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2014/15 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PEME5711M Materials Structures and Characterisation

15 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Professor R M D Brydson

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2014/15

Pre-requisite qualifications

Honours degree (class II(ii)) in physical sciences or engineering

This module is mutually exclusive with

PEME2711Materials Structures & Charact
PEME3711Materials Structures and Characterisation

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- describe a range of typical crystal structures adopted by materials and understand the factors which determine the adoption of these structures;
- give a unified view of defects in solids, understand the mechanisms of their generation, their behaviour and their stability, and predict their effects on materials properties;
- describe and understand the stability of materials structures, including defects, in thermodynamic terms;
- understand the principles, applications and limitations of advanced materials characterisation techniques;
- practically employ a range of advanced materials characterisation techniques and analyse the data generated by these;
- conduct an individual materials characterisation project, including selection and application and possibly use of characterisation techniques.

Learning outcomes
An understanding of the range of techniques available to investigate the morphology, structure and chemistry of materials and how these link into resultant materials properties.

An understanding of the theory and practical implementation and use of these characterisation techniques to solve specific technological problems.


- Basic geometrical crystallography; crystal structures and crystal systems; space lattices and symmetry; point groups and space groups; geometry of the reciprocal lattice.
- Use of computers in the generation and analysis of crystal structures.
- X-ray characterisation: the Laue equations and Bragg's Law; the Ewald sphere; coherent scattering of X-rays; atomic scattering and structure factors; X-ray diffraction techniques.
- Stability and transformations of crystal structures: a thermodynamic approach; displacive and reconstructive transformations; effects of temperature and pressure on stability.
- The mechanistic approach to diffusion; atomic and molecular movement; dislocation reactions and interactions; grain boundaries; point, line and planar defects in metallic and ceramic crystal structures; polymer structures; importance of defects in materials behaviour.
- Light microscopy: dark ground, polarised light, differential interference contrast, interferometry methods, etching techniques.
- Electron specimen interactions: ionisation and decay, production of X-rays, secondary and Auger electrons.
- Electron microscopy: SEM, TEM, EPMA.
- Scanning probe techniques.
- Surface analysis.
- Spectroscopic techniques for analysis: photon spectroscopies, NMR.
- Thermal analysis.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours90.00
Total Contact hours60.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Directed reading in support of for lectures/tutorials/practical demonstrations.
Research and report writing for the extended assignment and research-based essay.
Preparation for individual projects

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Review of progress with extended assignment and research-based essay. Performance in tutorials and tutorial assignments.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or DissertationResearch-based55.00
AssignmentBased on lecture material and further reading45.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 11/03/2015


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