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CDT in Science and Applications of Graphene and Related Nanomaterials (Graphene NOWNANO CDT)

Researcher looking through microscope in a lab

Taught programme

To prepare you for truly innovative interdisciplinary PhD projects, the Graphene NOWNANO CDT programme commences with a six-month taught programme of lecture courses and literature and lab based projects.

These cover a wide range of topics including fundamental and applied materials physics, chemistry, engineering, technology (nanofabrication, self-assembly, device manufacturing), characterisation (spectroscopic techniques, microscopy) and applications from device engineering to nanomedicine.

Getting to know academics and students from other university Faculties has helped me progress my work on a number of occasions. The taught program helped to foster these future collaborations and broadened my understanding of the applications of graphene.

Sebastian Leaper / CDT graduate based in the department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science

The programme consists of four lecture courses, two extended 12-week laboratory projects and two enquiry-based learning projects. The taught programme is delivered almost entirely at The University of Manchester by Manchester and Lancaster University academics, apart from some lab projects that are based at Lancaster University.

The emphasis is on team work, with the projects typically done in small groups of mixed-subject backgrounds. So if you are a physicist, you can expect to work with a chemist, an engineer and a biologist, etc.

Lecture courses

There are three core courses which all students cover during the programme.

Core 1: Fundamentals of Graphene and Nanomaterials 1

This module will be delivered during semester 1 using a combination of lectures and workshops and will be assessed by coursework.

Part 1: 2D materials from a solid state physics perspective

Example topics covered:

  • Structural properties of solids.
  • Bragg scattering and X-ray crystallography.
  • Band structure for electrons in solids.

Part 2: Device fabrication and application of 2D materials

Example topics covered:

  • 2D transistors.
  • Sensors and detectors based on tunnelling phenomena.
  • Optical applications of 2D materials.

Part 3: Basic nano-mechanics and practical considerations

Example topics covered:

  • Nano-mechanical basics in relation to simple materials and complex biomechanics.

Part 4: Chemical approaches towards nanomaterials fabrication

Example topics covered:

  • Introduction to nanomaterials.
  • Production route for nanomaterials.

Core 2: Introduction to Nanoengineering

This module will be delivered during semester 1 using a combination of lectures and practicals and will be assessed by presentation and coursework.

Part 1: Microfabrication techniques

Example topics covered:

  • Optical and electron beam microscopy.
  • Optical and electron beam lithography.
  • Making of van der Waals heterostructures.

Part 2: Electron microscopy and electrical measurements

Example topics covered:

  • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
  • Elemental analysis techniques.

Part 3: Basics of optical characterisation of 2D materials

Example topics covered:

  • Revision of band structure in solids.
  • Revision of vibrational modes in solids.
  • Optical characterisation techniques (raman spectroscopy).

Core 3: Fundamentals of Graphene and Nanomaterials 2

This module will be delivered during semester 2 using a combination of lectures and practicals and will be assessed by presentation and coursework.

Part 1: Key aspects of biological and medical applications of graphene based materials

Example topics covered:

  • Overall view of 2D materials in nanomedicine.
  • Therapeutic diagnosis applications of graphene.
  • Graphene sensors and electrodes for biomedicine.

Part 2: Photoelectron spectroscopy and its applications to 2D materials

Example topics covered:

  • Basics of photoelectron spectroscopy.
  • Instrumentation.
  • Depth profiling and surface composition.

Part 3: Identifying and characterising nanostructured materials

  • Working in groups to develop a strategy to identify an unknown nanoscale device, reveal its properties and functions.

Alongside these core modules, you will also choose one option module to study.

Option 1: Fundamentals of Nanoelectronics

This module will be delivered during semester 2 using a combination of lectures and workshops and will be assessed by coursework.

Example topics covered:

  • Quantum well, wires and dots.
  • Universal conductance fluctuations in small phase-coherent conductors.
  • Interference and the enhanced backscattering of waves in disordered media.

Option 2: Fundamentals of Molecular Modelling

This module will be delivered during semester 2 using a combination of lectures and practicals and will be assessed by essay.

Example topics covered:

  • Introduction of statistical mechanics.
  • Advantages of computer simulations.
  • Fundamentals of molecular dynamics.

Enquiry-based learning (in small groups)

EBL projects are student-led reviews exploring a specific topic, conducted in groups of approximately four. These in-depth studies offer the opportunity to delve into the literature and develop an original piece of work designed to gain a deeper understanding of the subject and encourage critical literature review skills. You will complete two projects during the taught programme, with the opportunity to be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Recent EBL topic examples are:

  • Topological properties of electronic bands in 2D materials
  • Permeation through 2D lattices
  • Making spin count: exploring future spin based technologies
  • The science behind 2D materials for imaging, drug discovery and biosensing
  • Solving problems in information security with 2D materials

Extended lab projects

Our lab based projects lasting 12 weeks give the opportunity to explore the more experimental side of a variety of topics. Each of the projects is designed to be self-contained, allowing you to make a significant contribution to the research group. As with any research project, there will be many opportunities for you to put forward original ideas and help influence the direction of the research. During the programme you will complete two group lab projects.

Recent lab project examples are:

  • Atomic force microscopy for imaging biological samples
  • Graphene/2D material based field effect devices and optoelectronics
  • Crating domain walls in magnetic nanowires
  • Low temperature electronic measurements of 2D materials