MTE2541 - Crystal structures, thermodynamics and phase equilibria - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Neil Cameron


Associate Professor Noel Rutter

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


MSC2011, MTE2501


Bonding: atomic/molecular arrangement. Crystal systems: directions and planes, stereographic projection; metallic, ionic and ceramic crystals. Defects; vacancies and interstitials; dislocations; stacking faults, twin and grain boundaries. Thermodynamics: condensed systems; entropy, Gibbs free energy; ideal and non-ideal solutions; surface energy and microstructure. Phase equilibria and microstructures: Gibbs phase rule; free energy diagrams; phase diagrams; deviations from ideality, phase separation; ordering; eutectic, eutectoid, peritectic and peritectoid reactions; non-equilibrium microstructures, implications for physical properties.


On successful completion of this course students will:

  1. Understand the definitive characteristics of the key classes of materials and their origins in electronic structure, bonding and atomic/molecular arrangement;
  2. Have a thorough knowledge of elementary crystallography, including crystal lattices, elements of symmetry, crystal systems and their representation
  3. Recognise common prototype structures for metallic, ionic and ceramic crystals, and possess an understanding of the factors influencing the development of these structures
  4. Understand the geometry, crystallography and elastic properties of common crystal defects, and their effects on crystal properties
  5. Understand the derivation of binary and ternary alloy phase diagrams from the laws of thermodynamics, in particular the free energy concept, including positive and negative deviations from ideality
  6. Appreciate the concepts of equilibrium between multiple phases in binary alloy systems and their embodiment in Gibbs' Phase Rule and the concept of chemical potential
  7. Understand the microstructures to be expected for various binary material systems exhibiting, in particular, complete solid solubility, the eutectic, eutectoid, peritectic or peritectoid reactions
  8. Appreciate aspects of microstructure controlling solid solubility and the role of surfaces and interfaces in controlling microstructures
  9. Possess an elementary grasp of the consequences of nonequilibrium in binary systems
  10. Appreciate the influence of microstructures on some physical properties
  11. Have become familiar with the resources of a Library for acquiring information of specific interest to a Materials Engineer
  12. Have gained basic laboratory skills applied to study the microstructure of materials
  13. Have an ability to communicate within a team in carrying out laboratory work
  14. Have an ability to keep accurate laboratory records and to prepare a formal report on an experiment.


Assignments: 30%

Laboratory work: 20%

Written examination: (2 hours) 50%

Students are required to achieve at least 45% in the total continuous assessment component (assignments, tests, mid-semester exams, laboratory reports) and at least 45% in the final examination component and an overall mark of 50% to achieve a pass grade in the unit. Students failing to achieve this requirement will be given a maximum of 45% in the unit.

Workload requirements

3 hours lecture/tutorial, 1 hour laboratory and 8 hours of private study per week.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Materials science