de | en

Nanoscience using Scanning Probe Microscopy

Module PH2140

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 2017/8

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

available module versions
SS 2019SS 2018WS 2017/8SS 2017SS 2012

Basic Information

PH2140 is a semester module in German or English language at Master’s level which is offered every 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 40 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2140 in the version of WS 2017/8 was Florian Klappenberger.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This lecture course focuses on scanning probe microscopy as a powerful tool to explore the nanoworld. The ability of scanning probe techniques to visualize surfaces in real space and to characterize and even trigger physical and chemical processes on the atomic level makes them highly relevant in diverse fields as physics, chemistry, material science, or biology. Specifically, this course will cover the following methods:

  • Scanning tunneling microscopy
  • Scanning tunneling spectroscopy
  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Magnetic force microscopy
  • Scanning near-field optical microscopy

We introduce fundamental principles, modes of operation and basic instrumentation for each technique. Great emphasis will be put on recent groundbreaking experimental studies highlighting the potential of scanning probe microscopy to unveil physical and chemical phenomena on the nanoscale. The topics include the electronic and magnetic characterization of surfaces and molecular nanostructures, quantum confinement, molecular rotors, but also the controlled manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

Thus, the goal is to introduce students to the toolbox of scanning probe microscopy and to illustrate the fascinating phenomena that can be studied.

Learning Outcome

The modul aims at a general understanding of physics at the atomic level and the basic understanding of scanning probe techniques. After successful completion of the modul the students should be able to follow scientific talks on recent developments in the field of nanoresearch at surfaces. The interested student should have enough starting points to further explore the field in an autonomous way. 


There are no strict requirements, but basic solid state physics would certainly help.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

The modul should convey the scientific discussion between researches about new findings.


Frontal presentation with focus on interactive discussions + lab tours


The literature to this lecture is based on the scientific articles referred to in the lecture.

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of about 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, discussion guided by schemes and simple formulas.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Which AFM measurement modes do you know and what are the differences between them?
  • Draw a scheme of the setup of a scanning tunneling microscope.
  • How can one get spin-sensitive STM measurements.

Exam Repetition

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

Top of page