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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
TIF120 - Surface and nanophysics
Syllabus adopted 2014-02-19 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPAPP
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Engineering Physics
Department: 16 - PHYSICS

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0107 Project 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    

In programs

MPAPP APPLIED PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Docent  Christoph Langhammer
Forskarassistent  Timur Shegai


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

Knowledge about crystal structure, diffraction, lattice waves in periodic structures and related thermal properties, free electron theory of metals, the energy band structure with applications to metals, semiconductors and insulators for bulk 3D systems at the level of a fundamental solid state physics course is the recommended background. Furthermore some basic knowledge of statistical physics is welcome.


To provide the student a concept-oriented introduction to the field of surface physics and nanophysics with particular emphasis on static and dynamic properties.

To familiarize the student with central unifying concepts and experimental as well as theoretical tools needed for understanding the properties of surfaces and nanoparticles.

To highlight the importance of symbiosis between experimental and theoretical approaches in the surface and nanophysics area.

To introduce the key physical concepts of plasmonic excitations at surfaces and in nanostructures, as well as give an overview of their applications.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

  • explain the basic concepts to describe phenomena that are responsible for the importance of surface physics and nanophysics in modern science and technology.

  • name and explain some of the most important experimental and theoretical methods commonly used to assess and describe the properties of surfaces and nanoparticles.
  • apply theoretical reasoning to account for experimental observations of properties and processes at surfaces and in/on nanoparticles.
  • explain the key phenomena for the interaction of light with metal surfaces and nanoparticles, and discuss their implications for applications in the field of plasmonics and nanooptics.


The topics of the course are chosen to establish the basic concepts to describe phenomena that are responsible for the importance of surface physics and nanophysics in modern science and technology. We will also present some topics related to the current research in these areas within the Department of Applied Physics at Chalmers and Department of Physics at GU as well as the most important recent work in this field appearing in international journals.

We expect that the students who have successfully completed the course are able to apply theoretical reasoning to account for experimental observations, and to build simple physical models for properties and processes studied. The specific topics covered in the course are:

  • geometric and electronic properties of clean and adsorbate-covered surfaces.

  • an introduction to density functional theory and kinetic modeling.

  • scanning probes for microscopy, spectroscopy and manipulation of nanoobjects.

  • adsorption phenomena and dynamic processes at surfaces.

  • quantum dots and quantum wells.

  • clusters, nanotubes and nanoparticles on surfaces.
  • plasmonic excitations at surfaces and in nanoparticles and their applications.


The course is based on a series of lectures, 4 hours per week, covering the topics listed above and a project work, which is presented in a written report and at a minisyposium of project presentations.


The following books are recommended (not compulsory) for the course:

  • Zangwill A.; "Physics at Surfaces", Cambridge University Press, New York 1988.

  • I. Chorkendorff and J. W. Niemantsverdriet "Concepts of Modern Catalysis and Kinetics, Willey-VCH, 2003.

  • Kolasinski K. W.; "Surface Science", J. Wiley&Sons Ltd, 2002.

  • S. Holloway and J. Norskov, "Bonding at Surfaces", Liverpool University Press.

  • Stefan A. Maier, Plasmonics  Fundamentals and Applications, Springer 2007.

  • Lecture notes will be distributed in class.


Part 1: A project work on a topic listed on the course home
page, which has to be presented in both written (2-3 pages) and oral (10 min
presentation) form at a minisymposium at the end of the course. The project has
to be carried out in groups 2 students. Each group will also act as "reviewer"
of two of the projects from fellow students by reading their report and
preparing questions for the project discussion at the minisymposium.

Part 2: Quizzes of 10-15 minutes at the
beginning of every 4-hour lecture block covering the topics presented at the
lectures the week before.

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.