University of Technology Sydney

68044 Characterisation of Energy Efficient Materials

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2020 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


The concept of energy efficient materials is introduced to define the range and application of materials to be studied in this subject. This includes semiconductor materials used in light emitting diodes and photovoltaic applications, and thin film materials relevant to window coatings. Techniques for characterising these materials are then discussed in detail with demonstration of the practical application of these techniques. These include techniques such as x-ray diffraction for structure characterisation, optical characterisation using spectroscopy and ellipsometry, and measurement of electrical resistivity.

This subject contains a mix of coursework, experimental exercises and projects.

The aim of the subject is to provide a thorough grounding in the physical basis and practical application of these techniques in the context of energy efficient materials at a level appropriate to conducting research in this field.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Understand the role and application of energy efficient materials in society
2. Apply a range of characterisation techniques to measure materials properties
3. Assess the performance and applicability of materials in energy efficiency applications based upon measurement of their properties

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The Faculty of Science has determined that our courses will aim to develop a range of attributes in students at the completion of their course of study. Each subject will contribute to the development of these attributes in ways appropriate to the subject and the stage of progression. This subject has been designed to develop the following attributes.

1. Disciplinary knowledge and its appropriate application
The lecture component of this subject will provide disciplinary knowledge in the broad area of materials characterization techniques. Laboratory exercises will develop the ability to apply these techniques under appropriate circumstances.

2. An Inquiry-oriented approach
The subject contains a project component allowing students to develop research skills in an inquiry driven approach.

3. Engagement with the needs of Society
The initial component of this subject will introduce the concept of energy efficient materials and their relevance to the needs of the wider community.

4. Communication skills
Students will be required to communicate the results of the project component of the subject through reports and presentations.

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject comprises an initial introductory component designed to provide context and relevance delivered by means of 4 hours of lectures and 2 hours of class debate.

Each of 3 modules, comprising 6 hours of lectures and one 3-hour practical session will develop disciplinary knowledge and its application in the broad area of materials characterization techniques. These modules will be drawn from the research expertise in the Department and will vary from year to year.

30 hours of contact time will be dedicated to enquiry-oriented projects aimed developing students practical expertise in characterization techniques and their application to research problems.

The subject will be delivered in block mode over 6 weeks. Details of the delivery mode are below under Program

Content (topics)

The subject content consists of one core modules and three topic modules. Only three topic modules will be available in each offering of the subject. The available modules will be advertised at the beginning of each year.

1. Energy efficient materials and their application:

introduction and definitions, review of applications strategic directions of current research. Principal techniques and factors affecting energy efficiency

2. Three modules drawn from:

1. X-ray and neutron diffraction for the determination of material structure and composition:

sources: benchtop versus synchrotron sources; reactor versus spallation sources; crystal axes and reciprocal lattice; comparison of X-ray and neutron scattering. Instrumentation, including single crystal, powder and thin film; scope of applicability, interpretation and quantitative analysis. Lattice parameter determination; structure factors; influence of thermal motion; Rietveld refinement: basis and practical aspects.

2. Optical characterization using spectroscopy and ellipsometry:

principles of spectroscopy: ultraviolet / visible absorption, photoluminescence. Theoretical considerations and principle of operation; equipment configurations and instrumentation; limitations of techniques; applications to thin films and energy efficient materials.

3. Electrical characterization by measurement of resistivity:

fundamentals of electrical properties of materials; theoretical considerations; applicability of technique; available experimental techniques including four-probe method; experimental considerations and practical limitations.

4. Electrochemical characterization using cyclic voltammetry:

Principles of voltametry and theoretical foundations; voltametric instrumentation and range of techniques; notable applications; cyclic voltametry; limitations and strengths.

5. Electron Microscopy:

principles and practice of advanced microcharacterization techniques, including x-ray spectral mapping, electron backscatter diffraction and cathodoluminescence microanalysis; emerging technologies, such as focussed electron beam induced materials nanofabrication and scanning helium ion microscopy; and applications in energy efficient materials research.

6. Mechanical Characterisation of materials:

relationships between stress and strain and application to mechanical characterisation of materials; range of mechanical testing techniques; tension, compression, fatigue, hardness, fracture toughness. Appropriate test technique and analysis via appropriate test standards;Implications of results; theory and practice of current techniques such as micro- and nanoindentation hardness.


Assessment task 1: Practical Reports

Weight: 20%

Application of experimental methods
Appropriate use of error analysis
Analysis of data
Clarity of report
Correctness of conclusions

Assessment task 2: Project

Weight: 40%

Ability to design an experimental research study
Appropriate use of error analysis
Analysis of data
Clarity of report
Correctness of conclusions

The report is due at the end of the subject (typically week 7 or 8).

Assessment task 3: Examination

Weight: 40%

Understanding of the physical basis of characterization techniques
Ability to apply the appropriate mathematical models to solving problems related to these techniques

The exam will be held at the end of the subject (typically week 7).

NB All submitted papers and where applicable, all Online contributions making use of published materials, should be properly referenced and with a properly completed bibliography.

Minimum requirements

In order to pass this subject students must receive at least 40% of the marks available for any assessment item worth 40 % or more.

Recommended texts

Reading materials and background resources will be drawn from a variety of sources including text books, journal articles etc as appropriate. Reading recommendations will be provided during the progression of the subject.