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Advanced Materials Analysis with Synchrotron Radiation: Techniques and Applications

Module PH2134

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 WS 2020/1 (current)

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
WS 2020/1WS 2019/20SS 2017SS 2013WS 2011/2

Basic Information

PH2134 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered in winter 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 45 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2134 is Francesco Allegretti.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


The goal of this module is to give an overview on state-of-the-art photon-based experimental techniques that can be successfully exploited to study a wide range of functional systems relevant for materials science, condensed matter physics, nanoscience and physical chemistry.

The use of photons as primary excitation source offers a variety of tools, which prove invaluable for unraveling the physical and chemical properties of condensed matter and for elucidating the underlying physical processes at the atomic scale. This lecture course provides a comprehensive survey of a suite of experimental techniques that are based on the use of synchrotron radiation. Fundamental principles, modes of operation and basic instrumentation will be presented for each technique, and the potential and value will be illustrated by means of relevant and innovative applications to advanced materials analysis.


  • interaction of photons with matter
  • synchrotron radiation & technology
  • basic beam line instrumentation
  • X-ray diffraction & scattering techniques
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy & soft X-ray magnetic dichroism
  • high-resolution photoelectron spectroscopy
  • photoelectron diffraction & X-ray standing waves
  • photoemission electron microscopy
  • spin-polarized techniques
  • time-resolved spectroscopies

Throughout the module, an interdisciplinary approach will be adopted, which focuses on phenomena at the crossroads among condensed matter physics, materials science, physical chemistry, surface and nanoscale science, catalysis and even biophysics.

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the module the students are able to:

  1. understand the physics of synchrotron radiation, its generation and exploitation;
  2. comprehend the basic principles, the potential and applicability of a number of synchrotron-based techniques that are well-suited to explore the structural, electronic and magnetic properties of advanced functional materials;
  3. have an atomic scale view of exciting physical phenomena, which involve the aggregation of atoms and are intrinsically related to the quantum behaviour of electrons, their complex interactions and dynamics.

Moreover, as many of these techniques are of increasing importance for both academic and industrial research, the students will develop a valuable knowledge of experimental tools that will be useful in their future career.


There are no strict requirements, but a basic knowledge of quantum mechanics (e.g. PH0007) and solid state physics (e.g. PH0019) can be helpful.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module cosists of a lecture and exercise classes. In the thematically structured lecture the learning content is presented. With cross references between different topics the universal concepts in physics are shown. In scientific discussions the students are involved to stimulate their analytic-physics intellectual power.

In the exercise the learning content is deepened and practised using problem examples and calculations. Thus the students are able to explain and apply the learned physics knowledge independently.


  • Lecture: beamer presentation with slides, board work.
  • Tutorials with board work, discussion, seminars and problem solving to stimulate the active participation of the students.
  • Self-evaluation using checklists.
  • Visits to on-campus laboratories.
  • A guided visit to a European synchrotron radiation facility is possible at the end of the summer semester.


Beamer presentation with slides, blackboard, lecture notes, exercise sheets. Lab tours. Execution of multiple choice tests in the Moodle platform.


Recommended textbooks:

  • P. Willmott: An Introduction to Synchrotron Radiation: Techniques and Applications, Wiley, (2011)
  • J. Als-Nielsen & D. McMorrow: Elements of Modern X-ray Physics, Wiley, (2010)

Complementing literature: reviews in scientific journals.

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 and sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • What are the basic components of a synchrotron?
  • How does an undulator work?
  • Describe the physical principle of photoelectron spectroscopy.

Participation in the exercise classes is strongly recommended since the exercises prepare for the problems of the exam and rehearse the specific competencies.

There will be a bonus (one intermediate stepping of "0,3" to the better grade) on passed module exams (4,3 is not upgraded to 4,0). The bonus is applicable to the exam period directly following the lecture period (not to the exam repetition) and subject to the condition that the student passes the mid-term of blackboard presentation of an exercise solution and a 25-minute presentation on a selected research topic.

Exam Repetition

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

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