NFYK12005U  Nanophysics 1 - Quantum Nanoelectronics

Volume 2016/2017

M.Sc. Programme in Nanoscience

M.Sc. Programme in Physics


We aim at giving a theoretical introduction to selected topics in the physics of nanostructures, with emphasis on experimental research areas at the Center for Quantum Devices and the Nano-Science Center. The general theme is current flow (electron transport) in nanoscale structures, where quantum effects are expressed clearly. The basic formalism, key concepts and real experiments will be discussed, rather than complete theoretical treatments, which are covered in other courses. The students will be provided with the background for understanding a wealth of recent experiments in the field which ranges from single-electron transport through “artificial atoms” in semiconductor structures to real “molecular transistors” based on single molecules. In addition to the purely scientific interests, these phenomena are also of technological importance in nanoelectronics and potential future applications in quantum information processing.

Electronic transport in nanostructures. The course will cover the following areas: concepts in electron transport, current flow in nanostructures, mesoscopic electron transport, the quantization of charge, flux, and conductance and their consequences for transport, Landauer (transmission) formalism, spin quantum bits (qubits) and spintronics. The chosen examples will include quantum wires, low dimensional semiconductor structures, quantum dots, graphene, carbon nanotubes, molecular transistors, coupled quantum dots, and other timely subjects in nanoelectronics. One session wil be devoted to nano fabrication. The course will combine textbook material with recent research reports and reviews. Students are expected to participate actively in this approach, eg by giving individual presentations of selected papers.

Learning Outcome

After completing the course the student should in order to receive the top grade be able to:


  • differentiate between various regimes of mesoscopic electron transport
  • sketch the key elements in realizing an electron transport experiment on a nanostructure
  • identify the relevant physical parameters in such an experiment, e.g. the essential length scales, energy scales, characteristic temperatures, quantized units etc
  • present clearly the phenomena reported in a research article within the field of experimental electron transport in nanostructures (in the following referred to as “the article”)
  • plan a presentation that within the allotted time covers the necessary introduction/background as well as items from the specific article
  • differentiate between the essential information and technical details in the article
  • reproduce and discuss the main features and trends in graphical representations of transport data
  • interpret the experimental data and explain qualitatively the origin of the phenomena reported in the article
  • relate the findings to the theory treated in the course
  • demonstrate through the presentation and discussion that familiarity with the concepts and terms introduced in the course has been obtained
  • demonstrate use of basic physical arguments, estimates and/or minimalistic calculations to support the presentation whenever necessary (no complete theoretical treatments are expected)
  • relate or contrast to relevant examples (e.g. other articles) known from the course in order to demonstrate a broader understanding of the field
  • evaluate critically the article’s conclusions to the extent that the background for this discussion has been treated in the course.


  • demonstrate understanding of the basic formalism and the key concepts within electron transport
  • describe the differences between transport in bulk materials (metals, semiconductors) and nanostructures
  • explain the most prominent consequences of quantum effects in electron transport through nanostructures (limited to the contents of the course)
  • describe the functionality of selected nanoelectronic devices based on these principles

This course will provide the students with a competent background for further studies within this research field, e.g. an M.Sc. project. The students will get experience with presenting research papers.

Thomas Ihn "Semiconductor Nanostructures", Oxford University Press 2010 (to be confirmed on course homepage prior to start), and supplementary material; see homepage

Basic study program in physics or nanoscience, incl. quantum mechanics and electrodynamics. An introduction to solid state physics, e.g. the course Condensed Matter Physics 1 (CMP 1), is strongly recommended. Nanoscience students should have completed the Nano 3 course or equivalent.
Lectures, excercises and discussions
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Oral examination, incl. presentation and discussion of a "take-home" article handed out two days prior to the oral examination.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More internal examiners
Criteria for exam assesment

The mark 12 will be given when the student demonstrates a complete fullfilment of the course goals listed under Skills.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Theory exercises
  • 30
  • Exam
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Total
  • 206