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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHYS1311 Introduction to Nanotechnology

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Kevin Critchley

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

Pre-requisite qualifications

A-levels in Science

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The smallest possible devices that can be fabricated are on the nanometre length scale. Miniturisation of devices offers many new technonological opportunities, which are only just starting to be implemented in our lives. The physical properties of nanomaterials differ from both the consituant atoms and the bulk material, and these can be unique and suprising. This module aims to introduce the physics behind nanotechnology in a semi-quantitave manner, without requiring knowledge of quantum mechanics or Maxwell’s equations. To understand nanotechnology, we will describe the physics of atoms and molecules, before moving on to discuss nano and bulk properties. We will cover a number of nanotechnological applications currently adopted and on the horizon, including nanomedicine. This module will introduced some physical models to understand nanotechnology.


Develop a semi-quantitative understanding of the atom, periodic table, and chemical bonding. Understand the basic physics of bulk materials and relate these properties to nanomaterials and atoms and molecules. Understand the basic ideas associated with miniaturisation and demonstrate knowledge of some specific examples of nanotechnology and the science associated with them.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of this module a student will have demonstrated the ability to:

- understand the electronic structure of the atom.
- understand how to apply scaling laws to predict the effects of miniaturisation.
- explain some unique effects and opportunities that nanotechnology provides.
- perform independent research into a topic write an essay on the topic
- solve problems relating to nanoscale objects.

Skills outcomes
A basic understanding of the structure of the atom, periodic table, chemical bonding and the physics of materials, including biological and nanomaterials.


• Indtroduction to the basic concepts of nanotechnology
• Introduction to miniaturisation
• Understand atoms and molecules
• Basic bulk materials properties and the effects of decreased dimensions
• Description of the useful applications of nanotechnology
• Description of nanotechnology in biology and medicine

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours78.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

- The students will be required to engage in private study to revise for the exam, guidance will be provided by way of problems provided during the course of the module.
- They will be provided with the answers by the lecturers, but the exercises will not be formally assessed.
- They will also be required to write a formal essay on a current topic (students will be given a choice of 3 essays) which will be assessed.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Regular Quizzes

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayCoursework (Essay)30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 00 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Students will have to complete an online assessment at the end of the module. This will take place during the examinations period at the end of the semester and will be time bound. The assessment will not take 48 hours to complete, but students will have a 48 hour time period in which to complete it.

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 12/10/2020 15:48:24


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