Thin Film Science (NANO*3500)

Code and section: NANO*3500*01

Term: Fall 2018

Instructor: Miranda Schmidt


Course Information


Miranda Schmidt
MACN 330 (ext. 53985)


Monday, Wednesday, Friday
11:30 am – 12:20 pm
MACN 201

Office Hours

TBA and by appointment, please email.

Laboratory Technician

Jay Leitch
SCIE 2107 (ext. 56262)


2:30 – 5:20 pm
SCIE 2109/2110

Office Hours

TBA and by appointment, please email.

Course Website

Course materials and announcements will be available on CourseLink.

Course Calendar Description

The deposition and growth of thin layers of materials is an important process on the production of many devices. This course will study the various methods by which thin films are grown including physical and chemical vapour deposition, molecular beam epitaxy, atomic layer epitaxy, and self-assembled monolayers. Experimental techniques for analyzing the properties of thin films will also be discussed.

Prerequisite(s): NANO*2100


H.-J. Butt, K. Graf and M. Kappl, Physics and Chemistry of Interfaces, Third Edition (Wiley-VCH, 2013)

Major Concepts


  • liquid versus solid surfaces
  • surface tension
  • wetting of surfaces
    - contact angle
  • surface and interfacial forces
    - van der Waals forces
    - electrical double layer
  • adsorption onto surfaces
    - surface thermodynamics
    - surface isotherms

Thin Films

  • deposition techniques
    - vacuum deposition
    - chemical vapour deposition
    - spincoating
    - self-assembly
    - Langmuir-Blodgett deposition
  • thin film instabilities
  • thin film characterization techniques
  • other topics

Course Learning Objectives

This course will use a multidisciplinary approach to present new concepts and build on concepts covered in previous physics, chemistry and nanoscience courses. The objectives of this course are:

  1. Introduce physical concepts and mathematical tools used to describe surfaces, interfaces and thin films
    - Develop an intuition for surface and thin film physical principles through plotting of functions using Maple
  2. Relate the mathematical results to practical applications and experiments
    - Develop an appreciation of the mathematical basis for experimental techniques for deposition and analysis of thin films
  3. Understand physical phenomena that can be exploited for the deposition of thin films
    - Demonstrate knowledge of different thin film deposition strategies
  4. Develop proficiency for experimental techniques used to deposit and characterize thin films
    - Demonstrate laboratory and data analysis skills
  5. Expand scientific writing skills to develop effective communication
    - Develop ability to analyze and synthesize implications of key results of published scientific studies

Course Assessments

Assessment Weight
Assignments – 4 total, deadlines throughout semester 15%
Report and Presentation on Research Paper 10%
Laboratory 25%
Midterm – Friday, October 19, Time/Room: TBA 20%
Final Exam – December 10, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, Room: TBA 30%
Total 100%


There will be four (4) homework assignments with deadlines throughout the semester.
Homework 1: Wednesday, September 26
Homework 2: Wednesday, October 10
Homework 3: Wednesday, November 7
Homework 4: Wednesday, November 2

Critical Review Paper and Presentation

You will be required to write a critical review of a published scientific research paper related to the topics in this course. In addition, you will give a short presentation about the main findings of your chosen paper to the rest of the class. Details will be announced in class.


For details please refer to the laboratory manual on CourseLink.

Midterm examination

Friday, October 19 (time TBA). The midterm is worth 20% of the total course grade.

Final examination

Friday, December 10, 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, location TBA. The final exam is cumulative and is worth 30% of the total course grade.

Late Assignments

The assignments and the report on the research paper are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, marks will be deducted for lateness (10% per day). Marks will also be deducted for errors in English grammar and spelling in all work submitted for grading.

Other Information and Policies

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communications between the University and its students.

Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the undergraduate calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration.

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring. University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the Undergraduate Calendar.


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability, should contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) as soon as possible.
For more information, contact SAS at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or visit the SAS website.

Course Evaluation Information

Information about the date and time of the course evaluation will be made available during the semester.

Drop date

The last date to drop one-semester courses, without academic penalty, is November 2, 2018. For regulations and procedures for Dropping Courses, see the Undergraduate Calendar.