NKEK12008U Structural Tools in Nanoscience

Volume 2015/2016

Master programme in Nanoscience



The purpose of the course is to give an introduction to modern charactisation tools in surface and nano science. During the course, we will discuss some of the most important experimental tools for advanced structural characterisation of samples. These tools could include:


  • Scattering methods based on x-rays and neutrons (small angle scattering, reflectometry, EXAFS, diffraction) 
  • Scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM, TEM) 
  • Scanning probe methods including scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscopy (STM, AFM) 
  • Chemical characterisation tools (XPS, EDXS)
  • Simulation methods, mainly density functional theory and molecular dynamics (DFT, MD) 

Scientists, with expertise in the individual methods, from the Chemistry Department and other institutions, will present the physical basis of the techniques as well as their strength and weaknesses, with highlight examples. 

A large part of the course is experimental, where the students will use the techniques and learn about their applicability. They will work in groups of three to four people and choose their own set of samples which they will characterise with a subset of the techniques presented in the lectures. This practical part is very much student driven. They will have to organise the lab work within the team, keep a logbook, arrange laboratory time and seek information about the interpretation of the results, etc... a report and a poster will be produced about the characterisation of the samples and findings of the project. If possible, a one-day visit to a company or large scientific facility will be arranged.

Learning Outcome

Having followed this course the student should have acquired the following: 



  • be able to explain the basic physical and chemical principles of the presented techniques
  • be able to compare and discuss the advantages and limitations of the techniques
  • be able to plan which methods to use in order to obtain useful information about a sample
  • be able to explain scientific results (report and poster presentation)



  • hands-on experience of some of the techniques in practice



  • about characterisation tools in surface and nano science
Lectures and laboratory practice
working in groups
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 0,25
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Practical exercises
  • 12
  • Project work
  • 163,75
  • Total
  • 206,00
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 15 min
The oral examination consists of the presentation of the poster followed by questions from the teachers.
Exam registration requirements

1) 80% attendance rate to the lectures
2) participation in the experimental activities and contribution to a written report and a poster are required before the students can participate in the examination. (1 report and 1 poster presented per group)

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners

Oral examination. The requirements for the re-exam are the same as for the ordinary exam. The requirement involving participation in experimental activities cannot be waived and students who do not fulfill this requirement must follow the course during the next academic year.

Criteria for exam assesment

see 'learning outcome'