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master degree course in PHYSICS – FISICA

Course year 1
Teaching units Unit Fundamentals of Nanosciences
Microphysics and Material Structure (lesson)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: FIS/03 CFU: 6
Teachers: Elisa MOLINARI
Exam type oral
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language English
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After the course, the student is expected to understand the main developments of nanoscience. (S)he should be able to control and apply simple theoretical methods to the investigation of low-dimensional systems, to analyze and interpret selected experimental results. (S)he will also have acquired the main concepts at the basis of selected nanodevices.

Admission requirements

No formal requirements. Students are expected to be familiar with the basics of Quantum Physics and of Solid State Physics.

Course contents

Fundamentals of nanoscience
1. Introduction: What is special at the nanoscale
1a. Small is different: Size and scaling
1b. Surface matters: Relevant forces at the nanoscale
1c. Quantum confinement
1d. Electron interactions
1e. Structure / function
1f. Self-assembly, recognition, redundance
2. Low-dimensional systems: examples
2a. Semiconductor nanostructures: quantum wells, wires and dots; superstructures
2b. C-based nanosystems: fullerenes, nanotubes, graphene
2c. Clusters and metal nanoparticles
2d. Molecular-based and supramolecular nanosystems
2e. Brief summary of the strategies for nanostructure formation: growth, lithography, direct writing, nanoimprinting, self-assembly, directed self-assembly, recognition and evolutionary schemes.
3. Concepts and theoretical basis of quantum phenomena at the nanoscale
3a. Quantum confinement of electrons and phonons
3b. Excitons and few-electron interactions
4. "Watching" nanosystems: Concepts and theoretical basis of spectroscopies
4a. Optical properties
4b. Transport properties
4c. STM, AFM, and other scanning probe spectroscopies
5. Concepts of selected nanoscale devices
5a. Diodes, nanotransistors, nanoelectronics
5b. LEDs and lasers
5c. Photovoltaics (incl organic)

Teaching methods

Lectures and discussion/exercise sessions. Most probably the lectures will be recorded and made available asyncronously, owing to the Covid pandemics. Discussion/exercise sessions will be held in presence, and will also be made available remotely (syncronously). Students who are enrolled as 'working students' and cannot attend the lectures should contact the professor to obtain indications for different parts of the program. Office hours: Upon appointment (pls send your request by email to, 3rd floor Physics Building, or possibly by teleconference.

Assessment methods

Oral exam. The final evaluation may also take into account the active participation of students during the course, in discussions and possibly through short presentations.

Learning outcomes

After the course, the student will have learnt fundamentals of nanosciences in terms of phenomena and properties, theoretical and experimental approaches for their investigation, reference frame and example of major classes of nanosystems, and the basic nanodevice concepts and applications.

The student will also be able to apply such knowledge to solve numerical exercises, and build simple models to describe the properties of selected nanosystems and interpret selected experiments.

Thanks to the large set of examples shown during the course, he will be able to identify appropriate methods for different nanosystems. Through the classroom discussions, he will be prepared to recognize critically the assumptions and approximations appropriate for different systems and properties.

Classroom presentations by the students and discussions, together with the the final oral colloquium, will train the student in using the appropriate scientific language and mathematical instruments to present the topics of the courses.

During the course, the student will be guided to use scientific texts and publications, not just textbooks. The student will then be able to learn in an autonomous way also futher topics of current scientific interest.


The texts will be indicated for each topic during the course.