Search course

Use the search function to find more information about the study programmes and courses available at Chalmers. When there is a course homepage, a house symbol is shown that leads to this page.

Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
TIF120 - Surface and nanophysics
Syllabus adopted 2017-02-18 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPAPP
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Fail
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

  Go to Course Homepage


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 and describe the key 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  Physics at Chalmers .

The specific topics covered chronologically in the course are:

  • General introduction to surfaces: what is a surface and what makes
    it special? How do we experimentally address surfaces and how do we keep
    them clean?
  • Electronic Structure of surfaces and nanoparticles and how it
    dictates how surfaces interact with molecules, for example during a
    catalytic reaction.
  • Physisorption and Chemisorption of molecules on surfaces ¿ the first two critical steps in any surface process and reaction.
  • How to make nanostructures and nanoparticles using bottom-up and
    top-down methods such as colloidal synthesis and nanolithography,
  • Nanooptics and nanoplasmonics fundamentals or how to control matter-light interactions at the nanoscale.
  • Quantum plasmonics or how quantum effects become important when
    light interacts with nanoparticles. Examples from research at Chalmers
    in Timur Shegai's research group.
  • How to use localized surface plasmons as nanoscale sensors and
    enhancers of catalytic reactions on nanoparticles. Examples from
    research at Chalmers in Christoph Langhammer's research group.


The course is based on a series of lectures covering the topics listed
above, a project work, which is presented in a written report and at a
minisyposium of project presentations, and two
compulsory 2-hour labs on the topics of surface science and


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 covered during the lectures, which is comprised of reading and summarizing a recent scientific article on the topic. The project work has to be presented in both written (2 pages summary) 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: Bonus quizzes of 10 minutes at the
beginning of every 2-hour lecture block covering the topics presented at the
previous 2-hour lecture block.

The maximum grade you can get from the project work (report + presentation counted 50/50) is
4. To get grade 5 for the course, you must participate in the bonus quizzes and score above the threshold defined at the beginning o fthe course.

Participation in the labs is compulsory but not graded.

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.