Professional Course

Microstructural Evolution of Materials Part 1: Statistical Mechanics

edX, Online
5 weeks
49 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
5 weeks
49 USD
Next course start
Start anytime See details
Self-paced Online
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Course description

Microstructural Evolution of Materials Part 1: Statistical Mechanics

This module is Part 1 of a four-part series on the Microstructural Evolution in Materials. Taken together, these four modules provide similar content to the MIT Course 3.022: Microstructural Evolution of Materials.

This series introduces various kinetic phenomena in various classes of materials. The course explains how materials develop different microstructure based on different processing techniques, and it relates these microstructures to the properties of the material.

Microstructural Evolution of Materials is intended for engineering and science students and professionals with an interest in materials statistics, kinetics, and microstructural transformations.

Part 1 of the course will introduce important concepts in statistical mechanics that are especially relevant to materials scientists. Topics include solid solutions, the canonical ensemble and heat capacity.

Part 2 of the course focuses on point defect evolution, including diffusion, substitutional diffusion, ionic defects, and ionic conductivity.

Part 3 of the course discusses surfaces and surface-driven reactions. Topics include surface energy, faceted and non-faceted growth, and growth and ripening.

Part 4 of the course focuses on phase transformations, including nucleation and growth, precipitate growth, interface stability, and glass transition.

Upcoming start dates

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  • Self-paced Online
  • Online
  • English

Who should attend?


  • University-level Calculus
  • Structure of Materials (Ideally, 3.012Sx: Structure of Materials
  • Thermodynamics (ideally, 3.012Tx: Thermodynamics of Materials)

Training content


  • What is an ensemble?
  • The Microcanonical Ensemble
  • Fluctuations in a System
  • Statistical Interpretations of Entropy

Solid Solutions

  • Particle Distinguishability
  • Gibbs Theorem
  • Ideal Solid Solutions and Ideal Gasses
  • Regular Binary Solution Theory
  • Determining Phase Composition in Binary Solution

Canonical Ensemble

  • Deriving the Canonical Distribution for N=5
  • Deriving the Canonical Distribution
  • The Partition Function

Canonical Ensemble: Application

  • Example: Effect of Gravitational Force on Gas Density
  • Example: Paramagnetism Materials

Heat Capacity

  • Heat Capacity of an Ideal Gas
  • Heat Capacity of Atomic Solids
  • The Debye Model

Course delivery details

This course is offered through Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a partner institute of EdX.

8-10 hours per week


  • Verified Track -$49
  • Audit Track - Free

Certification / Credits

What you'll learn

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the entropy of a solid solution from a quantum mechanical perspective
  • Understand the trends in heat capacity of a monatomic gas and an atomic solid
  • Use the canonical distribution to explain both the effect of gravitational force on the density of a gas and the origin of Curie’s law of paramagnetism

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