PHY3064 Nanostructures and Graphene Science 2023-24
Prof. M.E. Portnoi
Delivery Weeks: T1:01-11
Level: 6 (NQF)
Credits: 15 NICATS / 7.5 ECTS
Enrolment: 12 students (approx)


In this module students work in groups to prepare presentations for the whole class and follow this by working individually on their own reports, which comprise the majority of the assessed components. The fundamental physics learned in previous core modules on quantum mechanics, solid-state and statistical physics, is used as a basis to describe and explain the operation of devices that exploit both quantum phenomena and the unique characteristics of graphene. As well as demonstrating the application of physics to technology, the module also provides a grounding that will be useful for careers in the electronics and photonics industries.

Module Aims

Our ability to transmit, process, and store information now depends upon the quantum properties of matter and radiation and in some cases may exploit the properties of single quanta. In addition to their potential applications, quantum phenomena continue to provide new ways of probing our understanding of the world and allow us to explore the new physics of nanostructures and nanomaterials, such as graphene.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

A student who has passed this module should be able to:

Syllabus Plan

The schedule of work is as follows:

Week Notes
01 Introductory lecture, assign topic 1, sample page exercise.
02 Seminar on 1st topic, assign topic 2.
03 Seminar on 2nd topic, assign topic 3 (i.e. subject of 1st assessed essay), deadline for submission of essay plan and sample page.
04 Seminar on 3rd topic, assign topic 4.
05 Seminar on 4th topic, assign topic 5 (i.e. subject of 2nd assessed essay).
06 Seminar on 5th topic, assign topic 6. Feedback session on essay plans and sample pages.
07 Seminar on 6th topic, assign topic 7. Deadline for submission of 1st assessed essay.
08 Seminar on 7th topic, assign topic 8.
09 Seminar on 8th topic, decide subject of oral presentations to be based on topic 7 or 8.
10 Groups work on presentations. Feedback for 1st assessed essay.
11 Group presentations.
12 Deadline for submission of 2nd assessed essay.

Because of the rapid change in this area, the topics will be drawn from current research and so those given below are indicative examples only.

  1. Photon Detectors
    Semiconductor based photo detectors; Charge-coupled devices; Photomultipliers.
  2. Microcavities and Photonic Crystals
    3D polaritons, microcavity polaritons; photonic crystal fabrication and optical properties.
  3. Quantum Dots
    Fabrication; basic physics - energy spectrum and density of states; optical properties - oscillator strength and spectra; Coulomb blockade and single-electron transistors.
  4. Quantum Dot Lasers
    Semiconductor lasers; Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting lasers; the advantages of quantum dots.
  5. Physics of Graphene
    Crystal structure; the Dirac equation; single-, bi- and tri-layer graphene band structures; suspended vs supported graphene; Moiré patterns.
  6. Graphene Transistors
    DC electrical transport; chemical sensors; oscillators.
  7. Graphene Optoelectronics and Plasmonics
    Saturable absorber in laser; photovoltaics; touch-screens; plasmonics.
  8. Production of Graphene and Other 2-D Materials
    Carbon nanotubes and nanoribbons; molybdenum sulphide, tungsten sulphide; topological insulators.

Learning and Teaching

Learning Activities and Teaching Methods

Description Study time KIS type
1-hour introductory lecture 1 hours SLT
8×1.5-hour seminars 12 hours SLT
0.5-hour essay plan feedback session 0.5 hours SLT
Working as group on assessed oral presentation 12.5 hours GIS
Research to support own learning requirements 124 hours GIS


Weight Form Size When ILOS assessed Feedback
0% Seminar contribution 9 × 1-hour Weeks T1:02-09 1-6 Verbal
0% Practice essay plan and style-sample 750 words Week T1:03 1-6 Written and verbal
40% Formal report 2500 words Week T1:07 1-6 Written
40% Formal report 2500 words Week T1:12 1-6 Written
20% Oral presentation 20 minutes Week T1:11 1-6 Written and verbal

Notes:  The Assessment Criteria are published in the Physics Handbook.


The following list is offered as an indication of the type & level of information that students are expected to consult. Further guidance will be provided by the Module Instructor(s).

Core text:

Supplementary texts:


Further Information

Prior Knowledge Requirements

Pre-requisite Modules Quantum Mechanics I (PHY2022) and Condensed Matter I (PHY2024)
Co-requisite Modules N/A


Re-assessment is not available except when required by referral or deferral.

Original form of assessment Form of re-assessment ILOs re-assessed Time scale for re-assessment
Module (100%) Examination (100%) 1,3-5 August/September assessment period

Notes: Note: Referred assessment, in the form of prepared essays written under examination conditions, is available for this module. See also the Physics Examination Conventions.

KIS Data Summary

Learning activities and teaching methods
SLT - scheduled learning & teaching activities 13.5 hrs
GIS - guided independent study 136.5 hrs
PLS - placement/study abroad 0 hrs
Total 150 hrs
Summative assessment
Coursework 80%
Written exams 0%
Practical exams 20%
Total 100%


Availability unrestricted
Distance learning NO
Keywords Physics; Quantum; Devices; Electron; Range; Lasers; Photonic; Spin; Quantum devices; Communication; Transistors.
Created 01-Oct-10
Revised 05-Jul-17