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Syllabus for

Academic year
TIF120 - Surface and nanophysics  
Yt- och nanofysik
Syllabus adopted 2020-02-11 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPPHS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Engineering Physics
Department: 16 - PHYSICS

Teaching language: English
Application code: 85123
Open for exchange students: Yes
Block schedule: A+
Maximum participants: 30

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

In programs

MPPHS PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 2 (elective)
MPPHS PHYSICS, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Christoph Langhammer

  Go to Course Homepage


General entry requirements for Master's level (second 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

English 6 (or by other approved means with the equivalent proficiency level)
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

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. Basic knowledge of statistical physics is beneficial but not absolutely necessary.


To provide the student a concept-oriented introduction to the fields 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 for both research and technology development.

To introduce the fundamental 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 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?
Advanced electron microscopy of surfaces and nanoparticles.

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.

How to use localized surface plasmons as nanoscale sensors and
enhancers of catalytic reactions on nanoparticles.


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 on three
compulsory labs on the topics of surface science, electron microscopy and nanoplasmonics, for
which a lab report has to be written individually.


The following books are recommended (but 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 and constitute the basis for the learning in preparation of the quizzes

Examination including compulsory elements

Project report, project presentation, lab reports and non-compulsory quizzes with which bonus points can be earned.

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2016.