KD7028 - Soft and Nanomaterials

What will I learn on this module?

This module is aimed at equipping students with subject specialist knowledge at the forefront of research in soft and nano-materials. The module has a particular focus on developing professional skills linked to understanding and critically appraising the current landscape of research in soft condensed matter.

The content of the module is informed by research within the Faculty of Engineering and Environment including soft and biological matter physics and the application of quantum mechanics. Soft and biological matter physics involves concepts in fluid dynamics and statistical physics underpinning fluid dynamical systems at small scales including super-hydrophobic surfaces, microscopic motility and colloidal systems. The application of quantum mechanics is explored through nanostructures such as quantum dots, nanocrystals, nanowires, core-shell nanostructures. Furthermore, students are introduced to a range of techniques used to produce these nanostructures as well as characterization techniques.

How will I learn on this module?

The module is delivered using a substantial amount of directed independent learning supported by lectures and seminars. Lectures are used to introduce advanced concepts in physics include the relevant mathematical formalism. Plenary discussion around topics is highly encouraged as students explore the boundaries of frontier subjects in physics. This provides a basis for seminars which provide an opportunity to deepen students understanding through further discussion and problem solving.

Seminars are also used to provide feedback to students both from the academic staff but also from their peer group. This module provides a collegial environment for active scientific discussion and engagement, thus strengthening students’ employability through knowledge and critical thinking about the current physics research landscape. Problem sets will be made available to students prior to seminars and wherever possible, practical demonstrations may occur in the Faculty’s laboratories.

Summative assessment is via coursework (20%) and a written closed-book examination (80%). The coursework assessment will be an assignment covering aspects of soft matter, low Reynolds number hydrodynamics or fabrication and characterisation of nanomaterials. The examination will cover all aspects of the module and assess the student’s ability to formulate and solve problems mathematically as well as conceptually.

Independent study is supported by further technology-enhanced resources provided via the e-learning portal, including lecture notes, source open-access journal papers, and examples of past assignments.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

In addition to direct contact with the module team during lectures and seminars, students are encouraged to develop their curiosity by making direct contact with the module team either via email or the open door policy operated throughout the programme. Students will also be regularly referred to supporting resources including relevant texts and multimedia relevant to soft matter and nanomaterials. References to these resources will be made available through the e-learning portal and in lectures and seminars.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• Explain how the laws of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, fluid dynamics and quantum mechanics jointly determine the behaviour of soft and nanomaterials
• Combine concepts to formulate and solve problems relating to soft and condensed matter systems

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• Analyse the underlying physical mechanisms governing the equilibrium and dynamical properties of model soft and condensed matter systems
• Critically evaluate the underpinning physical mechanisms for the design of existing or novel soft and nanomaterials

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• Assess the role of soft and nanomaterials in improving quality of life and sustainability

How will I be assessed?

1. Coursework (20%) – KU1, KU2, IPSA2, PVA1
2. Exam (80%) – KU1, KU2, IPSA1

1. Seminars KU1, KU2, ISPA1, IPSA2

Exam feedback will be provided individually and also generically to indicate where the cohort has a strong or a weaker answer to examination questions. Written feedback will be provided on coursework. Formative feedback will be provided during seminars.





Module abstract

Physics-informed research is increasingly shaping the development of cutting-edge technologies, including quantum-devices, smart materials and biologically inspired systems. This module is aimed at equipping you with subject-specialist knowledge at the forefront of research in soft and nano-materials. The module has a particular focus on developing professional skills linked to understanding and critically appraising the current landscape of research in soft condensed matter. Formal learning will occur through a combination of lectures and seminars, and supported via technology-enhanced resources through highly specialised computational and lab demonstrations. Assessment will be through an individual 5,000-word report (20%) and a closed-book examination (80%). This module will provide you with specialist knowledge, a comprehensive grasp and critical view of the current research landscape in soft and condensed matter physics thus strengthening your skills-base for future study and employability.

Course info

UCAS Code F301

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023 or September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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