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Syllabus for

Academic year
KFK176 - Colloid and surface chemistry
Kolloid- och ytkemi
Syllabus adopted 2020-02-05 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: TKBIO
6,0 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: First-cycle
Major subject: Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering

Teaching language: Swedish
Application code: 48112
Open for exchange students: No
Maximum participants: 70
Only students with the course round in the programme plan

Module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0106 Examination 4,5 c Grading: TH   4,5 c   16 Mar 2021 pm J,  08 Jun 2021 am J,  27 Aug 2021 am J
0206 Laboratory 1,5 c Grading: UG   1,5 c    

In programs

TKBIO BIOENGINEERING, Year 2 (compulsory)


Nikola Markovic

  Go to Course Homepage


General entry requirements for bachelor's level (first cycle)
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Specific entry requirements

The same as for the programme that owns the course.
Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling the requirements above.

Course specific prerequisites

Thermodynamics and physical chemistry


To provide a basic understanding of colloid- and surface chemistry relevant for students of biotechnology. The systems are discussed and analyzed from the perspective of physical chemistry, i.e., concepts like intermolecular interaction, entropy and chemical potential are of central importance. The course will also provide increased skills in experimental methodology and technical/scientific reporting.

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

  • provide examples of different types of colloidal systems, describe their properties and explain how they can be studied and characterized
  • define surface energy and surface tension and give examples on how surface tension can be measured, describe the importance of surface tension on the properties of drops and bubbles
  • define the energy of adhesion and cohesion, the spreading coefficient and the contact angle and use these quantities to determine wetting and spreading properties of liquids on surfaces
  • define the surface excess concentration, derive and use Gibbs adsorption isotherm in order to analyze the adsorption of molecules at interfaces, analyze results from surface balance measurements qualitatively and quantitatively in simple cases
  • provide examples of different types of surfactants and methods to experimentally measure and theoretically define the critical micelle concentration (CMC), describe how CMC depends on the chemical structure of the surfactants, additives as well as pressure and temperature
  • describe different lyotrope liquid crystalline systems and provide examples on how they can be studied and characterized
  • explain by which mechanisms a solid surface can be charged and how the electric double layer can be described using the Gouy-Chapman model
  • analyze results from microelectrophoresis experiment
  • be able to quantitatively describe interaction and coagulation in colloidal systems using the DLVO theory and explain how colloids may be stabilized
  • give examples of different types of emulsions, how they are produced, characterized and utilized
  • provide examples of different types of foams, describe their properties in terms of drainage rate, surface elasticity and surface viscosity
  • describe properties of polymers using the model freely jointed chain
  • perform basic laboratory measurements and to analyze, discuss and report the results from these


A number of examples of colloids are provided. Classification, terminology and principles for laboratory production is discussed as well as the connection between colloid and surface chemistry. Examples of different characterization methods are provided. The motion of particles in fluids is discussed (Brownian motion, diffusion, sedimentation). The effect of surface tension on the physical properties of drops and bubbles are discussed (Laplace equation, Kelvin equation) and on wetting of surfaces (Young equation).Gibbs adsorption isotherm is derived and discussed in connection with micelle formation. The properties of monolayers are discussed in connection with the surface balance. The properties of surfactants are discussed in detail focusing on the thermodynamics of micelle formation (CMC, Krafft temperature, hydrophobic interaction,solubilization) and liquid crystalline phases (structure, packing parameters, liposomes). Surface electric properties are discussed starting from the Gouy-Chapman model of the electric double layer. The results are first used to analyze electrokinetic phenomena (the Hückel, Henry and Smoluchowski equations for electrophoretic mobility), and later to describe interaction between colloidal particles usingthe DLVO theory. The DLVO theory is then used to understand colloidal stability (aggregation, Schulze-Hardys rule). The properties of foams (drainage rate, surface elasticity and surface viscosity) and emulsions (HLB-numbers) and microemulsions are also covered. A short discussion of the freely jointed chain model for polymers (measures of size, perfect elastomer) is also included in the course.


Lectures, tutorials, and three laboratory assignments:
  1. Measurement of surface tension using the ring and drop-weight methods
  2. Determination of critical micelle concentration
  3. Microelectrphoresis and zeta-potential


Literature will be announced on the course web page before start of the course.

Examination including compulsory elements

Written exam with computational and theoretical assignments and approved laboratory work.

Page manager Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.