Graduate Course: Surfaces and Thin Films

John Venables, Department of Physics, Arizona State University,Tempe, Arizona,
and London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, UK.

NAN/PHY/MSE 546: Surfaces and Thin Films

Enrollment in this course for Spring 2011 can be either as NAN 546, line number 17865, as PHY 546, line number 22054, or as MSE 546, line number 22125. These three sections form a combined course which has a single Blackboard site. I am developing this for the future for both PhD, MS (Thesis) and, in the context of the PSM in Nanoscience degree program, for PSM students. I have previously offered NAN 546 over the Internet, but in practice that option will not be formally available this year. Nonetheless, much of the material is on the web, and can be accessed from these pages and from the combined Blackboard site.

My other ASU course until relatively recently was PHY 571: Quantum Physics; the course pages have be left on my site as a resource. Since Fall 2008 this course has ben given by Dr Dmitry Matyushov. His course pages are at

If you need to know how we've got to this point, consult the 1996-2010 history panel. The main resource base is a series of Lecture notes which have been built up over the last few years, coupled with Student projects which are ongoing. These notes have been edited and expanded into a book, Introduction to Surface and Thin Film Processes, published by Cambridge University Press (2000). This book is open to the web for comments, problems and projects. It is included in the course recommendations, and it is obviously helpful if all the students have a copy! There are also other books that we may consult, and several of them are on reserve in the ASU Noble Library. Thus the course will mainly follow a reading/conference/project pattern, taking student preferences into account. However, if we have enough students, and enough time, we may update some more lecture notes during the semester.

For ASU and local students, we will meet on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays from 1.30-2.45 pm, starting 18 January 2011; The first two weeks of the course will be given by Dr Peter Bennett. The most recent Timetable, Timetable-Two (after Spring Break) Outline, and Assignments may be consulted. Progress during Spring 2011 will be updated from these pages. Associated with my graduate courses, I am building up some Web-based Resources which concentrate on surface and thin films, but which contain additional material of more general interest.

Course notes and diagrams will be handed out as needed. If you want these ahead of time, or have other queries, please e-mail me at . I particularly would like to hear from off-campus students before they try to register for this course. If you indicate your interest I can send you an email indicating what to do.

If you want further details of either course, or want to add material to the resource base, please consult the associated web pages and then email me with an indication of your interests and needs.

Surface Courses: 1996-2010

I taught 'Surface Physics' at ASU in the Spring Semester 1996, putting emphasis on 'Surface Processes', which is close to my research speciality. We had graduate students, post-docs and faculty attend from Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, including the SEM program.

The course contents and lecture notes were put up on the web, in a form which can be downloaded anywhere. These notes do not as yet include many diagrams, (except for a test case, section 1.5) as this involves much more work and also raises thorny issues, including copyright. Students on the course received the diagrams in class or in the mail. I also experimented with teaching some students at other Universities, interacting primarily via e-mail.

In the Fall Semester of 1997 I used and developed these notes further in connection with graduate lectures at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland. An ordered list of both the ASU and EPFL lectures is given in Lecture Notes.

The 1996-97 files were last revised and updated for the course in 2003, 2005 and 2009; these form a good starting point for your study anytime. Alternatively, you may consult my book, Introduction to Surface and Thin Film Processes, published by Cambridge University Press (2000). However, there is more material in the book than can be covered in one semester, and a key point of the course is that topics can be selected according to individual needs.

Web-based Talks and Articles

Over the last several years, I have been writing and giving talks on the use of the web as a supplement to teaching, particularly at graduate level, based in large part on the experience gained in these classes. The shells of the most recent talks can be accessed.

Latest version of this document: 18th January 2011, amended 1/13/2013.