3 Jul 2010

Solids and Surfaces: A Chemist's View of Bonding in Extended Structures


Submitted by Maggie Geselbracht, Reed College

By Roald Hoffmann

Wiley-VCH, 1989

152 pages, ISBN: 978-0-471-18710-3


This short and very readable text explains the basic tools of band theory for extended solids beginning from a chemist's description of molecular orbital theory.  Roald Hoffmann introduces the language and terminology used by solid state physics but draws analogies where appropriate to similar concepts in chemistry and points out the conclusions that chemists care most about, describing the structure and bonding in many different examples of extended solids.  He begins with pseudo-one-dimensional materials like a polymeric chain of hydrogen atoms or tetracyanoplatinates in the solid state.  The electronic structure of two-dimensional solids are explored through a case study of orbital interactions between CO and a nickel surface.  And three-dimensional extended structures are introduced through several examples such as TiO2 and ThCr2Si2.  I find this text is one of the best to succinctly cover the important concepts in band theory in far greater detail than the inorganic textbooks.  I use it in my Advanced Inorganic Chemistry course after we have worked extensively with molecular orbital theory, typically spending about 2 weeks to discuss the highlights of the book (although I admit that I usually skip surfaces for lack of time).  I find that in general, this text provides undergraduate students with a solid background in the electronic structure of solids, enabling them to tackle most papers from the literature that include E vs. k or density of states diagrams.  In the related activities linked below, I have provided one example of a paper from the literature that I have used in a class discussion to cap off our discussion of solids.


The only negative about this text is the high cost and the fact that it frequently goes in and out of print.  But students are often able to find used copies for reasonable prices, and we have several copies that I put on reserve in the library.  Hoffmann wrote a number of papers in the literature that do contain a lot of this information, but nowhere is it put together so completely as found in this book.

Related activities: 


At the suggestion of one of our physical chemists, I also used this text to cover band theory in my Advanced Inorganic Course.  I found it to be very useful and presented it right after covering MOs like Maggie did.  I did not require students to buy a copy, but rather just used it to organize how I presented the topic in class.  I would recommend it for any chemist who wants to understand band theory better.  As a bioinorganic person, this is certainly not my area of expertise, but this book certainly increased my understanding.

Well, if it is not for required for undergraduates, I think it is a must for any graduate student dabbling in the field of solid state chemistry.  I reread it for fun.  When I attended the GRC one of the invited speakers quoted the book, and then presented the corresponding figure which was photocopied from the book.  It is a powerful little book, more like an intimate conversation than a textbook.  Seriously.  The book clearly describes the relationship between the local structure and the band structure, always reiterating their relationship.  Kind of like this post in regards to that book.

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