Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

NATS3007 Engineering the future: materials for devices

Module Overview

Materials science is a multidisciplinary area of activity that draws together strands of chemistry, physics and device design and engineering. It underpins the progress of developed and developing societies by providing the functional elements of devices and processes that lead to an improvement in the quality of life. New materials have the potential to deliver substantial environmental and medical benefits, but these are balanced by the environmental and health impact of the processes used in their production.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The application of chemistry and physics drives the development of new materials with enhanced or novel functionality. The unique insight that the physical sciences afford on how to control, synthesise and investigate matter at a molecular scale, provides the conceptual and experimental tools that are at the heart of this area of endeavour. The overall aim of this module is to equip our students with the basic factual knowledge that, together with knowledge acquisition skills and critical thinking skills that will enable them to make independent rational decisions relating to aspects of materials science that impact on their lives in the future. The core of the module will provide an introduction and integrated approach to the key chemistry, physics, design and device engineering concepts that underpin materials science.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • an overview of four key areas of materials use: energy; electronics; sensors; commodity products
  • an understanding of the interplay between materials innovation and device design
  • a sound understanding of the chemistry and physics principles underlying modern materials for energy storage (batteries, photovoltaic cells) and photonic applications (optic fibers, IR sensors)
  • an understanding of current research trends in new materials for energy and photonic applications and how they are likely to develop over the next decade
  • a basic understanding of adventure and innovation in cross-disciplinary research
  • a broad and critical understanding of the expected technological applications that will stem from developments materials science
  • a critical appreciation of the ethical issues and likely societal impacts that are associated with the processes involved in the development and production of novel materials
  • strategies for acquiring, collating, interpreting, evaluating and presenting complex technical information from cutting-edge research publications.


The philosophy underlying this course is to empower students to take charge of their own learning in the area of materials science. As a consequence the course will make extensive use of directed and peer-assisted self-learning methods. The module will be delivered in the context of 3 materials science research targets: • Relationships between material composition/structure and functionality • design of materials with specific combinations of functionality • integration of new materials into devices The course will cover four broad areas: Batteries Topics include: electrochemical processes in batteries; principles of rechargeable batteris; materials for lithium ion batteries; battery construction; microfabricated ‘on chip’ batteries; performance benchmarking of batteries; battery life cycle analysis and environmental impacts Photovoltaics Topics include: principles of light to electricity conversion using inorganic materials; silicon photovoltaics; device architectures; quantum efficiency and performance benchmarking; photonic and nanostructuring; life cycle analysis IR sensors Topics include: pyroelectricity; photoconductor vs photovoltaic materials; synthesis of selected pyroelectric materials; device architectures; benchmarking batteries. Optic Fibers Topics include: principles of light propagation in waveguides and fibres; optical losses; material selection for optical fibres; basic principles of lasers; optic fibre lasers; photonic effects in optic fibres; optic fibre production.

Learning and Teaching

Independent Study100
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 70%
Research proposal 30%
Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.