Syllabus for Surface Physics



  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 1FA588
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1F, Materials Science A1F
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2014-03-13
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2020-10-21
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 27, 2021
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits and Introduction to Material Science and Chemical bonding in Molecules and Materials. English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6").
  • Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy

Learning outcomes

The course will prepare for fundamental and applied research within surface physics and related fields, such as material science, material chemistry and nanoscience.

On completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • describe the atomic structure of crystalline low-index surfaces, and using simple models calculate surface energies for simple surfaces and show the connection between the surface energy and the shape of particles and reconstructions of surfaces,
  • use the connection between real space and reciprocal space to show how this gives rise to diffraction patterns and master the different notations used to assign overlayers and reconstructions,
  • describe the principles behind the most important spectroscopic and microscopic methods used in surface science, which information that is attained from these techniques and how various methods can be combined,
  • explain the characteristics for different kinds of adsorption with respect to binding energy, binding distance, surface coordination and electronic structure,
  • derive and apply basic kinetic models for the processes of adsorption and diffusion,
  • describe fundamental catalytic reactions, derive simple kinetic models that describe these reactions and show how one can diagnose the reaction,
  • describe different ways to grow films and how the growth mode is connected to the surface energy of the materials.


Surface structure, stability and reactivity. Surface crystallography. Reconstructions and relaxation. Surface electronic structure. Experimental methods for surface electronic structure. Adsorption of atoms and molecules. Different types of bonding. Kinematics and dynamics of surface processes. Reactions on surfaces. Heterogeneous catalysis. Epitaxial growth. Layer-by-layer growth and island formation. Properties of interfaces. Segregation. Research presentations are also given.
Instruments and their construction: x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), low energy electron diffraction (LEED) and scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM).


Lectures, exercises, group discussions and demonstrations.


Oral examination at the end of the course. Hand-in problems. Non mandatory oral presentation during the course. A bonus system based on hand-ins and/or oral presentation is used.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the disability coordinator of the university.

Other directives

The course may not be included in the same higher education qualifications as 1FA554 Surface and interface physics.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 28, 2021

  • Attard, Gary; Barnes, Colin Surfaces

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

    Find in the library