Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education Decent work and economic growth Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Academic Year 2020/2021

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will be able to implement and perform experiments at the nanoscale on advanced materials, both in terms of fundamental principles and advanced experimental tools for the growth and characterization of nanomaterials. The student will acquire the basic skills needed to critically elaborate and interpret experimental data.

Course contents

Introduction to experiments at the nanoscale

  1. Fabrication of nanostructures: “bottom up” approach, self-assembly growth (nanowires, nanoparticles, ultra- thin films)
  2. Characterization of nanostructures: scanning probe microscopies (AFM, STM etc)
  3. Measurements of electronic signals: low level electrical signal: collection, amplification, improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio.
  4. Application of nanostructures: communication and information technology, organic electronics and biosensors

Laboratory experiments

  1. Scanning Probe Microscopy (atomic force AFM, and Scanning Tunneling STM)
  2. Nano-electronic characterization: nano- Schottky barriers and transistors (current-voltage and capacitance voltage analyses)
  3. Characterization of electronic noise
  4. Nano-Fabrication and characterization of conducting polymer thin films and interfaces.
  5. Independent student project (supervised )


  1. Nanophysics and Nanotechnology: An Introduction to Modern Concepts in Nanoscience, Edward Wolf, Wiley-VCH
  2. Introductory Bioelectronics, Roland Pethig, Steward Smith, Wiley
  3. Atomic Force Microscopy, Greg Haugstad, Wiley

All important texts as well as the slides from the lectures are accessible on the dedicated website of the course.

Teaching methods

During the course the students will attend and participate in

- frontal lectures about the most important concepts

- independent experimental work in the educational laboratory

- independent student project and presentation

- practical exercises on data elaboration and analysis.

The laboratory experiments are performed in groups of 2 people, in the dedicated Condensed Matter Physics educational laboratory (located at the DIFA, viale Berti Pichat 6/2)

Assessment methods

Oral interview, with discussion of the written laboratory experiences results (to be handed in at least 3 days before the exam date). The oral interview aims at assessing the acquired knowledge related to the topics discussed during the course. The discussion of the laboratory reports aims at assessing the level of experimental proficiency and the development of critical skills in handling experimental data. The final mark, on a scale 18-30 over 30, takes into account the scores achieved in both the oral interview and in the laboratory reports.

Teaching tools

The course is structured into 3 different teaching modalities: 1) traditional frontal lectures 2) educational Laboratory 3) student exercises.

The educational laboratory is dedicated to practice experimentation in Nanosciences. Experiments are designed to stimulate independent studentwork and no step-by-step manuals are provided. Students have free access to PCs for elaborating data, images and reports throughout the whole course duration.

The student exercises focus on data elaboration techniques and students work on example data using their own computers and standard software according to their experiences (Excel, Origin, Matlab, R, ...)

The course has a dedicated eLearning page (Moodle) that contains all lecture materials, videos and supporting material.


Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Tobias Cramer