Module Overview

Advanced Nanotechnology Topics

The aim of this module is to introduce students to some advanced topics in nanotechnology, at a research level, and to expose the student to critical reading of research papers. Students will be presented with a series of lecture topics based on research papers. Each lecture will deal with the latest developments in the given area.

The topics offered will vary yearly but typically will include, Nanotoxicology, Spintronics, Plasmonics, Conducting Polymers, TiO2 nanotechnology, Silver Particle Nanotechnology, Quantum cryptography and computation. Nanoscale Temperature Effects. Friction and Forces. Carbon Materials. Molecular Electronics and Nanosensors.

Not all of these topics will be offered in any one year. Each year five main topic areas will be covered, as decided by the Programme Committee. New topics will be introduced, as appropriate.

Module Code

PHYS 4841

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Typical content for topics is outlined below.



Nanotoxicology is a rapidly emerging area of nanoscience, it combines the physiochemical characterisation and the determination of bio-molecular interactions with traditional toxicological techniques in order to formulate a valid nanomaterial risk assessment. Currently no valid risk assessment of any nanomaterial, nanoparticle or nano-structured surface exists. Thus the incorporation of nanomaterials into consumer products to many is a cause for concern, with the environmental and health impacts currently undefined. The knowledge gaps predominantly concern the exposure risks associated with nanomaterials with key research questions including:

  • The impact of nanotechnology on human health and the environment?
  • The lack of methods to ensure traceability of nanoparticles and procedures for the characterisation and measurement of nanoparticles;
  • Methods for the safe and effective disposal of used, unused or waste nanoparticles
  • The bioavailability and fate of nanoparticles within the human body and animals;
  • Development of methods to investigate the potential toxicity of nanoparticles in vitro and in vivo and the underlying mechanisms of nanoparticle toxicity;
  • The stability/lability of nanoparticles in various matrices and their potential interactions with bio-molecules.

This advance topic will build on the Stage two module reinforcing the importance of this area and updating students on the latest nanotoxicology research, in doing so it will address a number of the key question highlighted above using a relevant recent research paper as a focal point.



Conventional electronics operate on the principle of the transport of an electrons charge from one place to another. Spintronics, or Spin Transport Electronics, involves the manipulation and transport of an electrons spin and associated magnetic moment, as well as its charge. As electronic devices such as computers are reaching a developmental wall where further performance increases are becoming increasingly difficult, spintronics offers new avenues of development that can overcome this wall. It offers new approaches to familiar designs such as computer memory (IBM's Racetrack Memory and hard drives that exploit Giant or Colossal Magneto resistance for higher storage densities), and also assists the development of more exotic technologies like quantum computing.


TiO2 Nanotechnology

Current developments and optimization strategies of principles of dye-sensitized solar cells/photocatalysts based on the fundamentals of their operation. Synthetic/characterization techniques used in the development of the nanomolecular components of these materials.


Conducting Polymers

Types of conducting polymers. Synthetic methods. Electrochromism. Electrochemical methods of studying these layers. Voltammetry. Models for cyclic voltammograms. Spectroelectrochemistry. Electronic transitions associated with the various states. Discussion of recent progress in the field. J.M.Pringle et al. ‘Conducting polymer nanoparticles synthesized in an ionic liquid by chemical polymerization. Synthetic metals, 156, (1209) 979-983.


Quantum Cryptography and Computation

  • Quantum measurement,
  • Classical cryptography,
  • Quantum cryptography principles,
  • Quantum cryptography implementation in optical systems,
  • Quantum logic gates,
  • Quantum computation.


Nanoscale Temperature effects

  • Statistical thermodynamics and its limitations,
  • The effects of size on heat capacity and conductance,
  • The problems of drift for nanoscale study and for device manufacture at the nanoscale.


Friction and Forces

  • Macroscopic friction overview,
  • Macro to micro to nano friction – the various processes of friction as a function of length scale,
  • Slip/stick processes at the molecular level,
  • Adhesion & Pinning,
  • Electronic forces, London and van der Walls forces, magnetic forces, triboelectrification,
  • Colloidal forces, capillary forces and liquid adhesion,
  • Quantised friction,
  • Observing and measuring friction,
  • Measuring and Adjusting Wear,
  • 2D friction,
  • Friction Force Microscopy & Tomlinson’ Mechanism,
  • Nanolubrication,
  • Casimir effect.


Carbon Materials

  • Bonding structure and hybridisation in carbon,
  • Graphitic materials,
  • Carbon fibre,
  • Carbynes,
  • Amorphous carbon,
  • Diamond,
  • Diamond like carbon.



  • Structure and symmetry of Fullerenes,
  • Structure of molecular C60, (Euler’s theorem and isolated pentagonal rule),
  • Symmetry considerations,
  • Structure and symmetry of solid state C60,
  • Phases transitions and associated models.


Carbon Nanotubes

  • Structure of single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT),
  • Electronic structure of single walled carbon nanotubes,
  • Production and purification methods,
  • Properties and applications,
  • Other Nanotubes,
  • Other topics may be included.

The students will be presented a series of (extended) seminars (or online webinars) on a set of pre-defined advanced nanotechnology topics. In each topic the students will be given a recent research paper in the field, which will form the basis of further detailed research and study on their part.


The research paper will be of length 4-8 journal pages, including references, and will have been published in the previous four years.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination100