NKEK12008U Structural Tools in Nanoscience

Volume 2020/2021

MSc Programme in Nanoscience


The purpose of the course is to give an introduction to modern structural characterization tools in nanoscience and how these are applied in current research. During the course, we will discuss some of the most important experimental tools applied for advanced structural characterization. These tools include:

  • Scattering methods using x-rays and neutrons (small angle scattering, wide angle diffraction, total scattering methods) 
  • X-ray spectroscopy methods (XANES, EXAFS)
  • Scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM, TEM) 
  • Scanning probe methods, including scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscopy (STM, AFM) 
  • Chemical characterization tools such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy or energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (XPS, EDXS)

Scientists with expertise in the individual methods from the Department of Chemistry and other institutions will present the physical basis of the techniques, as well as their strength and weaknesses. Examples from current scientific literature will be included through student presentations of selected research papers.

Apart from lectures and exercises, the students will apply selected experimental techniques for structural characterization. This practical part is very much student driven: The students must organize 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 presentation will be produced about the characterization of the samples and findings of the project.

If possible, a one-day visit to a company or large scientific facility will furthermore 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 data and results from the tecniques.



  • Hands-on experience of some of the techniques in practice.
  • Critically examine experimental results from important structural techniques.



  • About characterization tools in nanoscience and how these are applied in current research
Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Lectures, exercises, student presentation, and experimental work in group
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Preparation
  • 101
  • Theory exercises
  • 24
  • Practical exercises
  • 12
  • Project work
  • 20
  • 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
Oral examination, 25 min
Oral examination 25 minutes with preparation (25 minutes).
Exam registration requirements

Participation in the experimental activities and contribution to a written report and a presentation are required before the students can participate in the examination.

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

Same as ordinary.

Criteria for exam assesment

see 'learning outcome'