NIGK22003U Cancelled Plant-based Materials: Structure and Performance from Nano to Macro Scale

Volume 2023/2024

MSc Programme in Nanoscience


Can the properties of plant-based materials be understood based on their origin and function in the living plant?


In this course, we explore the relationship between materials like wood and fibres and the plant tissues from which they are derived. Plant-based materials are renewable and have small or even negative carbon footprints. Knowledge about how plants are transformed to recyclable materials that can replace or supplement fossil-based materials is consequently becoming more and more important throughout the circle from field or forest to product and back again. In this course, we study plant tissues at the nano and micro scales to understand their macroscale behaviour, and how inherent properties are utilized and even mimicked in man-made materials derived from plants.


The purpose of the course is to provide a fundamental understanding of how the structure of plant-based materials determines their physical properties and performance. The course enables students to understand how structure and chemistry plays an important role for vital material properties like for instance their mechanical performance and their resistance against fungal biodegradation, where for example enzyme-biomaterial interactions become important.


The course includes an introduction to relevant experimental methods used within material science to study material properties, such as various types of microscopy (light microscopy, electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy/AFM), vibrational spectroscopy (infrared and Raman), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and mechanical testing such as dynamic-mechanical analysis (DMA).


The course covers the following subjects:

  • Structure from nano-scale to macro-scale of:
    • Tissues in the living plant that are used as materials, such as wood and fibres
    • Human-made materials derived from plants
  • Biopolymers and their properties
  • Water in plant-based materials and effect on properties
  • Chemical modification of plant materials
  • Degradation mechanisms
Learning Outcome


  • describe how the material structure of different plant-based materials affect their physical properties (e.g. mechanical, degradation) 
  • explain how water interacts with the material structure in plant-based materials and hereby affects the physical properties


  • select appropriate experimental techniques to characterise material structure and properties of plant-based materials 
  • analyse the material structure of a plant-based material and from this estimate approximate material properties


  • discuss and predict likely plant-based material properties based on their material structure

Please see absalon page.

Knowledge of basic undergraduate chemistry, biochemistry, and biotechnology, e.g. courses “LKEB10108U General chemistry for life sciences” and “LKEB10109U Organic chemistry for life sciences” or similar.
The course will include various teaching methods: dialogue-based teaching, lectures, research-based teaching, short scientific reports and class discussions. During the course the students will make short scientific excercises based on the lecture contents and the course literature and these will be discussed in class. These excercises will be handed in as 1 report at the end of the course as part of the exam. The students will give peer feed-back to presentations by fellow students. The students will read scientific articles supplementing the lectures.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 32
  • Preparation
  • 131
  • Practical exercises
  • 4
  • Project work
  • 32
  • Seminar
  • 6
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral examination, 30 mine
Type of assessment details
Hand-in of a report prepared during course, followed by 30 minutes oral exam without preperation. The written and oral part of the exam each count 50% towards the final grade. The oral exam has two parts. One part is a presentation of the report prepared during the course, the other is an exam question to be drawn from a set of questions. The possible questions will be known to the students beforehand. The students pass the course, if the average grade of the two exam parts is 02 or above.
Exam registration requirements





All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.

Identical to ordinary exam.

Hand in a report no later than two weeks before the reexam. The students may hand in a revised report, if they handed in a report for the ordinary exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.