Course syllabus

The Physics of Surfaces

TEK177, 7,5 credits, A (Second Cycle)

Valid for: 2014/15
Decided by: Education Board B
Date of Decision: 2014-04-08

General Information

Main field: Nanoscience.
Elective for: F4, F4-nf, N4-nf, N5-m
Language of instruction: The course will be given in English on demand


The goal of this course is to give the students an introduction to the specific problems and challenges related to surfaces and how these are addressed experimentally. These problems are of fundamental importance in a wide range of subjects such as heterogenous catalysis, corrosion, printing, dyeing, detergency and adhesion. Further in the field of nanoscience surfaces plays a prominent role as nanosized objects inherently have large surface to bulk ratios – in the extreme case such as carbon nanotubes the object is a surface.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding
For a passing grade the student must

· be able to explain the fundamental importance of surfaces and how their structure and properties can differ from bulk objects

· be able to use the nomenclature which is employed in the description of surfaces and adsorption on surfaces both in real and reciprocal space

· be able to analyse the advantages and limitations of the most common experimental techniques used for surfaces

· be able to interpret results from techniques such as XPS, LEED and STM, as presented in papers, patents etc. and know when these results can not be trusted

· given a specific surface problem the student should be able to choose which techniques are relevant to use

Competences and skills
For a passing grade the student must

Complete an individual project

Deliver a written report about the project which fulfill basic demands for scientific reporting

Prepare and give an oral presentation of the individual project fulfilling the demands of scientific communication


In the course an introduction to surfaces and their fundamental importance in physics, chemistry, nanoscience and biology will first be given. Then the basic description of surfaces structure, adsorption, reactions and growth on surfaces will be discussed. In particular it will be discussed how the physics and chemistry of the surfaces (and 2D gases of the surfaces) can differ fundamentally from their 3D counterparts.

In the remaining (main) part of the course we will discuss the experimental measurements of surface structure, chemistry and morphology using:
Scanning Probe Microscropies (STM, AFM, MFM), Spectrocopy (AES, XPS), Diffraction (LEED, SXRD) and microscopy methods based on XPS, LEED, SXRD. In addition surface physics and chemistry at larger facilities such as MAX-lab will be discussed.

The course covers the following main topics:

· surface specific problems in physics, chemistry, nanoscience and biology

· describing surface structure, adsorption and alloying

· scanning tunneling probe techniques for surface analysis.

· spectroscopy and diffraction techniques for surface analysis

· new methods being developed for surface analysis.

Examination details

Grading scale: TH
Assessment: To pass the course the project report must be approved, the oral presentations of the projects must be approved and all the obligatory assignments during the course must be completed. The final grade will be based on the written report and the oral presentations in a 50/50 relationship.


Required prior knowledge: FFFF05 Solid State Physics or FFFF01 Electronic Materials.
The number of participants is limited to: No

Reading list

Contact and other information

Course coordinator: Edvin Lundgren,
Course coordinator: Anders Mikkelsen,
Course homepage:
Further information: The course is given by the Faculty of Science and does not follow the study period structure.