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Frontiers of Surface and Nanoscale Science

Module PH2072

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of SS 2019

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2021SS 2020SS 2019WS 2016/7WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH2072 is a semester module in German or English language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 30 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2072 in the version of SS 2019 was Wilhelm Auwärter.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


Ultrafast electron dynamics on surfaces, interfaces and nanostructures: attosecond streak camera approach, core-hole-clock and 2-photon photoemission;

An atom-selective look on electronic properties by advanced synchrotron methods;

Magnetisms of surfaces, thin films and nanoobjects: spin polarized scanning tunneling spectroscopy and XMCD;

Surface-anchored molecular switches and rotors;

Self-organized growth: self-assembled monolayers and supramolecular architecture;

Nanofabrication by molecular engineering;

Carbon nanoscience: Fullerene clusters, nanotubes, and graphene;

Nanoplasmonics, molcular electronics and moleculas spintronics;

New experimental techniques.

In addition, we plan an excursion to a synchrotron radiation laboratory.

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of this module, the student is able to

·      remember basic concepts of the analysis and control of matter at the nanoscale

·      understand the state-of-the-art experimental techniques

·      discuss how specific surface science questions are addressed in practice

·      recognize the cutting edge of surface and nanoscale science

·      develop insight in current research and emerging domains


Basic knowledge on solid state physics, quantum mechanics, surface and nanoscale science, as well as curiosity and openness for an interdisciplinary field is expected.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

In classroom lectures the teaching and learning content is presented and explained in a didactical, structured, and comprehensive form. This includes basic knowledge as well as selected current topics from a very broad research field. Universal methodic and physics concepts are highlighted by cross referencing between different topics. Crucial facts are conveyed by involving the students in scientific discussions to develop their intellectual power and to stimulate their analytic thinking on physics problems. Regular attendance of the lectures is therefore highly recommended.

The examples as well as regular self-study of personal notes from the lectures and recent review articles referenced in the course are an important part of the learning process by the students. Such post-processing and rationalization of the teaching content is indispensable to achieve the intended learning results that the students develop the ability of explaining and applying the learned knowledge independently. Furthermore, the preparation of a seminar talk on a selected, recent research article will help the students to explain and apply the learned physics and methodology knowledge.

Lab visits and excursions, including discussions with scientists in the field of surface and nanoscale science, will convey the practical relevance and implementation of the experimental techniques and yield insight in current resear4ch areas and emerging domains.


Lecture: Power point presentation, blackboard, printed hand-outs of lecture notes, post-lecture PDFs via Moodle, lab visits.

Seminar: Oral talk, power point presentation

Excursion: Oral presentations, lab visits


Lecture notes.

Selected articles in surface and nanoscale science research journals.

Textbooks, examples include:

  • K. Oura, V.G. Lifshits, A.A. Saranin, A.V. Zotov, M. Katayama; Surface Science, Springer, Berlin 2003; ISBN 3-540-00545-5, department library - Concise introduction to Surface Science; good overview
  • A. Zangwill, Physics at surfaces, Cambridge University Press 1988, Library of E20 and: B.18.K 117 - good introductory text
  • H. Ibach; Physics of Surfaces and Interfaces, Springer, Berlin 2006: Surface and interface phenomena including electrochemistry - comprehensive
  • K. Kolasinski; Surface Science – Foundation of Catalysis and Nanotechnology, 2nd ed. 2008, Wiley CH 155,- Euro
  • Stuart Lindsay, Introduction to Nanoscience; 2009, Oxford, 41.99 Euro - comprehensive with extensive background
  • E.L. Wolf, Nanophysics & Nanotechnology; 2008, Wiley CH 59.- Euro, physics-oriented
  • Ed. Bharat Bhushan, Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology, 2006, Springer, 266.43 Euro

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 30 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions, reflection of concepts and simple formulas.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Description and explanation of spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy
  • Describe and explain decay mechanisms for inner-shell vacancies
  • Discuss benefits of synchrotron radiation
  • Explain trigger mechanisms for molecular switches

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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