From eqn (3),
mmass of the electron a side of the cubically shaped metal
2
n
ma
= 8 E
2
h
2
− − − − − − − − − −− − − − − − − − − − − (4)
n
=
8
ma
2
h
2
1
2
E
1
2 − − − − − − − − − −− − − − − − − − − (5)
Also differentiating equation (4) we get
8
2
ma
2 ndn
ndn
=
=
8
h
ma
2
2
h
2
dE
dE
− − − − − − − − − − − − − −− − − − − (6)
Substituting equation (5) & (6) in equation (1) we get,
Z 
( 
E 
) 
dE 
= 
Z 
( 
E ) dE 
= 

Z 
( 
E ) dE 
= 
π
n . ndn
2
π
ma
8
2
2
2
h
π
8
2
ma
4
h
2
1
2
3
2
E
E
1
2
1
2
8
ma
2
2
h
2
dE
dE − − − − − − − − − − − − (7)
Number of energy states in the range from E to E+dE per unit volume is (Density of states)
Z
(
E
)
dE =
π
8
ma
2
4
h
2
3
2
1
2
E dE
3
a
3
2
1
2
E dE
8
m
(
)
E dE
=
π
Z
− − − − − − − − − − − − (8)
According to Paul’s exclusion principle, each energy state can accommodate two electrons (one spin up and another spin down) and hence the number of energy states per unit volume available for electron occupancy is given by
4
h
2
Density of energy states
Z
Z
(
E
)
(
E
)
dE =
dE =
π
8
m
2
×
h
2
3
2
4
π
8
m
2
h
2
3
2
1
2
E dE
1
2
E dE
− − − − − − − − − − − − − (9)
Carrier Concentration in Metals (or) Calculation of Fermi Energy
Normally all the states are not filled states. The probability of occupation of electron in an
energy state is given by FermiDirac distribution function F(E). Therefore the number of filled energy
statea N(E)dE between the interval of energy dE is given by
N _{(}_{E}_{)}_{d}_{E} = Z _{(}_{E}_{)}_{d}_{E}_{.}_{F} _{(}_{E} _{)}_{−} − − − − − − − − − − − − (10) Substitute equation (9) in equation (10) we get,
N
(
)
E dE
=
π
8
m
h
2
2
3
2
1
2
E dE . F
(
E
)
− − − − − − − − −
(11)
N(E) is known as carrier concentration in metals.
The carrier concentration , ie., the number of electrons per unit volume in a given energy range
of interest is determined by summing the product of the density states Z(E) and the occupancy
probability F(E)
ie.,
n
c
=
∫ Z
energyband
(
E
)
F
(
)
E dE
substituting the values of Z(E) and F(E)
n
c
=
∫
energyband
4
π
h
3
(
2
m
)
3
2
E
1
2
1
.
1 + e
(
E
−
E
F
)
/
kT
dE − − − − − −
(12)
This is the expression for density of charge carriers at any temperature.
Calculation of Fermi Energy
Case 1: Fermi Energy at 0 Kelvin
We know at 0K, maximum energy level that can be occupied by the electron is called Fermi energy level (E _{F} ).
At 0K for E<E _{F} , F(E) = 1
Therefore Integrating equation (12) within the limits 0 to E _{F} we can get the number of energy states electrons (n _{e} ) within the Fermi energy E _{F} .
∴
n
e
n
e
=
=
∴Number of energy states of electrons at 0K
∴Fermi Energy
3
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (13)
− − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − − (13)
Case 2: Average energy of an electron at 0K
Average energy of an electron,
Here,
E
average
=
Totalenergyoftheelectronsat K
0
Numberofenergystatesat K
0
− − − − − −
(14)
The total energy of the electrons at 0K = Number of energy states at 0K X energy of the electron
ie,
substituting equation (12) and (15) in equation (14)
3
2
5
2
F
E
π
8
m
5
h
2
E
=
average 3
2
π
3
8
m
h
2
3
2
F
E
E
average
3
= E
5
5
2
F
−
F
. E
3
2
∴The average energy of an electron at 0K is,
3
5
E
F
.
Summary

The electron theory of solids aims to explain the structures and properties of solids through their electronic structure. 

The classical free electron theory (Drude and Lorentz), the quantum free electron theory (Sommerfeld) and the Zone theory (Bloch) are the three stages of the electron theory of solids. 

The classical free electron theory visualizes a metal as an array of atoms (ions) permeated by a gas of free electrons. 

The quantum free electron theory is based on the wave aspect of electrons. 

The wave function is defined as the probability amplitude of a particle to find its location and measures the variations of matter waves. 

Density of states is defined as the number of states per unit volume in an energy interval. 

Conductance is the property of a material by which it allows the flow of electric current. 

The drift velocity ‘v _{d} ’ is defined as the average velocity acquired by an electron in the presence 
of an electric field.
V _{d} = J/ne.
Relaxation time (τ) is defined as the time taken by the electron to reach equilibrium position
from its disturbed position in the presence of electric field. The collision time (τ _{c} ) is defined as the time taken by an electron between two successive collisions. For an isotropic collision, τ =
τ _{c} .
Problems and Solutions
1.
Evaluate the Fermi function for an energy K _{B} T above the Fermi energy. Solution:
We know Fermi function F(E)
For an energy K _{B} T above Fermi energy E E _{F} = K _{B} T
F
(
E
)
=
1
1
+
exp
E
−
E
F
K T
B
F(E) = 1/ 1+e ^{1} = 1/ 1+2.7183
F(E) = 0.26894
2. Use the Fermi distribution function to obtain the value of F(E) for EE _{F} = 0.02 eV at 250
K.
Solution:
We know Fermi function F(E)
F
(
E
)
=
1
1
+
exp
E
−
E
F
K T
B
K _{B} = 1.38 x 10 ^{}^{2}^{3} JK ^{}^{1}
EE _{F} = 0.02 eV = 0.02 x 1.6 x 10 ^{}^{1}^{9} = 3.2 x 10 ^{}^{2}^{1} eV T = 250 K
F(E) = 1 / 1+
e ^{3}^{.}^{2} ^{x} ^{1}^{0}
PART – A QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. What is meant by drift velocity?
Drift velocity is defined as the average velocity acquired by the free electron in a
particular direction due to the application of electric field.
2. What is meant by relaxation time?
Relaxation time (τ) is the time taken by the free electron to reach its equilibrium
position from its disturbed position in the presence of applied field.
3. What is meant by collision time?
Collision time (τ _{c} ) is the average time taken by a free electron between two successive
collisions.
4.
What are the successes of classical free electron theory?
(a) 
Its verifies Ohms law. 
(b) 
It explains the electrical and thermal conductivity of metals. 
(c) 
It is used to derive Wiedemann – Franz law. 
(d) 
The optical properties of metals can be explained using this theory. 
5. 
What are the drawbacks of classical free electron theory? 

(a) 
It is a macroscopic theory. 

(b) 
In classical theory, all free electrons absorb energy, but in quantum theory, only few 

electrons absorb energy. 

(c) 
This theory cannot explain the Compton, photoelectric effect, etc. 

(d) 
By Classical theory, k / σ ∞ T , or k / σT = L = a constant for all temperatures, but in 

quantum theory, k / σT ≠ constant for all temperatures. 

6. 
What is meant by mean free path? 

The average distance travelled between two successive collisions is called mean free path (λ). 

7. 
What is meant by wave – particle duality? 

In 1924, Louis de Broglie proposed that there is no fundamental difference in the 

makeup and behavior of energy and matter; on the atomic and subatomic level either may 

behave as if made of either particles or waves. This theory is known as the principle of wave – 

particle duality. 

8. 
Define electrical conductivity of metals. 

Electrical conductivity or specific conductivity is a measure of a material’s ability to 

conduct an electric current. When an electric potential difference is applied across a conductor, 

its movable charges flow, giving rise to an electric current. The conductivity σ is defined as the 

ratio of the current density J to the electric field strength E, 

σ = J / E (or) J = σE 

9. 
Define thermal conductivity of metals. 
The quantity of heat flows in one second through a unit cube of material when it’s opposite
faces is maintained at a temperature difference of 1°C.
Unit of K is W/m/K.
K = Qλ / A(T _{1} – T _{2} )t
10. State WiedemannFranz law.
The ratio of the thermal conductivity to the electrical conductivity of a metal is
proportional to the temperature.
K / σ ∞ T
(or) K / σ = LT
11. What is Lorentz number? Give the value of Lorentz number.
From Wiedemann Franz law,
Where,
K / σ = LT
L =
3
2
K
B
e
2
By substituting the values,
We get Lorentz number, L = 1.12 x 10 ^{}^{8} W ΩK ^{}^{2}
The experimental value of Lorentz number is 2.44 x 10 ^{}^{8} W ΩK ^{}^{2}
12. What is meant by Fermi level?
At 0K the electrons filled all the states up to a certain maximum energy level (E _{m}_{a}_{x} ),
called Fermi level or Fermi energy. The Fermi level is a boundary line which separates all the
filled states and empty states. At 0K all states up to E _{F} are filled and states above E _{F} are empty.
13. Define density of Energy states.
Density of states Z(E) dE is defined as the number of available electron energy states
per unit volume in an energy interval d(E).
14. What is meant by Fermi  Dirac distribution function?
The Fermi function F(E) is the probability of an electron occupying in a given energy
state 
ie, 

F 
( 
E 
) 
= 

where, 
1
1
+
exp
E
−
E
F
K T
B
F(E) = Fermi Function
E = Energy of the levelwhose occupancy is being considered.
E _{F} = Fermi energy of the system
K _{B} = Boltzmann’s constant
T = Absolute temperature The probability value of F(E) lies between 0 and 1 Unit probability means that the state is always full. Zero probability means that it is always empty.
Descriptive Type Questions
1. Give the postulates, Drawbacks and success of classical free electron theory.
2. Derive an expression for electrical conductivity of metals.
3. Derive an expression for Thermal conductivity of metals.
4. State and prove WiedemannFranz law.
5. Derive an expression for density of energy states.
6. Obtain an expression for the carrier concentration in metals and Fermi energy at 0K.
7. Define Fermi energy and explain FermiDirac distribution for electrons in a metal.
Objective Type Questions and Answers
1. The electron theory of metals is used in understanding the concept of
(a) Energy levels in metals (c ) binding in solids
(b) Cohesive and repulsive forces in metals (d) all of the above
2. Which of the following will be lower for 18 gauge copper wire?
(a) Weight
(b) resistance
(c) cost
(d) strength
3. Which variety of copper has the best electrical conductivity?
(a) 
Pure annealed copper 
(c) hard drawn copper 
(b) 
Induction heated copper 
(d) copper containing traces of silicon 
4. Which of the following factors has the least effects on the electrical conductivity of wires composed of copper alloy?
(a) 
Method of forming the wire 
(b) temperature 

(b) 
Alloying element 
(d) 
intensity of any incident light 
5. Which of the following increases when copper is hard drawn into wires?
(a) Resistivity
(b) diameter
(c
) crosssectional area
(d) specific gravity
6. Which of the following is used for making the resistance of heating elements?
(a) Nichrome (b) invar (c) phosphor bronze (d) manganin
7. Most widely used conducting materials are
(a) 
Gold and silver (b) copper and aluminium 

(c 
) copper and silver 
(d) gold and platinum 
8. In a good conductor, the conduction current is
(a) 
Equal to displacement current 
(b) 
Smaller than displacement current 
(c) 
Much greater than displacement current 
(d) 
not related with displacement current 
9. The electrical conductivity of a conductor may be increased by
(a) 
Increasing its temperature (b) decreasing its temperature 

(c 
) increasing its vibrations 
(d) decreasing its temperature and vibrations 
10. The following list gives the four metals gold(Au), Silver(Ag), aluminium(Al) and Copper(Cu) in increasing order of resistively.
(a) 
Ag, Cu, Au, Al 
(b) Au, Ag, Cu, Al 
(c) 
Ag, Au, Cu, Al 
(d) Cu, Ag, Au, Al 
11. At very high temperatures, the mean free path and collision time in a conductor are proportional to
(a) 
1/T 
(b) 1/ T ^{2} 
(c 
) T ^{2} 
(d) Independent of T where T is the temperature in Kelvin 
12. On increasing the impurity concentration in the metal the residual part of the resistivity.
(a) 
Decreases 
(b) increases 
(c 
) remains constant 
(d) may increase or decrease 
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