PHYC40480 Biophysics at the Nanoscale and Nanodevices

Academic Year 2022/2023

Much of today's nanoscale research is designed to reach a better understanding of how matter behaves on a small scale. The factors that govern larger systems do not necessarily apply at the nanoscale. Because nanomaterials have large surface areas relative to their volumes, phenomena like friction and sticking are more important than they are in larger systems.
Engineering at very small length scales will ultimately produce technologies that utilize materials with new and fundamentally unique properties. Devices at the nanoscale will address challenges in future technologies. This will include the fields of nanooptics and sub-diffraction limited imaging, plasmonics, optical molecular switches and quantum dots but also nanomedicine including anti-cancer treatments and diagnostic. There are two basic approaches for creating nanodevices (top-down approach and the bottom-up approach). The first approach involves e.g. lithography and etching materials into smaller components and has traditionally been used in making parts for computers and electronics. The bottom-up approach involves assembling structures atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule, and may prove useful in manufacturing devices used in medicine.
The course will cover a general introduction into the physics at the nanoscale (band structure, optical properties, electronics) and will additionally introduce imaging and spectroscopy techniques which are useful to characterise systems at the nanoscale.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module the learner should have acquired an advanced understanding of nanoscale phenomena and the physics behind them, the necessary models to compute their interactions and a number of experimental techniques to characterize these.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning






Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
homework and tutorials,
detailed lecture notes.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Examination: Final examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded Yes


Continuous Assessment: Tutorials and homework Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will be provided with full solutions to their homework and with an explained marking. Feedback to the final examination can be provided in a face to face fashion.