10 - Electron transport properties in periodic systems (I)  pp. 249-292

Electron transport properties in periodic systems (I)

By Uichiro Mizutani

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Electron transport properties can be investigated by measuring the response of conduction electrons to a temperature gradient or to external fields such as an electric field, a magnetic field, or a combination of these applied to a specimen. In this chapter, we study basic transport properties with subsequent derivation of the Boltzmann transport equation. The electrical conductivity is then formulated in the light of the Boltzmann transport equation. The temperature-dependent electrical resistivity expression known as the Baym resistivity formula is derived by taking into account the electron–phonon interaction and is applied to obtain the well-known Bloch–Grüneisen law for a crystal metal. The remaining transport properties including the thermal conductivity, the thermoelectric power, the Hall effect and the magnetoresistance will be discussed in Chapter 11.

The Drude theory for electrical conductivity

In Chapter 2, we learned that electrons on the Fermi surface in a metal like Na carry a Fermi wave number kF of the order of a few 10 nm-1, which is converted to a Fermi velocity vF of approximately 106 m/s through the relation vF=ħkF/m. In spite of such high velocities of electrons on the Fermi surface, no electrical current can flow, unless an electric field is applied. The reason for this is that the Fermi surface is always symmetric with respect to the origin in reciprocal space and that there always exists an electron with -vF for the electron with vF. Obviously, a current flows only when the applied field displaces the Fermi sphere from the origin and its symmetrical geometry breaks.