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MSc Nanotechnology


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The MSc in Nanotechnology and the Postgraduate Diploma in Nanotechnology are designed for graduates from the physical sciences and from relevant engineering disciplines who wish to enter this new and exciting arena, either as industrial researchers, technical managers or academic researchers.

Nanotechnology is rapidly establishing itself as a key technology, in industries ranging from microelectronics to health care, with a consequent demand for appropriately trained graduates. The MSc in Nanotechnology is run in conjunction with the department of Physics and Astronomy and the London Centre for Nanotechnology. The programme consists of taught courses (60%) and a research project (you can view a selection of recent project titles) with dissertation (40%).

The Diploma in Nanotechnology programme consists only of the taught course elements without the research project or dissertation.

Individual course syllabi may change slightly in detail from time to time, as with any programme reflecting an active and rapidly developing area. The course can also be taken as a part time course (over 2 years).

LCN Building

The London Centre for Nanotechnology, LCN, is a UK based multidisciplinary enterprise operating at the forefront of science and technology. Structured to form the bridge between the physical and biomedical sciences, it brings together two of the world’s leading institutions in Nanotechnology, namely University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London.

A mission of the LCN is to provide leading edge training in nanotechnology to the workforce and help educate the public. A new £14 million research building has just been completed on the UCL site, furnished with £10 million state of the art equipment, and a £1m teaching facility is in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.

For further information, read more about the activities of the LCN.

Nanoelectronic Devices (NED, NANOGE02)
This course deals with electronic, optical, liquid crystal and magnetic devices in which the device dimensions (at the nanoscale) play the key role in dictating their functionality. Spintronic devices (including spin valves and MRAM devices), nanoscale semiconductor electronic devices (including CMOS at sub-15nm gate length, III-V and wide-bandgap devices),solid state devices for quantum computation (including Josephson junctions and quantum dots) and nanoscale photonic devices (including photonic bandgap materials) will also be covered. The basic properties of liquid crystals and their display and non-display applications will also be covered down to the nanoscale. The course will also discuss the way in which molecular properties of the organic materials are important in their use in current production and research level electronic devices.
Physical Science for Nanotechnology (PSN, NANOGC02)
The course will focus on the core aspects of the physical sciences which are relevant to nanotechnology. The aim of the course is a full understanding of how the dimensions of a nanoscale device impact upon its electronic, optical, magnetic, structural and chemical properties. The course will therefore provide an introduction to key elements of quantum and statistical physics, solid state physics, semiconductor devices, maganetism and superconductivity, basic atomic and molecular physics.
Nanoscale Processing and Characterisation for Advanced Devices (NPC, NANOGC04)
Device Engineering on the nanoscale presents difficulties in terms of material selection, device fabrication and processing and characterisation. This course explores the development of silicon technology from 90nm design rules to 32nm and below, in terms of lithographic patterning, dielectrics, masking and deposition requirements. The extension of ‘Moores Law’ below 15nm will require CMOS to be replaced by different device design strategies which will also be considered. Nanodevice fabrication with III-V semiconductors will be addressed along with wide band-gap materials. ‘Top-down’ approaches to nanolithography will be contrasted with ‘bottom-up’ strategies involving chemical self-assembly and the spontaneous formation and ordering of nanostructures. The synthesis and properties of nanoparticles, nano-clusters, nanotubes, nanowires and nanodots will be addressed. The nature of surfaces on the nanoscale will be studied and a wide range of characterisation methods that are required to give information on nanometre structures explored.
Instrumentation and Physical Techniques in the Life Sciences (PTL, CPLXG005)
Aim: To provide a basic understanding of the molecular building blocks and probes in biological systems, their basic physical properties and interactions. How these are probed in a wide range of environments (e.g: within cells, the blood, in vivo, and engineered environments (i.e. bio-materials) using precision optical spectroscopy, optical imaging, tomography and scanning probe microscopy.
Experimental Techniques for Nanotechnology (ETN, NANOGC03)
The laboratory course will give a hands-on introduction to imaging, nanomanipulation and fabrication techniques for nanotechnology. Students will have access to a range of state-of-the art instruments including scanning tunneling microscopes (STM), atomic force microscopes (AFM), confocal microscopes and a well-equipped clean room. There will be opportunities to fabricate nanoscale devices and characterise them electrically, physically and optically. The emphasis in this course is on practical work but it will also cover the use of computational and modelling tools.
Nanotechnology and Society (NAS, NANOGC05)
This course integrates three broad areas: science and technology policy, ethics, and science communication. Students are introduced to key general principles in each area, then investigate their relevance to nanotechnology. For instance, we examine what kinds of policy regimes and ethical discussions influence current developments in the field. We also consider frameworks used in different settings for the public understanding of nanotechnology. The overall aim of this course is to encourage critical reflection and discussion of the broader social and political interests, values, and institutions shaping developments in the field
This course will involve three one-day sessions (15 hours class time in total). Assessment is based on a portfolio of coursework created out of the three main areas of this course.
Research Project (NANOGC99)
This will be an extensive project on an experimental or theoretical topic, involving literature review, research planning, and execution of a research programme.
The research project is a key component of the MSc, and gives students the opportunity to work in one of the Nanotechnology research groups on a project at the forefront of Nanotechnology research. Students will have access to the state-of-the-art facilities in LCN, along with those in individual departments (Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Physics and Chemistry, amongst others). Research groups at UCL cover an exceptionally broad spectrum of research, from fundamental theory to novel nanomaterials and devices, to systems-on-a-chip. Projects are available in theoretical groups and in heavily experimental research.

Three options need to be chosen from these:

Innovation Practices (IP, MSING713)
The course aims to equip students with an understanding of the main issues in innovation management, an awareness of the key features of success, and an appreciation of the relevant skills needed to manage innovation. How do opportunities for innovation arise? What is the right managerial strategy to innovate successfully? Does the size matter: innovative activities in small and large companies. How can social capital make innovative activities more successful? What is the best way to manage R&D; projects and how can companies profit from their innovations? Finally, are open innovation and social innovation as exciting as they sound?
Nanotechnology and Healthcare (NTH, NANOGE01)
This course covers the application of nano-technology to both devices and instrumentation for the doctor-patient interface, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical research laboratory and, in its more advanced techniques, to the hospital environment. The course includes descriptions and discussions of the underpinning techniques, the present state of the art, the future potential, the business context and the regulatory constraints.
Quantum Computation and Communication (QCC, PHASG427)
The course aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to the emerging field of quantum information (the basic notions such as quantum cryptography, quantum algorithms, teleportation and the like, as well as state of the art experiments), so that the student is well prepared for research (both academic and industrial) in the area.
Order and Excitations in Condensed Matter (OEC, PHASG472)
The course aims to provide a unified description of order and excitations in condensed matter with an emphasis on how they may be determined with modern x-ray and neutron techniques.
Topics: Atomic Scale Structure of Material, Magnetism: Moments, Environments and Interactions, Order and Magnetic Structure, Scattering Theory, Excitations of Crystalline Materials, Magnetic Excitations, Sources of X-rays and Neutrons, Modern Spectroscopic Techniques, Phase transitions and Critical Phenomena, Local Order in Liquids and Amorphous Solids.
Molecular Physics (MOP, PHASG431)
The course aims to introduce the students to a detailed discussion of the spectroscopy and electronic states of polyatomic molecules. Topics: Molecular structure: Born-Oppenheimer approximation; Electronic structure ionic and covalent bonding, H2, H2+; Vibrational and rotational structure. Molecular spectra: Microwave, infrared and optical spectra of molecules; Selection rules, Experimental set-ups and examples; Raman spectroscopy. Ortho-para states. Molecular processes: Collisions with electrons and heavy particles; Experimental techniques.
Plastic and Molecular Electronics (PME, PHASG474)
Organic semiconducting (macro)molecules; Polymer-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs), Polymer-based photovoltaic diodes (PVDs), Polymer-based field-effect transistors, FETs, Molecular switches and motors, Supramolecular structures and dendrimers, Insulated molecular wires, IMWs and threaded molecular wires (TMWs). Discotic systems (e.g. hexabenzocoronenes (HBC), porphyrine and phthalocyanine, rylenes, perylenes, terrylenes, and quaterrylenes). Core-shell and other encapsulated systems. Biological and/or biomimetic structure of potential interest. Dendrimers and dendronised materials as a tool to control supramolecular architectures. Potential applications.
Physics and Optics of Nano-Structure (PON)
Research on nanostructures has revolutionized the field of optics and optical devices. This course will focus on unique optical properties of structures with dimensions smaller than the optical wavelength. From the fundamental principles to the latest advances in research, the course will explore light-matter interactions on the nanometer scale, size effects in small objects and the use of nano-structures in modern optical devices. The aim of the course is to provide an introduction the diverse field of nano-optics.
Molecular Biophysics (MOB, PHASG800)
The course will provide the students with insights in the physical concepts of some of the most fascinating processes that have been discovered in the last decades: those underpinning the molecular machinery of the biological cell. These concepts will be introduced and illustrated by a wide range of phenomena and processes in the cell, including biomolecular structure, DNA packing in the genome, molecular motors and neural signalling.
Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice (MSI, MSING004)
A series of lectures and seminars leading up to the production of a research proposal and a case study in business entrepreneurship.

 Nanotechnology could lead to many exciting commercial opportunities. The new technology has the potential to create new or dramatically improve many products and processes. Estimates predict a global market in nanotechnology worth over $1trillion in a decade, and it is vital the UK gains a significant share of this. 

Lord Sainsbury, Science and Innovation Minister, UK, [2004]

In order to be eligible for an MSc or Postgraduate Diploma award, a student must complete all components of the programme satisfactorily. The overall MSc mark is weighted at 60% for the taught module examinations and coursework and 40% for the project work and dissertation; the Postgraduate Diploma is assessed only on the taught module examinations and coursework. To obtain an MSc award, students must obtain pass marks in the taught modules and in the project. MSc degrees are not classified in the manner of an undergraduate degree but for an exceptional performance a mark of Distinction may be awarded.