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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Microstructural Evolution of Materials Part 1: Statistical Mechanics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX


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.



  • 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

Taught by

Juejun Hu and Jessica Sandland


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

Start your review of Microstructural Evolution of Materials Part 1: Statistical Mechanics

  • Igor Kolupaev
    Concise and quite consistent, the author says little, but one wishes he had said more. The appendices are used very effectively. A solid basis for development. Thank you.Useful & Helpful

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