The course aims to provide the skills needed for a correct implementation, analysis, and interpretation of measurements on some physical properties of materials, with particular reference to optical and vibrational spectroscopy measurements on thin films. The objective of the course is to train students forming their attitude towards a critical analysis of all the elements involved in the experimental realization of the measure: from the details of sample preparation, to the choice of a measurement scheme; from the setup construction fine details, to the implementation of all the processing steps on the acquired data.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students are expected to have:
1) Learned some techniques for samples preparation in the form of thin films: in particular PVD techniques under high-vacuum conditions.
2) Learned the basics of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and how to perform all the numerical operations needed to extract the spectroscopic information from the interferometric data.
3) Learned how to correctly implement UV-visible absorption spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy measurements.
4) Understood the peculiar features and the criticalities connected with the different optical spectroscopy measurement schemes and techniques.
5) Learned to compare their results with those extracted from literature and to place their observations in the context of research on new materials at international level.
6) Developed the ability to present synthetically the result of an experimental activity and to discuss the validity of their own observations.
The course foresees the realization of a short laboratory activity sketched on the model of a research project aimed at the synthesis and characterization of materials of interest for applications (e.g.: the preparation of electrodes for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells - DSSC), including: Preparation and characterization of nanostructured thin films. Sol-gel techniques: spin-coating, screen printing. Physical Vapor Deposition techniques: evaporation, sputtering, molecular beam deposition. Morphological characterization: microscopy, profilometry. Thin film optical spectroscopy techniques. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy: reflection-transmission, Attenuated Total Reflection - ATR. Raman spectroscopy. Optical ellipsometry.
Prerequisites for admission
There are no specific requirements to access the lab course.
The laboratory activity is carried out in small groups, typically composed of three students each. For each group, a suitable topic is identified together with the students, so to constitute the object of a research project that can be pursued within the time-frame of the course and with the tools that are available within the teaching and research laboratories to which we have access. Starting from a small bibliography, selected and proposed by the teacher, the groups define and discuss with the teacher the details of their project and finally implement it with teacher's support. The projects are identified in a way so to involve the use and require in-depth understanding of the techniques described in the course program.
P. R. Griffiths, J. A de Haseth "Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry" 2nd edition Wiley 2007 ISBN: 978-0-471-19404-0 Olaf Stenzel "The Physics of Thin Film Optical Spectra: An Introduction" Springer Series in Surface Sciences, Springer 2005 ISBN: 978-3540231479 H. Fujiwara "Spectroscopic Ellipsometry Principles and Applications" Wiley 2007 ISBN: 978-0-470-01608-4 Scientific literature selected by the teacher according to each project.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The monitoring of the learning process takes place continuously throughout the laboratory course via the observation of the students' activity and the discussion of objectives, procedures and results, within a constant interaction. At the end of the laboratory activity, students are asked to prepare a summary presentation of the work done, during which the results that they obtained are discussed and compared with relevant literature. The final evaluation is expressed by a grade (with values up to a maximum of 30) and which takes into consideration: the commitment shown during the course, the appropriateness of use of the instruments and techniques that were introduced, the correct treatment and analysis of the acquired data, the quality of comparison of own results and procedures with the relevant literature in the various phases of the laboratory activity and of the final revision, the proper organization of the presentation.