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10304 Experimental Surface Physics

Danish title:

Eksperimentel overfladefysik


Point( ECTS )


Course type:

Taught under single-course student
General competence course, MSc. Eng., Physics and Nanotechnology
Technological specialization course, MSc. Eng., Physics and Nanotechnology
Technological specialization course, MSc. Eng., Sustainable Energy


F3 (Tues 8-12, Fri 13-17)


Campus Lyngby

Scope and form:

Lectures, laboratory exercises and oral presentations.

Duration of Course:

13 weeks

Date of examination:


Type of assessment:



Recommended prerequisites:


Participants restrictions:

Minimum 6 Maximum: 24

General course objectives:

To give the students knowledge of the atomic-scale physics prevailing at the interface between solid and gas/liquid phases. This is of fundamental importance if you want to understand technologically important processes, e.g. catalysis, adhesion, tribology, and mechanical and chemical properties of new nanomaterials. The course aims at giving the students an overview of the most applied methods and an introduction to how these can be used to study realistic problems within the surface physics area. The student will during the course independently perform experiments on advanced equipment, such that hands-on experience with some of the methods is acquired. An important part of this course is the combination of experiments, report-writing, and oral presentations in order to give the students experience with evaluating the individual methods for solving specific problems and to read the relevant literature.

Learning objectives:

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:
  • Explain phenomena which are responsible for the structure and composition of surfaces.
  • Explain the physical phenomena which are responsible for adsorption on surfaces.
  • Explain general tendencies in surface reactivity and surface energy.
  • Determine nanoparticle structure and stability under vacuum and in reactive atmospheres.
  • Analyze catalytic processes by simple models.
  • Explain the most important catalytical processes and describe the most significant technical obstacles.
  • Explain how nanoparticles in the future may provide solutions for future energy production.
  • Explain in detail the principles of methods for surface analysis, and why they are surface sensitive.
  • Determine which method is most appropriate for a certain problem like for example determining the surface composition.
  • Perform a critical and comparative evaluation of results obtained with various surface sensitive methods.
  • Evaluate the different methods on the obtainable results, time, and investments.


Quantum mechanical description of the physics and chemistry of clean surfaces, including the electronic and structural properties. Description of electron structure of adsorbates of the surface, epitaxy, adsorption/desorption mechanisms, chemisorption and the dynamics of chemical and physical reactions. Description of the prerequisite for experimental studies of these surfaces under well-defined conditions - this is ultra-high vacuum (UHV) with base pressures below 10E-13 bar. The most popular methods, e.g. x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), ion scattering spectroscopy (ISS), low energy electron diffraction (LEED), electron microscopy (EM) and scanning probe microscopy (AFM and STM) will also be described. Furthermore, fundamental aspects of heterogeneous catalysis especially in connection with the future energy production will be analysed. All the above-mentioned methods will be discussed by use of a combination of lectures, exciting new research and application papers, and experiments followed by reports and oral presentations. A visit to the industry is also enclosed.


Book: "Concepts of Modern Catalysis and Kinetics" by Ib Chorkendorff and Hans Niematverdriet (ISBN: 9783527308170 new version from 2007). Additional notes can be purchased from the course responsible.

Green challenge participation:

Please contact the teacher for information on whether this course gives the student the opportunity to prepare a project that may participate in DTU´s Study Conference on sustainability, climate technology, and the environment (GRØN DYST). More infor http://www.groendyst.dtu.dk/english


Ib Chorkendorff , Lyngby Campus, Building 312, Ph. (+45) 4525 3170 , Ibchork@fysik.dtu.dk
Sebastian Horch , Lyngby Campus, Building 307, Ph. (+45) 4525 3232 , horch@fysik.dtu.dk


10 Department of Physics

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Last updated: 30. april, 2015