Course syllabus


KPO041 Surface Engineering LP3 VT22 7.5 credits (4 + 3.5)

Latest information for 2022: The teaching will proceed as planned in most respects and relatively few restrictions due to covid-19 are expected according to the guidelines from Chalmers. There are many more students than expected, so the project groups will be large. Every student should not participate in every lab session, to reduce crowdedness. Lectures will still be recorded, but not because of covid-19. The schedules classes will be spent on exercises etc. It is critical that you watch the lectures beforehand. Please leave this event in Canvas unless you are really dedicated to attend the course, to simplify planning for the teachers!

Course is offered by the department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Contact details

Examiner: Andreas Dahlin

Additional lecturers: Tiina Nypelö, Martin Andersson 

Project leaders: John Andersson, Oliver Olsson, Marika Gugole, Maja Uutisalo,, Julia Järlebark 

Supporting teacher: Andreas Schaefer

Course purpose

This course focuses on understanding, analyzing and controlling the properties of solid surfaces. It provides knowledge about techniques for altering surface properties. The science and technology of surfaces and interfaces are playing an increasingly important role, for instance in the polymer and pulp/paper industry. The material surface can be modified by various techniques in order to control surface properties and to give chemical functionality or responsiveness. Applications are also found in biology and medicine (biointerface science).

The course is to a high extent built on problem-based learning. Each student will select a project which aims to modify surface properties or to chemically functionalize a surface. The projects do not have any expected outcomes and are part of real ongoing research activities at Chalmers. In this manner, students create value for others, i.e. the researchers in the field (not necessarily only those at Chalmers). In a typical project, students together in a project group will under supervision of a project leader select a strategy for surface modifications, perform surface modifications and then analyze with suitable techniques the effect of the surface modifications. The project ends with an oral presentation and a written report.



Course literature

Lecture slides (mandatory material).

Chapters from:

  • Polymer Surfaces, From Physics to Technology, F. Garbassi, M. Morra, E. Occhiello, Wiley, New York, ISBN 0471971006
  • Soft Condensed Matter, R.A.L. Jones, Oxford master series in condensed matter physics 2002, ISBN 0198505906
  • Plasmonic Biosensors, A.B. Dahlin, Advances in Biomedical Spectroscopy, IOS Press 2012, ISBN 9781607509653
  • Intermolecular and Surface Forces, J.N. Israelachvili, Academic Press 2011, ISBN 9780123751829
  • Piezoelectric Sensors, C. Steinem, A. Janshoff, Springer 2007, ISBN 9783540365686
  • Surface Wetting, K.Y. Law, H. Zhao, Springer 2016, ISBN 9783319252124

Selected review articles from the scientific literature.

Course design

Description of the course's learning activities:

  • Lectures: The lectures will be available as videos and the slides as pdf files. The slides are quite extensive since they are meant to be self-explanatory. The schedules hours will be used for problem solving and the lectures should be studied beforehand.
  • Exercises: Example exercises are provided with the lectures. Students are also encouraged to look at previous exams (which include answers).
  • Laboratory work: This is organized as projects. There is no "conventional" laboratory work.
  • Projects: The project work in groups is a central part of the course and corresponds to 40% of the work, reported separately in LADOK.
  • Supervision: PhD students will act as supervisors in the projects.
  • Feedback: PhD students will provide feedback on the written project report. The examiner provides feedback on the oral presentation of the project.
  • Seminars: The projects are presented at a seminar close to the end of the course.

The course material will be available on Canvas. Communication with teachers is best done by email.

Participation in the oral presentation of the project work is mandatory.

Changes made since the last occasion

During the pandemic, lectures were recorded and available as video files. This was highly appreciated by the students and it was decided to keep this format even after the pandemic. Therefore, lectures will be available online and during class, exercises etc. will be performed instead (a "flipped classroom" style).

Learning objectives and syllabus

After completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • describe the origin of surface properties and surface forces
  • describe dynamics of polymer surfaces and its consequences on surface phenomena
  • use methods for analyzing surface adsorption
  • select suitable analytical techniques to characterize the chemical composition of a surface
  • plan and perform some surface modifications
  • understand the effect of surface chemistry and surface morphology on wetting properties
  • understand how corona and plasma treatments are performed
  • make water repellent surfaces or improve wetting
  • understand basic aspects of adhesion and apply them in the field of coatings, adhesives and composites
  • understand interactions between proteins and surfaces
  • suggest surface treatments to improve biocompatibility

The student will also develop generic skills and get experience on:

  • dealing with uncertainty and unexpected outcomes
  • collaborating in a group towards a common goal
  • searching for information relevant for the task at hand

Link to the syllabus on Studieportalen:

Study plan

Examination form

The course finishes with a written exam, corresponding to 60% (4.5 credits) of the course. The maximum points is 60 and the guideline is that 24 points are required to pass. No books or formula collections are allowed on the exam but there is no need to memorize equations etc. since they are given in the text.

The project work is no longer graded (only "pass" or "fail") and corresponds to 3 credits reported separately.

Course summary:

Date Details Due