Experimental Surface Physics

Physics, Second Cycle
1. in 2. year
Hours per week – 1. semester:

Enrollment into the program.
Positive result from individual work is necessary to enter the oral exam.

Content (Syllabus outline)

Soft matter surfaces and interfaces:
Molecular interactions and DLVO theory. Van der Waals force and forces between charged surfaces. Structural forces in liquids, adhesion and capillary forces. Principles of operation of STM, AFM and related Surface Probe Microscopy techniques. Force spectroscopy using Atomic Force Microscope. Optical tweezers, force spectroscopy and manipulation

Solid surfaces and thin films:
Geometrical structure of solid surfaces, surface relaxation and reconstruction, surface morphology long range order and surface phase transitions. Epitaxy and thin film growth. Electronic structure of surfaces and interfaces. Synchrotron radiation based techniques.

Practical excercises :
Structural techniques: Structural and long range order measurements of solid surfaces and overlayers by diffraction (LEED, X-ray diffraction, Helium atom scattering). Photoelectron diffraction as local structural probe.
Spectroscopy: X-ray photoemission for chemical analysis of surfaces – XPS, valence band spectroscopy – UV photoemission, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (NEXAFS) – measurement of molecular geometry at surfaces. Applications to complex organic systems. Spectromicroscopy using synchrotron radiation.
Practical applications of STM microscopy and spectroscopy. Single molecule and atom manipulation using low-temperature STM. Imaging of surfaces using AFM and related SPM techniques. Application of AFM in biological and soft-matter systems. Practical applications of force spectroscopy using AFM, applications of laser tweezers.

  1. J. Israelachvili, Intermolecular and Surface Forces, Academic Press, 1992.
  2. R. Wiesendanger, Scanning probe microscopy, Springer, 1998.
  3. J.P.Fillard, Near field optics and nanoscopy, World Scientific, 1996.
  4. A. Zangwill, Physics at Surfaces, Cambridge UP, 1988.
  5. D.P.Woodruff, T.A.Delchar, Modern techniques in surface science, Cambridge 1994.
  6. J.M.Walls, R. Smith, Surface science techniques, Pergamon, 1994
  7. D.Meyers, Surfaces, Interfaces and Colloids, VCH Publishers Inc., 1991.
    10.P.A.Kralchevsky, K. Nagayama, Particles at Fluid Interfaces and Membranes, Elsevier 2001.
Objectives and competences

Soft matter :
The student shall get acquainted with surface and interface physics of solid and soft matter with a strong emphasis on practical application of experimental methods for surface spectroscopy, imaging and structural analysis.

Solid interfaces:
Students become familiar with modern experimental techniques in characterization, analysis and manipulation of solid surfaces, thin films and formation of nanostructures. Connection to basic theories for understanding the observed phenomena, and characterization of novel materials.

Knowledge and understanding of experimental techniques and measuring methods.
Skills in fundamentals of vacuum systems, in-situ preparation of samples, and principles of modern detection systems.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

Acquisition of experimental skills and practical knowledge in the field of soft matter and solid state surfaces and interfaces. Critical use of obtained knowledge from different theoretical courses to the realization of experiments . Understanding the processes of scientific experiments from planning, preparation and realization to the data collectiona and analysis of results with proper involvment of adequate models and theories leading to final conclusions.


Ability to work with complex experimental equipment. Ability to collaborate in experimental teams. Understanding multiple steps in experiment planning and realization.


Critical eavluation of experimental results, Ability to relate the experimental results to theoretical models and theories.

Transferable skills:
Interdisciplinary approach in the surface science laboratories enables projections of acquired skills in solving problems and addressing issues with modern techniques to other scientific areas (material science, nanophysics, organic electronics, biophysics, etc.)

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, exercises, seminars, homework, consultations


Oral exam. Students may choose from solid state and soft matter surface course. Common to both selected topics is »experimental techniques«. Written reports on participation in real experiments in selected laboratories are mandatory and should be presented
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references

prof. dr. Igor Muševič
1. I. Muševič et al. Science 313, 954(2006).
2. M. Humar, M. Ravnik, S. Pajk, I. Muševič, Nature Photonics 3, 595-600(2009).
3. U. Tkalec, M. Ravnik, S. Čopar, S. Žumer and I. Muševič, Science 333, 62(2011).
prof. dr. Dean Cvetko:
1. A. Schiffrin, et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A., 2007, vol. 104, no 13, str. 5279-5284. [COBISS-SI-ID 1985636]
2. A.Batra, G.Kladnik, H.Vazquez, J.Meisner, L.Floreano, C.Nuckolls, D. Cvetko, A.Morgante, L.Venkataraman, Nature communications, ISSN 2041-1723, 2012, vol. 3, str. 1086-1-1086-7, doi: 10.1038/ncomms2083.
A.Batra, G.Kladnik, N.Gorjizadeh, J.Meisner, M.Steigerwald, C.Nuckolls, S.Y.Quek, D.Cvetko, A.Morgante, L.Venkataraman, Journal of the American Chemical Society, ISSN 0002-7863, 2014, vol. 136, iss. 36, str. 12556-12559, ilustr. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja5061406, doi: 10.1021/ja5061406.