Material Science

Course Leader: Dr Israel Temprano | Dr Milan Kracalik

Home Institution: University of Cambridge, United Kingdom | Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Course pre-requisites: None.

Brief description of the course

This course comprises two modules: 

MODULE 1:  The Surface of Materials in Technological Applications

MODULE 2:  Plastics: Chemistry, Technology and Applications


Module leader: Dr Israel Temprano
Home institution: 
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Brief description of the module

The behaviour of atoms and molecules at surfaces has a central role in many areas of great academic and industrial importance such as heterogeneous catalysis, functionalised materials, nanotechnology, electronics, 2D (graphene-like) materials, novel chemical and biological sensors, chirality, etc. The field of surface science is key in today’s global economy (35% of global GDP depends on heterogeneous catalysis) and paramount in the development of novel materials and technologies.

The aim of this course is to provide an insight into the key issues that underpins current understanding and characterization of solid-state surfaces. We will consider the behaviour over a range of lengthscales, from the atomistic mechanisms involved in surface mediated reactions to the macroscopic, thermodynamic description of adsorption. The material will be eminently practical with case studies and discussions that will provide an insightful view of the cutting edge research performed in a wide range of scientific topics. It will also provide a firm foundation for those considering a deeper study of surfaces and related areas such as nanoscience, bioscience, colloids and catalysis.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to recognise the importance of the materials of choice and their surfaces in a wide range of technological applications. They should also have a good understanding of their relevance to other scientific disciplines as well as having a strong foundation of their scientific study and how to interpret the relevant scientific literature

Course Content

This course will introduce students to the study of the properties of the surfaces of relevant materials. It will describe the relevance of this crucial part of important materials in the most important industries. In it we will study the most relevant types of surfaces, their properties and main differences. We will study in detail the scientific field of surface science and the special techniques required for the study of the surfaces of solid materials. We will review relevant scientific literature on the subject related to several crucial scientific fields and the individual fields of interest of the students with practical cases and lively discussions

Instructional Method

The course will consist of a series of lectures with especial emphasis in the scientific research related to surfaces in technological applications. The sessions will include discussions on the particular points of interest to the students and their individual fields of study. Seminars will also be a part of the course in which relevant scientific literature will be assessed and discussed in relation to their field of interest.


Required Course Materials

No materials required. Access to a computer and email address is desired but not mandatory.


The evaluation of the students will be based on oral presentations at the end of the course of relevant scientific articles chosen by the students relating the study of the properties of surfaces with their individual field of interest. The selection of the articles to be presented will be previously discussed and agreed between the student and the teacher on the individual basis. The presentations will be assessed on the level of understanding the student will display on the relevance of the issue tackled by the article, the appropriateness of the approach and techniques used, the validity of the data presented and a discussion on the conclusions made by the authors. The rest of the students will be encouraged to participate on the discussion after each presentation and they will also be evaluated based on their contribution to it.


Module leader: Dr Milan Kracalik
Home institution: Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria

Brief description of the module

This course is offered for those students who want to hear what is true and what not in different media concerning plastics in the world - they are everywhere, touching us - so it is good to know, what is dangerous and what is harmless.... Why it is not possible to live without plastics, why the green energy or medical engineering could not be able to work without plastics, what would our life look like without plastics…? Answer to these questions and more (you are invited to bring further questions with you) can you experience in this course!

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to generate specific information from plastics industry, using it for assessment of relation between physics&chemistry and application performance of different plastics. This outcome will be useful in product development dealing with plastic materials.

Course Content

1)         Introduction (What is plastic, Tailor-made Materials)

2)         Economics and Business of Plastics

3)         Plastic Additives (Fillers, Miscibility / Compatibilizers, Stabilizers, Pigments, etc.)

4)         Methods for Plastic Additivation (Lab/Industrial Scale Equipment)

5)         Methods for Structure Characterisation in Plastics (Rheology, Spectroscopy, Microscopy, Mechanical & Thermal Testing)

6)         Physical and Chemical Processes during Plastic Additivation

7)         Physical Phenomena associated with Plastic Additivation and their Impact on Material Properties (e.g. Percolation Treshold vs. Electric Conductivity)

8)         Chemical Phenomena associated with Plastic Additivation and their Impact on Material Properties (e.g. Chain Grafting vs. Compatibility)

9)         Nanotechnology in Plastic Formulations

10)       Medical engineering vs. plastic materials

11)       Plastic Formulations for Outdoor Applications (Weatherability, Accelerated Aging)

12)       Additives for Bio-Plastics (Biodegradable and Bio-based Plastic Materials)

13)       Additives for Recycled Plastics (Physical/Chemical Recycling)

14)       Regulations on Plastics (e.g. REACH, RoHS, FDA)

Instructional Method

-           Lectures

Required Course Materials

Recommended literature:

Erik Lokensgard - Industrial Plastics: Theory and Applications

J.A. Brydson - Plastics Materials

R.J. Crawford - Plastics Engineering

Nigel Mills - Plastics: Microstructure and Engineering Applications


-           Evaluation of team work (one power-point presentation for each participant)