Credit points: 15

Subject outline

In this subject, students will study the principle and practice of operating Scanning Probe Microscopes (SPMs), in particular atomic force microscopy (AFM) scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), and the instrumentation and probes required to implement these techniques. The necessary supporting electronic, vacuum, magnetic, biological, chemical and cryogenic systems will be described and used. Students will also be introduced to the concepts and practice of nanolithography and electrochemical SPM.

SchoolSchool of Molecular Sciences/LIMS

Credit points15

Subject Co-ordinatorDavid Hoxley

Available to Study Abroad StudentsYes

Subject year levelYear Level 5 - Masters

Exchange StudentsYes

Subject particulars

Subject rules

Prerequisites Enrolment in a Master of Nanotechnology single or double degree (SMNT or SZHSNT or SZHSN) or approval of Department of Physics postgraduate co-ordinator.


Incompatible subjects PHY2PM, PHY3SPM

Equivalent subjectsN/A

Special conditionsN/A

Graduate capabilities & intended learning outcomes

01. Analyse, visualise and solve conceptual and mathematical problems related to scanning probe microscopy.

Students are assigned a set of conceptual and mathematical problems to solve in the form of five assignments. Problem-solving techniques are modelled in lectures and partial solutions to selected problems derived in tutorials. Students work individually to prepare and submit complete solutions to meet deadlines occurring regularly throughout the course.

02. Critically review and analyse research data in an ethical manner and interpret the results with reference to the scientific literature in order to develop appropriate conclusions and convey these in an appropriate manner in a written report.

Students prepare individual reports in the style of a professional research journal article which accurately and ethically describes each experiment, its findings and draws appropriate conclusions. Students are provided with a template on which to base their report, along with graded examples of previous students' reports.

03. Design and perform experiments using scanning probe microscopes and associated techniques, equipment and software which produce conclusive and accurate results.

Students conduct, in pairs, three extended laboratory experiments of six hours duration each in close consultation with a staff demonstrator, who assists them in the design and conduct of the experiment.

04. Describe and explain, in appropriate written and verbal style, the findings from laboratory experiments performed by the student. Answer verbal queries about the findings as presented in the context of scanning probe microscopy.

Students prepare and deliver a short individual oral presentation of a journal article selected from a provided list, in the style of a journal club. Students prepare and deliver, in pairs, an oral presentation describing an extended experiment (project) they wish to perform, including hypothesis, techniques, budget and risk assessment. Students prepare and deliver, in pairs, an oral presentation describing the findings of their project and avenues for further research on the topic. This occurs one week prior to submission of the written project report. Each oral assessment is of approximately 15 minutes duration and is presented to a peer group and laboratory demonstrator.

05. Collaborate, in pairs, to complete laboratory experiments and prepare and deliver the oral component of the laboratory assessment. Ethically distinguish between collaborative and individual work.

Demonstrators assess the relative participation of each student in completing the experiment and in the preparation and execution of the oral component of the laboratory assessment. It is repeatedly stressed via the course materials and orally that students in the group are expected to contribute equally to these activities.

06. Describe the recent developments in the fields of scanning probe microscopy and identify areas which constitute interesting research problems. Apply research principles and methods applicable to the field of scanning probe microscopy.

Students are assigned a simple research problem solvable by computational methods, and are expected to solve it individually, in consultation with demonstrators. The approach and results are summarised in a written report, which includes a proposal for extending the project by further work on a related interesting research problem.

Subject options

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Start date between: and    Key dates

Melbourne, 2016, Semester 2, Day


Online enrolmentYes

Maximum enrolment sizeN/A

Enrolment information

Subject Instance Co-ordinatorDavid Hoxley

Class requirements

Lecture Week: 31 - 43
Two 1.0 hours lecture per week on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via face-to-face.

Laboratory Class Week: 31 - 43
One 3.0 hours laboratory class per week on weekdays during the day from week 31 to week 43 and delivered via face-to-face.


Assessment elementComments% ILO*
2-hour written end-of-semester exam (short-answer questions)40 01, 02
Report on research problem (3000 words)10 06
Three x 15-minute oral presentations15 03, 04, 05
Three x 3-page written reports on laboratory activities.15 01, 02
Written project report (10 pages)20 06