Outline of NAN/PHY/MSE 546: Surfaces and Thin Films

John Venables, Dept of Physics, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Return to the 2011 Surfaces Course, the Current Course home page, Course timetable, or the Book contents

I. Logistics

  • Line numbers for Spring 2011 registration: 17865 (NAN 546), 22054 (PHY 546) or 22125 (MSE 546). All these line numbers are valid. We have a Blackboard Shell for the combined sections, which will be useful for various aspects, including submission of reports.
  • Lectures/ Discussions. We have lecture/discussion sessions twice per week on Tuesdays/ Thursdays, but in addition I will be providing materials and responding to emails. We will sort out group email arrangements to suit the participants, which may include students using the Group discussion features in Blackboard, or something more informal.
  • Book references will be provided, and reference will be made to the original literature, and to resources on the web. The 2011 draft Timetable, an initial Assignments page, and a page of Web-based Resources are on the web; these will be further developed as the course proceeds.
  • The first meeting in 2011 will be on Tuesday, January 18 at 1.30-2.45 in ECG G-wing room (G320). Students who don't make this time should come on Thursday, Jan 20. The first two weeks of the course are being taught by Dr Peter Bennett. If you don't make the first class, please contact me and Dr Bennett by email as soon as possible.
  • The books needed are in the ASU Noble Library and are currently on reserve. For those who have not attended a course on Surface Physics, a start should be made to look at one of the basic textbooks: M. Prutton 'Introduction to Surface Physics' (Oxford,1994); D.P. Woodruff and T.A. Delchar 'Modern Techniques of Surface Science' (Cambridge, 1986 and 1994); A. Zangwill 'Physics at Surfaces' (Cambridge, 1988). The established text which is closest in spirit to the course is H. Lüth 'Surfaces and Interfaces of Solids' (Springer, 1993 and 1995). The 4th Edition of Lüth's book is called 'Solid Surfaces, Interfaces and Thin Films' (Springer, 2001). My own book, J.A. Venables 'Introduction to Surface and Thin Film Processes' (Cambridge, 2000) has been published as a result of giving this course over several years; it comments on these books and is complementary to them; there are section by section updates, which should also be consulted. A relatively new (2006) book by H. Ibach is available, and we will look at this book as appropriate. Students should consider purchasing the book which is closest to their needs, and have access to several of the others.
  • Assignments: There will be 3 forms of assignment: problems, presentations by students, and essays/mini-projects, with a substantial element of choice. Access to the web is by now essential and familiarity with Mozilla or Internet Explorer, Web of Science, etc, is needed.
  • Office Hours: Tu 3:00-4:40 pm, W 1.30-2.45, Th 3.00-3.45 pm in PSB-137, or by appointment: phone (480) 965-1675; Please use email exclusively for the first two weeks of this course, or contact Dr Bennett.
  • My whereabouts and e-mail address can be found by clicking here.

II. Prerequisites

  • There are no absolute Physics prerequisites for NAN/PHY/MSE 546, but Phyisics PhD students should be reasonably far on with their graduate courses, and have taken a previous graduate course in condensed state, statistical mechanics and quantum physics. Chemistry, Materials Science or Engineering students should have taken most of this material in one form or another, but I will adapt my level and style to those that register. Students on the PSM in Nanoscience should preferably have Introduction to Nanoscience, and Materials Physics I as either pre- or co-requisites, or have equivalent experience. Professionals in industry and off-campus students should first make contact by email, so that we can discuss the appropriateness of the course for your interests and background.

III. Outline Course Description

I have given a course with the title 'Surface Physics' for several years and this has attracted a wide interdisciplinary group of students. In recent years, I have updated some lecture material. But, using the fact that my book is now published, I have often given a detailed description of 'Surface and Thin Film Processes', the thermodynamics and kinetics of atomistic processes taking place at surfaces, and in thin films. The actual topics discussed will depend on individual student interests; as a rough guide, the following topics 1-3 will be tackled before Spring break. Previous lectures can be found here.

    1. Introduction to surface processes

  • Thermodynamic ideas of surfaces; Surface energy and the Wulff theorem; The Terrace-Ledge-Kink Model; Thermodynamic and kinetic examples; Introduction to surface reconstructions and surface electronics.
  • 2. Surfaces in vacuum, ultra-high vacuum techniques

  • Kinetic theory and Vacuum concepts. UHV hardware, Pumping and System design, Pressure measurement. Surface preparation, Cleaning procedures. In-situ experiments and laboratory visit.

    3. Examination of Surfaces

  • Structure, chemical analysis and microscopy; Diffraction techniques for structure; Inelastic scattering techniques for analysis; Microscopic examination of surfaces, including UHV-based electron and scanned probe microscopy.

IV. Special topics and projects

A selection of the following topics will be given, mostly after Spring break, taking student preferences into account. Parts of these topics may be chosen, in consultation, as projects which will form part of the assessment.

    A. Electric and magnetic processes at metal surfaces

  • Free electron models and the work function; Electron emission phenomena; Magnetic processes at surfaces; Conduction processes in thin films.
  • B. Electronic and optical processes at semiconductor surfaces

  • Structural and electronic effects; Case studies of reconstructed surfaces; Metals and oxides in contact with semiconductors; Electrical and optical effects in semiconductor heterojunctions and devices.
  • C. Atomic processes in adsorption

  • Surface processes in physi- and chemi-sorption; Phase diagrams and phase transitions in mono- and multi-layers; Chemisorption and chemical reactions.
  • D. Equilibrium forms and crystal growth mechanisms

  • Equilibrium, evaporation and growth forms; Surface steps and crystal growth; Surface diffusion; Phase transitions and facetting.
  • E. Growth mechanisms in hetero-epitaxy

  • Growth modes and nucleation barriers; Atomistic models and rate equations; Experimental and model studies; Strain relaxation mechanisms; Pattern formation.

Return to the 2011 Surfaces Course, the Current Course home page Course timetable, or the Book contents


Latest version of this document: 15th July 2012, ex 18th January 2011.