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Unit information: Surface Physics in 2020/21

Unit name Surface Physics
Unit code PHYSM0007
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Vasiljevic
Open unit status Not open

PHYS30021 Solid State Physics, or equivalent including as part of PHYSM0003 or CHEMM4000



School/department School of Physics
Faculty Faculty of Science


The aims of this course are as follows:

  • To develop concepts from previous condensed matter courses, thereby showing how the reduced dimensionality of the surface affects fundamental physical properties and processes such as electronic structure, magnetism and phase transitions in metals and semiconductors.
  • To demonstrate the importance of surface structure for processes such as crystal growth and catalysis.
  • To introduce chemical physics at the solid-liquid interface.

Intended learning outcomes

Students should be able to: Describe the structure of ideal and reconstructed surfaces. Be familiar with different contributions to surface energy. Identify the appropriate experimental technique to address problems in surface science. Relate surface electronic structure to magnetic and catalytic properties. Describe surface processes including growth, relaxation and adsorption at the atomic level.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • synchronous group problems classes, workshops, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous directed individual formative exercises and other exercises
  • guided, structured reading

Assessment Details

Summative Assessment Written, timed, open-book examination (100%)

Reading and References

  • Zangwill, Physics at Surfaces (Cambridge)
  • Butt, Graf and Kappl, Physics and Chemistry of Interfaces (Wiley)
  • Lüth, Solid Surfaces, Interfaces and Thin Films (Graduate Texts in Physics).