Chemistry and Physics of Surfaces and Interfaces

By Prof. Thiruvancheril G. Gopakumar   |   IIT Kanpur
Learners enrolled: 496
The course discusses about the general chemical and physical properties of surfaces of crystalline materials. Further the course will build up on the procedure of atomic level construction of surfaces from the bulk crystals and the nomenclature of different surfaces. We will try to understand the formation of different types of interfaces, like metal-metal, metal semiconductor, metal-molecule etc. and its significance in applications. The course will also cover the microscopic (scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopies) and spectroscopic (X-ray and UV photoelectron spectroscopy) understanding of surface and interfaces.

INTENDED AUDIENCE  :  Any Interested Learners
PREREQUISITES  :  Solid state chemistry
INDUSTRY SUPPORT  :  Companies that are working in the filed of thin films.
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 8 weeks
Category :
  • Chemistry
Credit Points : 2
Level : Postgraduate
Start Date : 25 Jul 2022
End Date : 16 Sep 2022
Enrollment Ends : 08 Aug 2022
Exam Date : 25 Sep 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week-1: General introduction to solid surfaces and interfaces of materials. Why surface is different or important? Applications of surface and interfaces in modern technology. Microscopic structure of different type of clean surfaces and the construction of surfaces from bulk crystals. 
Week-2: 2D Bravais lattices, nomenclature of clean surfaces, reconstructions on surfaces, stepped and corrugated surfaces and its reactivity. Elementary processes of gas-surface interaction, adsorption (physical and chemical) and interface formation. 
Week-3: Ultra-high vacuum (UHV) technology and its importance in surface science, adsorbates on surfaces, adsorbate lattice and the microscopic understanding, nomenclature of adsorbate layer on surfaces. 
Week-4: Type of interfaces like metal-metal/semiconductor and metal-molecule interfaces. Self-assembly of molecules on surfaces. Methods for preparation of thin films (Physical and chemical methods). 
Week-5: Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Operation and principle. 
Week-6: Application of STM and AFM in characterizing microscopic structure of different surfaces and interfaces. Electronic structure of surfaces and interfaces using STM. 
Week-7: X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and UV-Vis photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS), principle and significance as a surface analysis tool.
Week-8: Applications of UPS in understanding the electronic structure of surfaces and interfaces. Application of XPS: revealing the chemical properties of surface and interfaces.

Books and references

1) Introduction to solid state physics by Charles Kittel 
2) Introduction to surface chemistry and catalysis by Gabor A. Somorjai, Yimin Li 
3) Additional materials will be provided

Instructor bio

Prof. Thiruvancheril G. Gopakumar

IIT Kanpur
Dr. Thiruvancheril G. Gopakumar completed his BSc from Mahatma Gandhi University in 1998. After completing his MSc in Physical Chemistry from School of Chemical Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University in 2001, he moved to National Chemical Laboratory, Pune for a year. He completed his PhD in 2006 at Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany in experimental condensed matter physics. Then he moved to Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel, Germany and was a PostDoc till 2013. In 2013 he joined Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India as an Assistant Professor. Now he is working as an Associate Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. His major areas of research are molecular thin films, 2D molecular materials for electronic applications, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy, Atomic Force Microscopy, low temperature and vacuum surface analysis tools, XPS. So far, he has supervised three PhDs and mentored around 10 Master theses. He has around 42 research articles and two book chapter contributions. He was awarded the Young Research Fellowship of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 25 September 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Kanpur .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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