Surface and Interface Science - Spring of 2021


First meeting: Wednesday, January 20, 10:20 to 11:40 AM room TBD



Course Supervisor: Prof. Sylvie Rangan, Nanophysics Laboratory (NPL) room 208,, 848-445-8419.


The purpose of the course is to acquaint students in physics, chemistry, materials science and electrical engineering with the static and dynamic behavior of clean and adsorbate-covered solid surfaces and interfaces, from both theoretical and experimental points of view. Topics will include geometrical structure, surface morphology, electronic structure, surface composition, kinetics and dynamics (adsorption, scattering, vibrations, diffusion, desorption), structure and reactivity of surface molecules, non-thermal excitations of surfaces, catalysis and surface reactions. We will discuss surfaces of metals, oxides and semiconductors, as well as solid-solid and solid-liquid interfaces. Modern ultrahigh vacuum experimental methods will be discussed: theoretical basis, experimental aspects, and data interpretation. Topical lectures by guest lecturers addressing thin films, nanostructures and low-dimensional systems will also be offered.


The earlier part of the semester will emphasize theoretical and experimental aspects of the electronic and geometric structure of surfaces, and an introduction to adsorption, desorption and diffusion. Later in the semester, we will emphasize important surface processes, including atom and ion scattering, dynamical phenomena, and surface reactions. In addition, we will discuss several important applied areas (e.g., semiconductor processing, nanoscience, heterogeneous catalysis, film growth) where surface science techniques are being exploited.


There should have been four hands-on labs, where you would get some hands-on experience from working with state-of-the-art research equipment: Transmission electron microscopy, Helium ion microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy. These labs will now be adapted to be remote and will replace one lecture in the week they are scheduled.


The main written material for the course will be lecture notes (posted on canvas). The following two books are recommended:


"Physics at Surfaces"

by Andrew Zangwill

(Cambridge U. Press, 1988)

Used copies cost ~$10 on Amazon

"Surface Physics, an Introduction"

by Philip Hofmann

Available for download (pdf format) for ~ $11



The following books have been (or will be) placed on reserve in the Math - Physics Library. You will find them as useful reference books in your career but I do not recommend that you purchase them now:


"Modern Techniques of Surface Science, 2nd Edition", by D. P. Woodruff and T. A. Delchar, (Cambridge U. Press, 1994)

"Practical Surface Analysis" Second Edition, Vol 1, (1990) by D. Briggs and M. P. Seah

"Low Energy Electrons and Surface Chemistry", Second Edition (1985) by G. Ertl and J. Kuppers

"Surface Science, an Introduction", (1992) by J. B. Hudson

"Metal Surface Electron Physics", (1996) by A. Kiejna and K. F. Wojciechowski

"Surfaces and Interfaces of Solids", Second Edition (1993) by H. Luth

"Introduction to Surface Physics", (1994) by M. Prutton

"Introduction to Surface Chemistry and Catalysis", (1994) by G. A. Somorjai

"Principles of Adsorption and Reaction on Solid Surfaces", (1996) by R. I. Masel



Examination: There will be homework assignments and a final paper (~12 pages) on a topic chosen by you in consultation with me, as well as an oral presentation of your paper to the class.


A lecture schedule will be posted soon.