These computer labs were based on the extensive software development effort for the SSS project.

The Solid State Simulation (SSS) Project

The SSS package consists of this set of simulations and the accompanying guidebook, Simulations for Solid State Physics:An Interactive Resource for Students and Teachers .


The simulations were developed at Cornell to provide novel instructional material in senior and graduate level courses in Solid State Physics. Our principal goals were to use the simulations to give a visual route to the development of new concepts and to promote active participation by students as they worked with the material. The simulations use computing resources in two ways. One is to provide animation of processes at the atomic level, e.g., electron motion in metals or atomic motion during dislocation glide. The other is to perform and display the results of numerical calculations, e.g., phonon dispersion relations or space charge distributrion in semiconductor devices. The simulations use a "push button" computer interface and are NOT designed to give exercise in programming or algorithm development. The emphasis is on the illustration of important concepts. A preset system is included which leads the user to the interesting regions of the available parameter space and gives a fun way to become acquainted with a program. Work in depth with the programs is best carried out with the help of the guidebook.


There is so much parameter space available in these programs, much of it not terribly interesting, that guidance through the programs is essential for them to be of use for students unfamiliar with the concepts. Simulations for Solid State Physics:an Interactive Resource for Students and Teachers leads students systematically through the physics illustrated by the programs. Each chapter contains a heavily interleaved mixture of concept development and student exercises. Most exercises, usually involving the simulations, are an intrinsic part of the story line.


A Web-page for the SSS Project may be accessed at The site serves as a place to exchange suggestions for new ways to use the simulations, as well as work-arounds for the problems that are bound to arise. Updates and bug-fixes will be posted on the site.

We may also be reached by e-mail at

Information about ordering the SSS package from the publisher is available at: (Cambridge University Press-U.S.), or University Press-Rest of World).


The development of these simulations was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, thanks to the initiative, and with the strong encouragement, of Frank Mayadas. Thanks go to Russ Thompson for the adoption of tcl/tk as a graphical interface for the programs and for the programming of a standard user interface to ease the development of future programs. He performed much of the conversion to tcl-tk from an earlier version as well as writing the newer programs. In connection with this, we would also like to thank the Tcl/Tk Project for providing an excellent windowing toolkit that is portable across Unix, Windows, and Macintosh computers. Dan Vernon helped with much of the conversion of programs to the newer interface. Barry Robinson ported the programs to a number of platforms and has accomplished the impossible in getting the programs for Unix, Windows, and Mac all to work from a single CD. Jim Sethna's Ising program stimulated the initiation of the project and he has contributed critical ideas and enthusiasm. Bruce Roberts was always available to share his invaluable expertise to get us out of one hole after another.

Use Policy

These simulations are part of the Solid State Simulation (SSS) package, copyright by Cambridge University Press. Publication and ordering information, is available from (Cambridge University Press-U.S.), or University Press-Rest of World).

If you are not a licensed user of these programs, feel free to use them for inspection and trial. If you plan to make any significant use of the programs, you should buy the full package, Solid State Simulation: An Interactive Resource for Students and Teachers, Cambridge University Press, which includes a full CD-ROM with an accompanying guide book. Because of the extensive parameter space available for exploration, the guide book is essential for efficient use of the programs. Using many exercises and examples coupled to the simulations it is designed to illustrate important physical principles and to develop new concepts.

The CD-ROM, packaged with the hardback copy of the book (SBN--0-521-59094-9), includes a license to use the software on a local area network. It also includes registration details so that you can be informed of new versions or additional simulations. Softcover copies (SBN-0-521-59911-3), without the CD-ROM, are available at minimal cost for students to purchase and use in conjunction with the software installed on a local area network.

All royalties from the sale of the SSS materials will be used to maintain the Web site at, to provide bug fixes as best we can, and to upgrade the programs for as long as the user community shows sufficient interest.

Bob Silsbee and Joerg Draeger

Click on the home button at the top of the page to return to the main help menu. This works from any page in the help system!

Statistical Mechanics: Entropy, Order Parameters, and Complexity, now available at Oxford University Press (USA, Europe).