You are here: Home » Study Plan » Subject


Subject: NANO-MECHANICS (A.A. 2020/2021)

master degree course in PHYSICS – FISICA

Course year 1
Teaching units Unit Nano-mechanics
Experimental and Applied Studies (lesson)
  • TAF: Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class SSD: FIS/01 CFU: 6
Teachers: Alberto ROTA
Exam type oral
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language English
Contents download pdf download


Alberto ROTA


After the course, the students will have learned how materials respond to mechanical stresses. In particular, the focus will be on the main techniques used to characterize tribologically and mechanically the materials at the nanoscale.
The students should be able to measure some mechanical and tribological properties of materials in the laboratory.

Admission requirements

No formal requirements. Students are expected to be familiar with the basics of Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics.

Course contents

Materials response to mechanical stresses
- Crystal defects. Elastic/Plastic deformations.
- Essential continuum mechanics: Stress tensor. Linearly elastic response.
Elastic constants and elastic moduli.
- Mechanical properties of materials: Tensile, compressive, and shear stresses. Hardness, toughness, and fatigue.
- Tribological properties of materials: Adhesion. Friction. Lubrication.

Measuring the mechanical properties of materials
- An overview of the techniques for the mechanical and tribological characterization of material surfaces/interfaces. In particular the description of atomic force microscope will be deepened.
- Modification of the tribo-machanical properties of materials: surface texturing, functional coatings.
- Case study and lab. experiences:
Experimental measure of friction with standard tribomter in different humidity. Analysis of the wear tracks.
Measure of friction with AFM.

Teaching methods

Lectures. Experimental laboratory.

Assessment methods

Oral exam. The final evaluation may also require a short presentation of a case studied in experimental laboratory.

Learning outcomes

After the course, the students the students will have learned how materials respond to mechanical stresses.

The students will be guided to observe the material response to mechanical stresses both at the nano- and macro-scale. They should become able to measure selected mechanical and tribological properties in the laboratory.

A significant part of the course will be spent in laboratory, were the student will become familiar with some apparata for the tribo-mechanical characterization of materials at the nanoscale, learing to design and manage an experiment.

During the course, the student will learn to use scientific texts and publications, not just textbooks. The student will then be able to search selected information in the scientific literature.

In preparation of the final oral colloquium, the student will be trained to prepare a short research project and present it using the appropriate scientific language.


Mechanical Behavior of Materials
Marc Andre ́ Meyers and Krishan Kumar Chawla
Cambridge University Press