55114 - Elements of Materials' Physical Chemistry

Course Unit Page

  • Credits 3

  • SSD CHIM/02

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

Academic Year 2006/2007

Learning outcomes

The course has the objective of providing an overview of several important classes of advanced materials (particularly the various types of liquid crystals, polymers, glasses, colloids, nanoporous materials) and to rationalize their properties, particularly those closer to practical applications (e.g. displays, thermal sensors etc.), in molecular terms.
We shall also examine some essential material characterization techniques, like Differential Scanning Calorimetry and Xrays.
A brief introduction to computer modelling and simulation techniques, to be treated more in detail in the "Lauera Specialistica" course, will be given, mainly with the aim of understanding the basic workings of the Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics codes currently of great importance also in an Industrial context.

Course contents

The condensed phases of matter and the qualitative description of their structure and properties in terms of molecular ordering.
Crystals and some of their typical optical (birefringence) and mechanical (Young modulus) features. Liquids. Liquid crystals and their applications as advanced materials: nematics (functioning of Twisted Nematic, In Plane Switching, Vertical Alignment  Liquid Crystal Displays), cholesterics (thermal sensors), smectics (displays  withmemory) , discotics (columnar phases and molecular wires). Lyotropic phases and self-assembling systems:, micelles, liposomes, bilayers. Nanoporous  systems, artificial zeolites (e.g. MCM41): preparation via self-assembly and templating. Colloids.

(Ehrenfest e Landau - deGennes). Supercritical solvents and their applications. Metastability and glassy state. Nanoporous  systems.

X-ray diffraction and its applications. Bragg's law. Single crystal and powder spectra. X-ray of amorphous materials, polymers, glasses. SAXS.

Interactions between molecules and colloidal particles. Hard spheres, Lennard-Jones, electrostatic interactions (charge, dipole, quadrupole). Induction and dispersion forces. The effect of the interaction range on the aggregation states of condensed matter and colloids.

Relative importance of the different type of forces in solution. Interaction between colloidal particles. Elements of DLVO theory.

The relation between molecular and macroscopic properties. A brief  introduction to modelling and computer simulation techniques. Problems and perspectives.


I. W. Hamley , Introduction to Soft Matter : Polymers, Colloids, Amphiphiles and Liquid Crystals (Wiley,


C. Zannoni, Cristalli Liquidi, Enciclopedia del Novecento, Supplemento III, Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Treccani, 288-297 (2004)


Teaching methods

Front Lectures using powerpoint presentation and blackboard

Assessment methods

Oral exam

Teaching tools

The course is based on Lectures delivered with the help video-projector and blackboard.
An handout with copy of the slides shown will be distributed before every group of Lectures.

Links to further information