MPhys Physics

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Superconductors and Superfluids

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHYS40451
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


Superconductors and Superfluids


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Statistical Mechanics PHYS20352 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Applications of Quantum Physics PHYS30101 Pre-Requisite Compulsory
Condensed Matter Physics PHYS30051 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


To describe and explain the unique properties of superconductors and superfluids and to show how they exhibit quantum mechanical phenomena on a macroscopic scale.

Learning outcomes

On completion successful students will be able to:
1. Describe and explain the properties of superfluids and superconductors.
2. Use the concepts of ground state, excitations and quantization of velocity circulation and
    magnetic flux.
3. Explain the two-fluid model and apply the equations of superfluid hydrodynamics
4. Explain the electromagnetic properties of superconductors including the Meissner effect and
    the distinction between type I and type II behaviour, including the vortex state.
5. Describe and explain the applications of superconductors.
6. Use Ginzburg-Landau theory and the fundamentals of BCS theory.
7. Explain the DC and RF Josephson effects and use the Josephson equations.


1. Weakly interacting Bose gases, Bose-Einstein condensation, ground state and excitations.

(2 lectures)

2. Liquid 4He and 3He, properties of superfluid 4He, macroscopic wave function, quantized circulation and vortices, excitations, Landau criterion for superfluidity, two-fluid hydrodynamics, first and second sound.

(6 lectures)

3. Microscopic theory of superconductivity, Cooper problem, elements of BCS theory, excitations, thermodynamic properties.

(6 lectures)

4. Superconductors, persistent current and Meissner effect, evidence for energy gap, London  electrodynamics and penetration depth, thermodynamics and critical field.

(4 lectures)

5. Ginzburg-Landau theory and coherence length, type I and type II behaviour, flux quantization, vortex state, flux pinning and applications.

(4 lectures)

6. Weakly coupled superconductors, Josephson effect, dc SQUID and applications.

(2 lectures)

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be available on students' comments on examples sheets, and model answers will be issued. 

Recommended reading

Tilley, D.R. & Tilley, J. Superfluidity and Superconductivity, (Bristol: Hilger 1990);

Annett, J.F. Superconductivity, Superfluids and Condensates (Oxford 2004);

Schmidt, V.V. The Physics of Superconductors:  Introduction to Fundamentals and Applications, (Springer 1997);


Supplementary reading will be suggested throughout the course


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 74.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Andrei Golov Unit coordinator

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