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ECE 481 - Nanotechnology

Spring 2021

Official Description

Fundamental physical properties of nanoscale systems. Nanofabrication techniques, semiconductor nanotechnology, molecular and biomolecular nanotechnology, carbon nanotechnology (nanotubes and graphene), nanowires, and nanoscale architectures and systems. Course Information: 4 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: One of CHEM 442, CHBE 457, ME 485, MSE 401, PHYS 460.

Related Faculty

Subject Area

Microelectronics and Photonics

Course Director

Detailed Description and Outline

  • Fundamental physical properties of nanoscale systems
  • Nanofabrication techniques
  • Semiconductor nanotechnology
  • Molecular and biomolecular nanotechnology
  • Carbon nanotechnology (nanotubes and graphene)
  • 2D materials and heterostructures
  • Nanowires
  • Nanoscale architectures and systems

Computer Usage

Simulations, such as calculating the band structures of carbon nanotubes, will be performed using online simulation tools in NSF's NanoHUB website.


Students write a term paper on a topic they select. Instructor provides guidance and feedback on topic selection.

Students also give a conference format in-class presentation on their term papers. 50% of their presentation grade is determined by peer evaluation.

A final project in the form of a NSF proposal is due during finals week. There is no in-class final exam. Teams of 3-6 students are formed to write each final proposal. The proposed topic must be something that has not been done yet. The teams work with the instructor to develop the proposal topic and break it down into sections for the team members.

Topical Prerequisites

Junior or senior level coursework in any science or engineering discipline. Course examples include CHEM 442, CHBE 457, ECE 340, ME 485, MSE 401, PHYS 460.


No text. All needed materials are provided online through the course website.


Course website

Course Goals

The key goals of this course are to have the students:

1. Gain a good working knowledge of nanoscale physical phenomena with particular emphasis on quantum size effects and how the properties of materials can be made to vary over a wide range by simply controlling nanoscale geometry.

2. Learn about the enabling experimetal techniques for nanoscale analysis such as scanned probe microscopy, electron and ion beam lithography, advanced optical lithography such as EUV, Auger spectroscopy, optical spectroscopy, and electrical measurements.

3. Learn about bottom-up self assembly and self-directed etching and top-down lithographic approaches to making nanostructures.

4. Practice nanofabrication and characterization in the cleanroom dedicated to the course. The lab is equipped with growth furnaces for bottom-up nanofabrication, a dual-beam electron/ion beam lithography system, optical lithography systems, wet chemistry hoods and electronic test stations. A procedure has been instituted whereby students sign nondisclosure agreements to have access to faculty research projects happening concurrently in the cleanroom.

5. Learn about key nanotechnology systems including graphene, carbon nanotubes, transition metal dichalcogenides, graphene nanoribbons, self-assembled molecular systems, biological nanostructures, DNA origami and sequencing, protein assay with single molecule resolution, nanophotonic systems, semiconductor quantum dots, nanoscale memory architectures, and the growth, transfer and assembly of 2D heterostructures.

6. Become critical readers of the current nanotechnology literature. Students are challenged to distill the essence out of high-impact journal papers while exposing their flaws and critical omissions. Group class discussions and group homeworks are assigned to build teamwork skills in this process.

7. Develop concise writing skills. Students write a journal style term paper that is letter-format, or 3-4 journal pages in length, on a topic they propose as a homework assignment.

8. Develop presentation skills by presenting their term papers as an in-class PowerPoint talk, for which half of the grade is determined by peer evaluation.

9. Develop out of the box thinking skills. Students form teams that must propose something that hasn't been done in the nanotechnology field for their final project. This project is formatted as a NSF proposal, including budget, and following the NSF proposal guidelines document.

Instructional Objectives

  • Basic principles are taught early in the course (1,7)
  • Followed by critical reviews of the current literature (1,3,5,7)
  • Finally, students exercise 'out-of-the-box' thinking by proposing something that has not been done for their final proposals. These proposal are in NSF format to give students experience in relevant future fund-raising endeavors. (1,3,4,5,6,7)
  • Students also give in-class, conference format presentations to practice their skill at effectively conveying their thoughts to an audience. (3,4,7)
  • Nanotechology experiments are performed in a cleanroom setting. (1,2,5,6,7)
NanotechnologyC354679OLC41400 - 1520 T R    Joseph W Lyding
NanotechnologyC454680OLC41400 - 1520 T R    Joseph W Lyding