The University of Southampton

PHYS6014 Nanoscience: technology and advanced materials

Module Overview

This course will focus on nanomaterials, chemical synthesis and technological developments. This is a multidisciplinary module provided by the Schools of Chemistry (HE3) and Physics (HE4). The course will consist of 20 lectures plus the equivalent of four lectures for independent study. Students will be given non-assessed problems sheets and are expected to solve these in their own time. They will also be given some directed reading.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this course is to provide students with a background in nanotechnology and its applications in biomedical and physical sciences by focusing on selected research topics within these areas. This will provide students with a basic knowledge and grounding in cutting edge research being undertaken within this field.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Demonstrate understanding techniques of microscopy for investigations on the nanometre and atomic scales
  • Acquire knowledge of basic approaches to synthesize inorganic colloidal nanoparticles and their self-assembly in solution and surfaces
  • Understand and describe the use of unique optical properties of nanoscale metallic structures for analytical and biological applications
  • Recognise the value of oligonucleotides when applied to antigen, antisense and SiRNA technologies
  • Understand the the physical and chemical properties of carbon nanotubes and nanostructured mesoporous materials.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to critically evaluate nanotechnology concepts and therefore be equipped to delve deeper into nanotechnology research


Lecture Content - Introduction to nanotechnology: Moore’s law, silicon microfabrication techniques such as photolithography/electron beam lithography and their advantages and limitations, importance of nanotechnology and its potential impacts, historical milestones in nanotechnology, pre-requisites to make transition into nanotechnology era, nanotechnology products. - Colloidal nanoparticles: Metal nanoparticles, semiconductor nanoparticles, metal oxide nanoparticles, fundamentals of nucleation, influence of ligands in the crystal growth and colloids stabilization, synthesis of anisotropic nanocrystals. - Spectroscopic characteristics of nanoparticles, Raman spectroscopy and surface enchanced raman spectroscopy. - Self-assembly of nanomaterials: Layer by Layer assembly, block copolymers, self-assembled monolayers, ionic self-assembly, DNA based self-assembly. Self-assembly of inorganic nanospheres and anisotropic particles, suplerlattices, tip to tip assembly. - Scanning Probe Microscopies: Operating principle of Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM), tunnelling through a rectangular 1-D barrier with definition of tunnelling probability, modes of operation (constant current and constant height imaging), advantages and disadvantages of STM, STM imaging of metals and semiconductor surfaces with examples, tunnelling spectroscopy, quantum corral as an example for particle in a 2-D circular box. - Atomic Force Microscope (AFM): operating principle, different techniques such as contact, tapping, lateral and phase-sensitive mode and their strengths and weaknesses, limitations of current probe design and how these can be overcome by carbon nanotube (CNT) modified probes, fabrication methods of CNT probes and their application with examples. - Coulomb blockade effect, Transport properties in nanostructures - Electron microscopies: Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM): operating principle, strengths and weaknesses of each technique, application to the characterisation of nanostructured materials as an example. - Carbon nanotubes: discovery of nanotubes, types of carbon nanotubes, fabrication methods, carbon nanotube FET, STM studies on carbon nanotubes, mechanical, physical and chemical properties with examples. - Quantum dots, wells and wires: Definition, fabrication, physical properties

Special Features

This is a multidisciplinary module that discusses the chemistry, physics and biology of nanoscience.

Learning and Teaching

Follow-up work10
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Completion of assessment task2
Wider reading or practice98
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

E. W. Wolf (2006). Nanophysics and Nanotechnology. 

G. Cao (2004). Nanostructures and Nanomaterials. 

G. L. Hornyak, J. Dutta, H.F. Tibbals, A. K. Rae (2008). Introduction to Nanoscience. 

I. W. Hamley (2000). Introduction to Soft Matter. 

Caruso (2004). Colloids and Colloid Assemblies. 

G.A. Ozin, A.C. Arsenault, L. Cademartiri (2009). Nanochemistry: A Chemical Approach to Nanomaterials. 

G. Schmid (2004). Nanoparticles: From Theory to Applications. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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