15732 - School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

School of Biological & Chemical Sciences
Module Specification Form
Academic Year 2005-2006
Module coordinator:
Module Title: Surfaces and Interfaces
Module Code:
Module Level: 3
Duration of Module: 12 weeks (Semester 1)
(delete as applicable):
Title of Module being replaced
(if any):
With effect from:
CHE443 Fundamental Properties of Atoms
& Molecules
Total Student Study Time:
Overall the module is expected to involve students in approximately 150 hours of learning,
including formal contact, personal study, coursework and assessment. The total formal
contact is 22 hours of lectures, and 2-4 hours of tutorial workshops.
Module description:
This module reviews the modern chemistry of surfaces and interfaces: the lectures include
discussion of the atomic structure of solid surfaces, molecular adsorption, the nature and
applications of chemical reactions at surfaces, and selected examples of the structure and
chemistry of liquid interfaces. A range of important experimental techniques for the study of
various types of interfaces are introduced and discussed in detail.
The aim of this course is to introduce and expand upon the important concepts underlying
the current understanding and experimental investigation of the chemistry of surfaces and
interfaces. The course examines the factors which influence the structure and reactivity of
surfaces, and survey some of the modern experimental techniques used to study surfaces.
At the end of this module students should appreciate the importance of interfacial
processes (in areas such as catalysis and the electronics industry), understand key
physical processes relating to surface chemistry, and be able to discuss the principles and
merits of different experimental techniques for the study of interfaces.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Subject knowledge and skills:
At the end of this course students should;
 have a grasp of the importance and role of surfaces in a range of applications.
 have gained knowledge of surface structure, processes such as adsorption and
desorption, and the reactivity at surfaces, and obtained experience in related
numerical calculations.
 appreciate the importance of surface tension and its related applications.
 be able to select appropriate experimental techniques for investigation of specific
properties, and discuss the physical basis, strengths and weaknesses of individual
Core academic skills:
This module will enhance students' understanding of the physical and chemical properties
of surfaces, reactions at surfaces and methods for the characterisation of surfaces using a
range of modern experimental techniques. They will also appreciate and gain a
fundamental understanding of different processes, which are of great scientific and
technological interest, occurring at surfaces. They will also gain an appreciation of the way
in which scientific theories develop and are modified.
Personal and key skills:
The module will enhance students' general scientific understanding and knowledge of
experimental techniques through lecture material. They will also see the real industrial
applications of the material studied in the lectures. This is achieved by a series of four
lectures given by an industrialist. Related course work will improve planning and
organisational skills. Overall, the module will improve the students’ ability to handle
information, to conduct independent study and to extract information from the scientific
Module Specification Form: Surfaces and Interfaces. CHE635
The coursework will include one or more problem sheets, a class test (based on the
lectures of Prof. Irven) and an essay on the current application of surface characterisation
technique using current research journals. The coursework constitutes 20% of the final
mark for the module and a minimum average coursework mark of 30% is required to pass
the module at the first attempt, regardless of the performance in the examination.
Attendance and Late submission of work:
Attendance is required at all sessions in all parts of this course. Students who fail to attend
at least 75% of each type of session may be barred from the final examination. A clear
deadline for the submission of coursework will be given for each piece of assessed work.
Work handed after the deadline will be corrected at the lecturers’ discretion but credit will
only be given towards the assessment in exceptional circumstances.
Assessment methods:
Assessment methods: Coursework (20%) and an examination paper in May/June (80%).
Examination paper rubric:
Answer FOUR questions ONE question from each sections A, B, C and D. Only permitted
calculators may be used in this examination. Examination 2 hours and 15 minutes
Laboratory work: N/A
Oral: N/A
Project: N/A
Continuous Assessment Based on attendance requirement: N/A
Dissertation: N/A
Composite Written Exam: N/A
Learning and teaching methods:
Two lectures per week, supported by several tutorial workshops.
Module Specification Form: Surfaces and Interfaces. CHE635
Syllabus Plan:
Section I - Chemistry of the Solid-Gas Interface - Theory & Experiment
Introduction to surface chemistry and surface analysis
Atomic structure of solid surfaces
Adsorption of gases on surfaces
Adsorption of gases on surfaces (cont.)
Surface analysis - introduction
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
Surface vibrational spectroscopy (EELS, RAIRS)
Scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM)
Thermal techniques and surface reaction kinetics
Section II - Chemistry of Electronic, Opto-electronic and Optical Materials
10) Introduction to semiconductor materials and communications.
11) Electronic materials - the role of gases.
12) Opto-electronic materials and optics.
13) Fibreoptics technology and the future for CVD and chip technology.
Section III – Surface characterisation using scattering techniques.
14) Introduction to the theory of X-ray and neutron scattering.
15) Production of X-ray and neutrons.
16) Theory of neutron and X-ray reflectivity.
17) Neutron and X-ray reflectometer. Application of the techniques.
18) Reflectivity data interpretation.
19) Introduction to the technique of ellipsometry and atomic force microscopy and
its modes of operation. Examples of their applications.
20) Surface force apparatus and its application to determine the interaction forces
between adsorbed polymer layers.
21) Introduction to surface tensions.
22) Experimental methods for measurement of surface tensions.
Indicative Basic Reading List:
For this course you must have access to a basic text on Physical Chemistry. The course is
not tied to a single textbook. The followings are some useful books / reference material.
1) R.M. Nix, "An Introduction to Surface Chemistry" , web tutorial available at
2) G. Attard & C. Barnes, "Surfaces”, Oxford Chemistry Primer 59, QD508 ATT
3) E.M. McCash, "Surface Chemistry", Oxford, QD506 MAC.
4) Adamson & A.P. Gast, "The Physical Chemistry of Surfaces", 6th Edition, Wiley,
5) A. Azzam, N.H. Bashara, "Ellipsometry and Polarised light", North-Holland, QC441
Module Specification Form: Surfaces and Interfaces. CHE635