John Ziman

I’ve learnt more from John Ziman’s books on electronic structure, phonons, and disorder, than from any other single source. This is a little guide to his academic works.

1979 - “Models of disorder”. Though his most recent book, from the printing you would assume it was from the 50s! This is the only real attempt to write a textbook summarising all approaches to disorder in electronic structure modelling. As a pioneer of liquid metals, this was his area of expertise. In many ways it is woefully out of date. But it is (still) the only complete summary of the field, and very useful. Without fast computers, effective medium theories are the only tool for this non analytic problems, which are developed with increasing tiers of sophistication and approximation. It’s the only proper description of the motivation and construction of the coherent potential approximation which I know of. If you work in the electronic structure of disordered materials you would be foolhardy not to own this book.

1964/1971 - “Principles of the Theory of Solids” - 2nd edition (1971) is a considerably improved version of the 1st edition (1964). Undergraduate level electronic structure, but extremely readable and insightful, and with carefully penned diagrams often more informative than today’s computer generated masterpieces.

1971 - The Calculation of Bloch Functions A comprehensive and thorough review of the state of the art of electronic structure calculations in 1971, from LCAO, the Cellular method, Pseudopotentials and Orthogonalised Plane Waves, then into Augmented Plane Waves (Muffin Tin) and the KKR method. Again, though from the year you would imagine it woefully out of date, it is extremely clear and useful.

1969 - “Elements of advanced quantum theory”. The most clear introduction to more advanced QM concepts I know of, assuming an undergraduate physics degree level of understanding . Ziman’s description of quantum theory as being a Ziggurat of insurmountable cliffs unlocking plains of understanding is fantastic. In this book he covers creation + annihilation operators for Bosons, then Fermions, into ‘classical’ perturbation theory, then S-matrix scattering, through to Green’s Functions, a chapter on what we’d now class as Electronic Structure theory (Thomas Fermi DFT, Hartree Fock, Random Phase Approximation, Dielectric Response, Superconductors), a chapter on relativistic treatment, and finishing with a group theory summary. A true delight, and readily available as a well printed paperback.

1962 - “Electrons in metals: A short guide to the Fermi surface” - A long review article, a fantastic ~few hour read guide to electronic structure, and a great introduction to whether you will like Ziman’s writing style.

1960 - “Electrons and Phonons: The Theory of Transport Phenomena in Solids”. The bible for electron-phonon interaction. All the examples are carefully worked. The only critique I have is that it so predates fast digital computers that the possibility of being able to calculate matrix elements with brute force isn’t on the horizon. As such, a lot of detailed derivations stop halfway through & start making coarse approximations.

Michael Berry & John Nye’s biography is a very interesting read which also details his non-physics publications and interests.

Jarvist Moore Frost
Electronic structure theory