Module Overview


This module is comprised of three distinct sections:

A: Chemical & Spectroscopic Techniques for Nanoscience

B: Vacuum Techniques for Nanoscience

C: Kinetics, Thermodynamics & Electrochemistry



A: Chemical & Spectroscopic Techniques for Nanoscience

The preparation and characterisation of nanostructured materials in the form of thin films, nanoparticles and bulk structures demands specialized chemical techniques to facilitate size, shape and structural control. Equally so specialized physical techniques are required to the structural, physical and chemical analysis with a sufficient resolution. Consequently, specialised characterisation techniques are required besides the standard techniques available to materials science. This module explores a number of these preparation and characterisation techniques and highlights to the student the fabrication pathways adopted and how conventional analysis techniques can be altered to characterise nanostructured systems. The aim of this module is to expose the student to a variety of preparation and characterisation techniques for nanostructured materials.

B: Vacuum Techniques for Nanoscience

Nanoscience requires a broad range of materials manufacturing and analysis techniques. Many modern production industries from semiconductor fabrication to medical devices employ vacuum technology and vacuum-based processing systems for various reasons. This course will first introduce the fundamentals of vacuum technology and system design and will then proceed to look at a broad range of applications of vacuum technology for materials processing as well as related techniques which may not be vacuum based. Applications include introductory surface physics, materials analysis techniques including scanning probe microscopies, plasma technology in industry and chemical and physical growth techniques. Topical examples of structures are used wherever possible.

C: Kinetics, Thermodynamics & Electrochemistry

The aim of this module is to build on the physical chemistry taken in second year of this course. The module will introduce the students to the kinetics of complex reactions, combustion chemistry and reactions in solution. In addition the module is designed to extend the student’s knowledge of thermodynamics, including methods by which thermodynamic data may be derived and applied. Also there will be an introduction to electrochemistry and its application in electroanalytical techniques. In this regard, the diagnosis of adsorption, diffusion and kinetic controlled regimes, at solid electrodes, will be introduced.

Module Code

PHYS 3004

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

A: Chemical & Spectroscopic Techniques for Nanoscience

Nanoparticle Fabrication

• Top Down vs Bottom up Approaches,

• Nucleation & Crystal Growth, La Mer Model,

• Physical Preparation Routes,

• Chemical Preparation Routes incl Sol-gel, Reagent reservoirs, Arc Discharge,

• Molecular Self Assembly & Templated Synthesis,

• Nanostructured Films.

Particle sizing

• Dynamic light scattering, Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (PCS),

• Static light scattering- Fraunhofer / Mie Theory,

• Electron Microscopy – SEM / TEM / HRTEM / EDX,

• Diffraction techniques – Electron diffraction, powder X-Ray Diffraction, neutron diffraction techniques. Scherrer


Spectroscopy of nanostructures

• Molecular Absorption Spectroscopy in nanostrutures and semiconductors,

• Application of Photoluminescence to nanostructures,

• Single molecule spectroscopy,

• Surface enhance Raman spectroscopy SERS,

• Fluorescence resonance energy transfer FRET,

• Single photon counting spectroscopy SPC /time correlated photon counting,

• Total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy (TIRFM),

• Confocal Microscopy.


B: Vacuum Techniques for Nanoscience

Part 1 and Part 2 : Vacuum Physics

• Gas fundamentals & kinetic theory,

• Classification of vacuum,

• Gas sources in a chamber, gas flow regimes, gas flow in real systems and pipes,

• Vacuum materials and sealing techniques,

• The pumping process,

• Vacuum pumps, pressure measurement,

• Mass spectrometry and system analysis, good vacuum practice.

Part 3: Surface Physics, SPM, and other analysis techniques

• Concepts of surface physics, defining the surface, generating clean surfaces,

• Molecular basics, bonding, binding topologies,

• Thin film growth modes,

• Surface reconstruction,

• Electron diffraction techniques, electron microscopy,

• Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques: atomic, magnetic force microscopies, scanning Tunneling


• Atomic manipulation and surface modification by SPM.

Part 4:

• Plasmas in the Industrial context

• Introduction to plasmas in the industrial context,

• RF Power, DC sources, microwave sources and plasma generation,

• Plasma-surface interactions / plasma chemistry,

• Plasma processing, damage, sputtering, etching, ashing, deposition, implantation,

• Specific processing, manipulating friction, material hardness, biomaterial treatment.

Part 5: Nanofabrication

• Nanofabrication,

• Preparation of nanostructures,

• Surface transport methods, introduction to lithography,

• Overview of insulation, metalisation, doping,

• Molecular beam epitaxy, beam sources, growth rate monitoring, MBE applications.


C: Kinetics, Thermodynamics & Electrochemistry

Chemical kinetics

Consecutive reactions. Steady state approximation. Classification of elementary free radical reactions. Non chain linear chain and branched chain reactions. Introduction to photochemical kinetics. Reversible reactions experimental techniques, theories of reaction rates. Determination of Arrhenius parameters. Reactions in solution. Homogeneous catalysis. Michaelis Menten mechanism for enzyme catalysis.


Concept of free energy. The second law of thermodynamics and applications. Gibbs and Helmholtz free energies. Van’t Hoff isochore. Introduction to the third law of thermodynamics. Determination and uses of thermodynamic data in applied situations.

Dynamic electrochemistry

Mass transport modes. Diagnosis of diffusion and adsorption limited regimes at an electrode surface. Electrode kinetics, Voltammetry: reversible, quasi reversible and irreversible systems. Electrochemistry as an analytical tool.

A combination of techniques will be employed as appropriate to each element of the module content including lectures, discussion, problem-solving sessions, self learning and experimental observation.


Laboratory sessions will be run concurrently with PHYS3003, CHEM 3001, CHEM 3004, and PHYS 3830

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination70
Other Assessment(s)30