Surface Physical Chemistry

Course content

Surface Physical Chemistry; The course is roughly covering the following themes in this order:
1) Intermolecular forces and potentials
2) Interactions involving polar and polarizable molecules
3) Van der Waals and steric forces between molecules
4) Van der Waals forces between particles and surfaces
5) Electrostatic forces between surfaces in liquids (EDL)
6) Combing forces: DLVO, hydration, wetting


MSc Programme in Biochemistry

MSc Programme in Chemistry

MSc Programme in Nanoscience

Learning outcome


The student will acquire basic knowledge about forces between molecules and between surfaces. The student will understand the basic concepts involved in the theory.  This includes understanding of concepts such as Van der Waals forces, electrical double layer of dissolved ions (EDL) and DLVO (colloid stability) theory and its application to experimental systems



The student will be able to participate in scientific activities within surface forces (research, conferences, general scientific discussions, understanding papers on the subject, etc.).



After having passed the course, the student should be able to:

  • account for types of classical interactions between various types of species including ions, polar molecules, polarizable molecules and understand the concept of potentials.
  • account for the origin and basic concepts of Van der Waals and steric forces.
  • account for Van der Waals forces between surfaces and particles, Hamaker constant and the geometric derivation of the equations.
  • account for the dissociation constant, electrical double layer, Grahame equation, effect of divalent ions, the Debye length.
  • account for the combined effect of Van der Waals and electrical double layer: DLVO.

Understand the limitations of the theories involved

Lectures, exercise hours.

Jacob Israelachvili, Intermolecular and Surface Forces,  3rd edition

Recommended Geochemistry or M2 (Surface Chemistry) and Matintro or similar is minimum.

if less than 10 students are signed up we might have to change the format of the teaching, but we will still cover the same pen sum

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Continuous assessment
Continuous evaluation, internal censorship, evaluation is given by the 7 step scale. The evaluation is based on 3 written 1 hour subtests that carry equal weight towards the final evaluation. The tests will be in the form of assignments that covers the material covered up to the point of the test.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

Criteria is defined by the set of skills listed in the "målbeskrivelse"

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 18
  • Theory exercises
  • 36
  • Exam
  • 3
  • Preparation
  • 149
  • English
  • 206