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MEng Materials Science and Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Applied Functional Materials & Devices

Unit code MATS44302
Credit rating 15
Unit level Level 7
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Materials
Available as a free choice unit? No


Bulk functional materials play the key role in the development of modern electronic, optoelectronic, energy harvesting and storage devices for decades. However successful the use of traditional functional materials has been, miniaturization of modern-day consumer electronics combined with global demand for improved energy efficiency and environmental safety has driven the current technology device performance to a range of fundamental limitations. The overcome these limitations, new exciting possibilities presented by various nanomaterials have been actively explored. As a result of this research effort, a number of the advanced device technologies have been successfully commercialised. Some of the functional nanomaterial-based devices, such as OLED and QDLED displays, have already entered our everyday life. On the other hand, advances in nanotechnology have widened the potential application of nanomaterials and made it possible to integrate nanoscale objects into a devices. A good example of such development is junctionless field-effect transistors which are expected to extend the validity of Moor’s law for years ahead, or solar cells and light-emitting diodes built on arrays of aligned semiconductor nanowires. Nanotechnology has also given rise to a whole new class of devices,  Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), which utilise the combination of structural and functional properties of materials and are widely used as position and acceleration sensors for smartphones and gaming consoles. The extension of MEMS functionality and performance to an even smaller scale has been achieved through the introduction of nanoscale objects and building the so-called Nano-Electro-Mechanical Systems (NEMS).



The unit aims to:

  • Extend the knowledge of field-effect transistors and introduce novel FET device designs based on nanowires and 2D materials.
  • Give an in-depth theoretical description of thermoelectric effects and thermoelectric devices. Introduce the concept of the Dresselhaus strategy of improving the thermoelectric efficiency.
  • Extend the knowledge of the operation principles of organic and inorganic solar cells, factors limiting their efficiency (Shockley-Queisser Limit) and the potential of nanomaterials (fullerenes, nanowires, Perovskites) in improving it.
  • Discuss the mechanisms of light emission in organic and inorganic solid-state devices and how various nanomaterials can be used to tune the wavelength of emission.
  • Provide detailed discussion of the electrochemical energy storage mechanisms and main characteristics of electrochemical storage devices (galvanic cells, fuel cells and supercapacitors). Discuss the potential methods of performance enhancement utilizing carbon-based nanomaterials (Carbon nanotube and Graphene).
  • Introduce the concept of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and MEMS/NEMS-based devices.


Learning outcomes

A greater depth of the learning outcomes will be covered in the following sections:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Intellectual skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills and personal qualities

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be taught by the following methods:

  • Pre-recorded video lectures,
  • Live online lectures,
  • Formative assessment in the form of online quizzes,
  • Recommended textbooks and scientific papers,
  • Past exam papers,
  • Coursework/tutorials,
  • Electronic supporting information (Blackboard).


Knowledge and understanding

  • Identify the fundamental limitations for miniaturization of MOSFETs, the operational principles of junctionless transistors and the concepts of heterojunction high-electron mobility transistors and remote doping.
  • Explain the physical mechanisms responsible for the thermoelectric effects (Seebeck, Peltier and Thomson effects) and Mott’s relation between electrical conductivity and Seebeck coefficient, leading to the principles of operation and efficiency of thermoelectric devices.
  • Define the physical mechanisms of radiative heat transfer and light absorption in the solid state, employing these to explain the principles of operation and efficiency of different types of solar cells.
  • Describe the various excitation processes that lead to radiative recombination and identify the light emission mechanisms in electroluminescent devices; explain the principles of emission wavelength tuning.
  • Discuss the electrochemical processes used for energy storage, including the different operation principles/characteristics of galvanic cells, fuel cells and supercapacitors.
  • Describe the concepts of MEMS/NEMS and identify the main actuation/sensing mechanisms employed; discuss the operating principles of typical MEMS and NEMS-based devices.

Intellectual skills

  • Apply the principles of electrical conduction mechanisms in semiconductors to explain the operation of MOSFETs, junctionless transistors and HEMTs, including the use of van der Waals heterostructures to enhance carrier mobility.
  • Discuss the development of thermoelectric cooling devices based on the Peltier effect and explain the factors that can be exploited to improve the figure of merit for given types of thermoelectric materials.
  • Evaluate the factors that control the selection of materials and device architectures for the manufacture of efficient and cost-effective solar cells.
  • Explain the physical principles of organic/inorganic light emitting devices and discuss how these are employed to develop practical light sources.
  • Apply the principles of electrochemistry to the development of galvanic cells, fuel cells and supercapacitors, distinguishing their main features and characteristics.
  • Discuss the principles of ultrasensitive mass sensing with CNT and graphene based NEMS.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Convert word problems into equations and numerical answers.
  • Develop techniques for estimating the results from calculations.
  • Work effectively in a group to solve problems.
  • Show improved logical reasoning, problem solving and ability in applied mathematics.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 70%
Written assignment (inc essay) 30%

Feedback methods

Feedback given (written and verbal)

Recommended reading

Main textbooks:

  1. Charles Kittel “Introduction to Solid State Physics”, 8th Edition, John Wiley & Sons (2004)
  2. Brian K. Tanner “Introduction to the Physics of Electrons in Solids” Cambridge University Press (1995)
  3. Simon M. Zse and Kwok K. Ng “Physics of Semiconductor Devices” 3rd edition, John Wiley & Sons (2007)
  4. John H. Davis “The Physics of Low-dimensional Semiconductors. An Introduction” Cambridge University Press (1998)
  5. Julian H. Goldsmid “Introduction to Thermoelectricity” Springer (2010)
  6. Adrian Kitai “Principles of Solar Cells, LEDs and Diodes” John Wiley & Sons (2011)
  7. Robert A. Huggins “Energy Storage” Springer (2010)
  8. Robert A. Huggins “Advanced Batteries: Materials Science Aspects” Springer (2009)
  9. Nadim Maluf “Introduction to Microelectromechanical Systems Engineering”, Artech House (2000)

Additional reading:

  1. Peter Y. Yu and Manuel Cardona “Fundamentals of Semiconductors” 4th Edition, Springer (2010)
  2. Anqi Zhang Gengfeng Zheng and Charles M. Lieber “Nanowires. Building Blocks for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology” Springer (2016)
  3. “CRC Handbook of Thermoelectrics”, Eited by D. M. Rowe, CRC Press (1995)
  4. Ryan O'Hayre, Suk-Won Cha, Whitney Colella, Fritz B. Prinz “Fuel Cells Fundamentals” 3rd Edition, John Wiley & Sons (2016)
  5. “Carbon Nanomaterials for Advanced Energy Systems: Advances in Materials Synthesis and Device Applications” Edited by Wen Lu, Jong-Beom Baek and Liming Dai, John Wiley & Sons (2015)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Hall Unit coordinator

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