The Fundamental Characterisation for Nanotechnology course begins in April and runs for ten weeks. The course is divided into ten units, each of which is designed to take approximately one week to study:
- An introduction to what is meant by materials characterisation;
- The essential elements of the physical basis for x-ray and electron diffraction;
- Imaging, optical and electron-optical microscopies - imaging at the macroscale to the nanoscale;
- Micro- and nano-analytical techniques;
- Scanning probe techniques - physical principles and generic methodologies;
- Spectroscopies - techniques, with emphasis on surface and film analysis;
- Physical chemical techniques;
- Tactical and practical aspects of materials characterisation;
- A review of problems and further reading;
- An overview of strategic issues - synthesis and summary.
There will also be live online tutorials, normally once each week.
At the end of the taught part of the course, students attend a weekend in Oxford at the University of Oxford's Begbroke Science Park in association with BegbrokeNano, a well-established focus of characterisation expertise, and one of the UK Technology Strategy Board's Micro and Nanotechnology (MNT) Centres.
During the weekend students are given information on the latest techniques for nanoparticle characterisation and some of the latest pieces of equipment from manufacturers are demonstrated. Explanations of the principles behind the techniques and demonstrations of the equipment allow students to gain an understanding of how best to characterise nanomaterials.
Over the two days, the presentations, discussions and demonstrations focus on characterisation and problem-solving in surface and interface science and technology as well as characterisation of nanoparticles and nanostructures. In particular, the following groups of techniques are considered:
- Surface specific electron spectroscopic (XPS) and spectrometric (SIMS) techniques;
- Electron-optical analytical and imaging (EPMA/WDS, SEM/EDS, TEM/EDS, HRTEM) techniques;
- Photon spectroscopic (IR and Raman probes) and thin-film profilometry techniques;
- Scanning probe (AFM in various operational modes) and stylus (Dektak) techniques;
- Light scattering for particle characterisation (particle analysis, dynamic light scattering, centrifugal sedimentation, laser diffraction).
What to expect
Overall the course has been designed so that students can study it in the way that works for them. However you want to study, we are aware that this is easiest to do if you are given some idea of how to get the most out of the course. We advise that:
- Most students should expect to spend between 10 and 15 hours each week on independent study in addition to the timetabled tutorials, including all reading, writing and thinking about the course;
- Each unit should take approximately a week to study. The units will make the most sense if studied in the order in which they are presented but can be studied in any order;
- There are a series of review questions designed to let students know whether they have understood a unit, whilst other activities make them draw their learning together;
- Students should work on the module level activities in parallel with studying the main materials.
A small sample of the Fundamental Characterisation for Nanotechnology course is available through our virtual learning environment.
- The course is offered part-time so students can complete it whilst continuing to work full-time;
- The online weeks of the course can be completed from anywhere in the world;
- An induction course site helps to ease students into the course and familiarise themselves with the online course environment, with the added benefit of enabling them to introduce themselves to other participants;
- Tutors provide online support and replicate electronically the famed Oxford tutorial system;
- The course has a dedicated tutor, course director and administration team accustomed to supporting students undertaking distance learning courses;
- Students have access to staff at the University of Oxford’s Begbroke Science Park and Department of Materials, particularly the Course Director, Dr Christiane Norenberg;
- The residential weekend provides an introduction to the practical elements of nanotechnology and equipment demonstrations;
- The weekend gives students the opportunity to meet one another and tutors face-to-face to enhance learning and group work;
- Throughout the course, students can use the University of Oxford’s unrivalled electronic library resources to enable them to complete the assignment tasks.