Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4B5: Nanotechnology, 2016-17

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4B5: Nanotechnology, 2016-17

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Module Leader

Dr C Durkan


Dr C Durkan

Timing and Structure

Michaelmas term. 12 lectures (including examples classes) + coursework. Assessment: 75% exam/25% coursework


3B5 and 3B6 useful


The aims of the course are to:

  • Introduce the underlying concepts behind nanotechnology and look at examples of it in everyday use.


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • explain basic principles of quantum mechanics.
  • understand how wave phenomena of electrons can be predicted.
  • understand the origin of band structure in solids.
  • appreciate how nanoscale engineering allows for wave based electronic devices to be realised.
  • prepare for design and research in solid state electronic/opto-electronic devices.


The aim of this module is to introduce the basic quantum mechanical principles which underpin the design and operation of modern electronic devices. Mathematical formalism is kept to the minimum required for quantitative analysis of solid state devices. No previous knowledge of quantum phenomena is assumed.

Nanotechnology & quantum phenomena

  • Lecture 1. Introduction to Nanotechnology. The orgins of Quantum Mechanics (QM).
  • Lecture 2. Wave-particle duality, wave equation, momentum, energy and Schrodinger's equation, probability density and normalisation.
  • Lectures 3 & 4. QM expression for electron current, solutions to Schrodinger's equation (finite potential well, infinite barrier-tunnelling). Atoms & molecules. Approximate methods in QM - example, Field Emission.
  • Lecture 5. Atomic vibrations in materials - the simple harmonic oscillator as seen by QM - application to understanding the thermal & electrical properties of materials
  • Lecture 6. Electrons in crystals, Kronig Penney model, energy bands, effective mass and carrier transport, density of states, Conductors Vs insulators.
  • Lecture 7. The future of the transistor & Nanotechnology. Molecular electronics.
  • Lectures 8 & 9. Visulising the nanoworld - scanning probe microscopy.
  • Lectures 10 & 11. Basic device concepts utilizing particle and wave nature of electrons: Quantum wells, 2-D electron gas and high electron mobility transistors (HEMT), resonant tunnelling, ballistic, transistors, optically absorbing and radiating devices.

Further notes

The lectures can be found at the following moodle link: 




4 hour interactive computer simulation on aspects of solid state and quantum electronics. A formal report of the simulation is required (approximately six hours' work).


Please see the Booklist for Group B Courses for references for this module.


Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 31/05/2016 09:15