Module Overview

Vacuum Tech 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.

Module Code

PHYS 3831

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

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 microscopy,

• 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

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.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination35
Other Assessment(s)65