CHEMMAT 724 : Advanced Materials Characterisation


2024 Semester One (1243) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The underlying theory essential to understanding modern methods of advanced materials analysis including: electron microscopy, surface analysis, atomic force microscopy and nanoindentation. Teaching is highly research informed with examples drawn from the Research Centre for Surface and Materials Science (RCSMS) and involves principles, practical experience and independent project work related to the application of these techniques.

Course Overview

This course aims to provide an introduction to the underlying theory essential to understanding the techniques of advanced materials characterisation, complemented by demonstrations of the techniques and practical analysis of samples. Successful students should ultimately be able, in their future careers, to know how to answer the question: “what is this?”, and to use that answer to contribute to answering the next question: “why is it doing what it is doing?” This course is not suitable for off-campus enrolments. 

Course Outline

Why characterise materials? Overview of techniques. Surfaces and bulk materials. 

Microscopy and Microanalysis I
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), and Energy & Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS/WDS), Environmental SEM (ESEM), Electron Back Scatter Diffraction (EBSD), Focused Ion Beam (FIB).

Surface analysis and spectroscopy
Introduction to surfaces, spectroscopy techniques for materials characterisation. 

History, analysis models, tip shape, material and design, SPM imaging, peripheral techniques.

Microscopy and Microanalysis II
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), TEM sample preparation, selected area electron diffraction (SAED), Kikuchi lines, bright field (BF) and dark field (DF) TEM images, High-resolution TEM (HRTEM), scanning-TEM (STEM), electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) and Energy-filtered TEM (EFTEM). 

Atomic Force Microscopy
Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM), History, analysis modes, tip shape, peripheral techniques.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: CHEMMAT 305 or 322

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 3: Knowledge and Practice
Capability 4: Critical Thinking
Capability 5: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Communication

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Select suitable analysis technique(s) for a variety of solid material samples depending on the requirement(s) (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1)
  2. Prepare samples for analysis by a variety of techniques whilst understanding the potential to introduce, or obscure, information at every point. (Capability 3.1, 3.2 and 4.2)
  3. Understand and use the different type of information available from differing techniques; composition or structure, surface or bulk, etc. (Capability 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.1)
  4. Understand and explain the complementary nature of the analysis techniques and articulate why one or other technique might be suitable for a specific sample. (Capability 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1 and 6.1)
  5. Characterise a sample and draw conclusions about their findings that are accurate and relevant. (Capability 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 and 4.2)
  6. Understand, and critically consider the value, of papers presenting other researchers materials characterisation activity. (Capability 3.1, 3.2, 4.1 and 4.2)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 55% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 45% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Final Exam

Students must sit the exam to pass the course. Otherwise, a DNS (did not sit) result will be returned.

Workload Expectations

We strongly encourage only on-campus students to select this course due to several laboratory components. 

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, in a typical week you can expect 4 hours of lectures, 3 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3 hours of work on laboratories, assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities, including lectures, labs (compulsory), and tutorials to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Labs will not be available as recordings.
The course will include live events including group discussions and tutorials.
Attendance on campus is required for the test.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Health & Safety

Students must ensure they are familiar with their Health and Safety responsibilities, as described in the University's Health and Safety policy.

Lab coats, safety glasses, and closed-toe covered footwear must be worn when required in all laboratory activities. 

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Student feedback for this course has been favorable, yet we always strive to improve details as identified by previous cohorts. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed for potential plagiarism or other forms of academic misconduct, using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 03/11/2023 11:07 a.m.