Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code CHEM326
Coordinator Prof MO Persson
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2016-17 Level 6 FHEQ Second Semester 15

Pre-requisites before taking this module (or general academic requirements):

Completion of year 2 of either an MChem or a BSc(Hons) Chemistry Programme or another such approved programme  


The aims of this module are to provide students with the essential physical concepts that are required to understand nanoscale systems, and to enable them to study and understand interdisciplinary topics at the interface between chemistry and physics, in particular in nanotechnology. It is meant to enable them to engage successfully in interdisciplinary dialogue when working in the field of Nanotechnology. This implies knowledge of topics that require more understanding of physics than can be expected of a usual chemist. Bridging this gap is achieved by studying selected examples from nanotechnology. Mechanical, optical, magnetic and electronic properties of matter are studied on the nanometre scale down to single molecules and atoms. For each example, particular emphasis is given to the understanding of how these properties change as a function of size. This module will also be useful for chemistry students who wish to broa den their physics background, for example, to enable a better understanding of modern spectroscopic techniques, microelectronics or solid state chemistry.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Apply basic physics to elucidate the properties and behaviour of nanoscale devices, small objects and molecules.
  • Relate quantum effects (e.g. size dependence of band gap) to the underlying physics.
  • Describe the function of resistors, capacitors, diodes and transistors down to the scale of atoms and molecules.
  • Relate quantitatively the capabilities of scanning tunneling microscopy to the underlying concept of tunneling.
  • Relate magnetic phenomena to basic concepts of spin and magnetic moments.
  • Relate the optical properties of nanoparticles to their size, shape and composition.
  • Apply basic Mie theory to estimate optical properties of gold nanoparticles
  • Estimate t he efficiency of Brownian motion to move nanoscale objects
  • Discuss the role of thermal fluctuations in nanoscale mechanics experiments.
  • Describe the electronic structure of solids

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -

Tutorial -



Section A, 6 Lectures (DLC)

- Introduction: the mechanics of small objects and molecules (one lecture)

- Revision: kinetic energy, momentum, angular momentum, conservation laws, Newton''s axioms (one lecture)

- Fields (gravitational, electric, magnetic), relations between Force, Energy, Potential and Field Strength (one lecture)

- vibrations and waves (mechanic and electromagnetic), Hooke''s law, classical wave equations (DLC, one lecture)

- The Schrödinger Equation revisited (one lecture)

- The particle in the box revisited (DLC, one lecture)

Section B, 12 Lectures (MP)

- Probability of finding a particle in a volume element and tunneling phenomena, basic understanding of STM (three lectures)

- Electricity: charge, dipole, potential, dielectric constant, current, Ohm''s law, resistors, capacitors, circuits (three lectures)

- Electronics: diodes, transistors, digital logic (elementary) (three lectures)

- Solid state physics: insulators, semiconductors, metals, Fermi function, band model (three lectures)

Section C, 12 Lectures (RL)

- Magnetism: induction, the magnetic moment, magnetic flux, spin, diamagetism, paramagnetism, superparamagnetism in small particles, ferroma gnetism. (three lectures)

- Optics: refractive index in relation to dielectric constant, basic laws of optics, light scattering (Raleigh, Mie), optical and electron microscopy, lithography (three lectures)

- Nanoscale specialities: Brownian motion, quantised capacitance charging, the role of kT, noise, size limitations for conventional circuitry, quantum-size-effects. (three lectures)

- The physics of soft matter, AFM, force spectroscopy, biological systems (three lectures)

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List:

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 30


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 114


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Written Exam  3 hours  Second  75  August resit opportunity for PGT students only, where applicable. See notes    Assessment 2 Notes (applying to all assessments) three pieces of assessed work (problems) (DLC 5%, RL 10%, MP 10%) This work is not marked anonymously Written Examination Year 3 (and Year 4) students resit at the next normal opportunity.  
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Coursework    Second  25  according to University policy  Standard University Policy applies - see Department/School handbook for details.  Assessment 1