Structural Tools in Nanoscience

Course content

The purpose of the course is to give an introduction to modern structural characterization tools in nanoscience and how these are applied in current research. During the course, we will discuss some of the most important experimental tools applied for advanced structural characterization. These tools include:

  • Scattering methods using x-rays and neutrons (small angle scattering, wide angle diffraction, total scattering methods) 
  • X-ray spectroscopy methods (XANES, EXAFS)
  • Scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM, TEM) 
  • Scanning probe methods, including scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscopy (STM, AFM) 
  • Chemical characterization tools such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy or energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (XPS, EDXS)

Scientists with expertise in the individual methods from the Department of Chemistry and other institutions will present the physical basis of the techniques, as well as their strength and weaknesses. Examples from current scientific literature will be included through student presentations of selected research papers.

Apart from lectures and exercises, the students will apply selected experimental techniques for structural characterization. This practical part is very much student driven: The students must organize the lab work within the team, keep a logbook, arrange laboratory time and seek information about the interpretation of the results, etc. A report and a presentation will be produced about the characterization of the samples and findings of the project.

If possible, a one-day visit to a company or large scientific facility will furthermore be arranged. 


MSc Programme in Nanoscience

Learning outcome

Having followed this course the student should have acquired the following: 



  • Be able to explain the basic physical and chemical principles of the presented techniques.
  • Be able to compare and discuss the advantages and limitations of the techniques.
  • Be able to plan which methods to use in order to obtain useful information about a sample.
  • Be able to explain data and results from the tecniques.



  • Hands-on experience of some of the techniques in practice.
  • Critically examine experimental results from important structural techniques.



  • About characterization tools in nanoscience and how these are applied in current research

Lectures, exercises, student presentation, and experimental work in group

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 25 min
Oral examination 25 minutes with preparation (25 minutes).
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
No external censorship, several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

see 'learning outcome'

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Project work
  • 20
  • Practical exercises
  • 12
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Theory exercises
  • 24
  • Preparation
  • 101
  • English
  • 206