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Unit information: Advanced Nanophysics in 2015/16

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Unit name Advanced Nanophysics
Unit code PHYSM3411
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Antognozzi
Open unit status Not open

PHYS32600 Nanophysics.



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This course builds on the material in the Level 6 Nanophysics (PHYS32600) unit. In this unit, we focus on molecular materials, the link between molecular interactions and nanoscale behaviour, and its exploitation in the fabrication of real devices. Liquid crystals are introduced as an example in which control of intermolecular interactions gives control of physical properties, including mechanical (spider silk) and electro-optic properties (light modulators and displays). The electronic properties of molecules will be examined, with applications in organic transistors and photovoltaic materials. The importance of interfaces in the nanofabrication of materials will also be considered. Many molecular processes take place in solution. We consider solution thermodynamics, the role of the solvent in modifying intermolecular forces, and the origin of Brownian forces and hydrodynamic interactions. Other topics to be discussed include nanostructured stimuli-responsive materials, molecular nanomachines and nano-swimmers.


  • To study nano-structured molecular materials.
  • To show how control at the molecular level can lead to a variety of different structures with applications as broad ranging as cell membranes, photonic crystals, tunable lasers and molecular transistors.
  • To examine self assembly and molecular ordering in liquid crystalline systems and to show how control of molecular architecture and interactions and influence mechanical, thermal and electro-optical behavior.
  • To examine the electronic properties of molecules and applications of semi-conducting polymers in molecular transistors and photovoltaic materials.
  • To examine the influence of surfaces and interfaces in nanofabrication.
  • To show how a solvent affects both the structure and dynamics of a molecular system, and discuss the implications of this for the design of molecular systems such as stimuli-responsive materials and molecular-scale machines.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • describe how molecular level control can be exploited in the production of nanostructures materials.
  • explain the rules governing liquid crystalline ordering and know how liquid crystallinity provides an extra degree of control in the assembly and processing of molecular materials.
  • describe the principles of operation of organic light emitting diodes and transistors and photovoltaic materials, and know how to optimise their performance.
  • understand the roles of surfaces and interfaces in nanofabrication.
  • calculate the effect of solvents on molecular systems: thermodynamics, Brownian motion and hydrodynamics.
  • appreciate the design considerations for molecular actuators: generating usable force, energy sources and heat dissipation.

Teaching Information

Lectures and Problems Classes

Assessment Information

  • Formative assessment is provided through problems classes
  • Summative assessment through a 2 hour paper (100%)

Reading and References

  • “Physics of Liquid Crystals”, P.G. de Gennes and J. Prost (2nd Ed. OUP, 1995).
  • “Introduction to Polymer Physics”, M. Doi (OUP, 1996).
  • “Liquid Crystalline Polymers”, A.M. Donald, A.H. Windle and S. Hanna (2nd Ed. CUP, 2006).
  • “Molecular Electronics”, M.C. Petty (Wiley, 2007)
  • “Nanoscale Science and Technology”, R. Kelsall, I. Hamley & M. Geoghegan (Wiley, 2006).