2018 Soft Materials

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Materials Science and Engineering
Nakajima Ken  Asai Shigeo 
Course component(s)
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at Tsinghua Univ. (清華大学開講科目)  
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Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
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Course description and aims

This course is for students in Tokyo Tech-Tsinghua University joint graduate program. The course is held at Tsinghua University in Beijing and mainly deals with the fundamental concepts of soft materials. Since the instructors and the topics change every year, the course contents will be revised every year. This year, the course will be divided into two: the former half will deal with single molecule spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy and the latter half will be nanomechanics based on atomic force microscopy.

With the progress of nanoscience and nanotechnology on the one hand, and the development of organic and soft-matter based opto-electronic and bio-sensing device technology on the other, there has been an increasing interest in the characterization of the basic physical properties of soft matter on nanometer scales, as well as in the study of basic physical and chemical phenomena occurring on the level of molecules. Optical methods, and optical microscopy in particular, offer the possibility to non-invasively localize regions of interest on nanometer scales and at the same time to study many of the physical and chemical phenomena by monitoring the response of the matter to light.

The goal of the lecture is to provide the students with the background knowledge necessary to understand the methods of single molecule spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy, and to familiarize themselves with the potential and limitations of these techniques. Further, the goal is for the students to get an overview of recent developments in the field of nanoscale photochemical and photophysical characterization and phenomena in polymer solids and soft matter.

Student learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will acquire the following abilities:
1) Ability to explain the photochemical and photophysical characterization and phenomena in polymer solids and soft matter by single molecule spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy
2) Ability to explain the method to measure the mechanical properties of polymers by means of atomic force microscopy.


Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Super-resolution Microscopy, Photochemical and Photophysical Phenomena, Atomic Force Microscopy, Entropic Elasticity, Rubber Elasticity, Composite Material

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

This course will proceed in the following order: (1) Single molecule spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy, (2) Mechanical properties characterization of polymers by atomic force microscopy.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Basic of optics Explain the following issues. Wave nature of light; linear and circular polarization; diffraction of light on slits and pinholes; resolution of optical instruments; optical microscope
Class 2 Basic of optical transition and interactions Explain the following issues. Basic quantum mechanics of optical transitions; transition dipole moment, Fermi's golden rule; optical transitions in organic molecules and molecular aggregates; the concept of exciton; energy transfer
Class 3 Single molecule spectroscopy Explain the following issues. Principles and techniques of single-molecule detection and spectroscopy at cryogenic and room temperature; super-resolution fluorescence microscopy
Class 4 Nanoscale properties of conjugated polymers Explain the following issues. Conjugated polymers and their optical properties; single-chain characterization of polymer conformation and its relationship with photophysics
Class 5 Nanoscale physics of polymer solids Explain the following issues. Basic physical properties of polymer solids and organic glasses, glass transition, chain relaxation; nanoscale characterization by single-molecule fluorescence probes
Class 6 Single-molecule tracking Explain the following issues. Single-molecule and single-particle tracking methods, nanoscale diffusion in polymers, liquid crystals, mesoscale porous structures.
Class 7 Outlook and conclusions (classes 1-7) Explain the following issues. Latest developments in the field and outlook; potential applications towards nanoscale optoelectronic devices.
Class 8 Basic of atomic force microscopy Explain the basic knowledge of atomic force microscopy
Class 9 Nanomechanics by atomic force microscopy Explain the method of nanomechanical analysis by atomic force microscopy
Class 10 Nanomechanics on a single polymer chain Explain nanomechanics of a single polymer chain and its theoretical background
Class 11 Nanomechanics of rubber elasticity Explain nanomechanics of rubber elasticity
Class 12 Nanomechanics of rubber reinforcement Explain nanomechanics of rubber reinforcement by fillers
Class 13 Nanomechanics of polymer alloys Explain nanomechanics of polymer alloys
Class 14 Nanoscale viscoelastic measurement Explain nanoscale viscoelastic measurement by atomic force microscopy
Class 15 Practice problems and interpretation for confirming the level of understanding Solve practice problems by accurate understanding of the above 1st-14th lectures.


Non required.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Materials used in class can be found on OCW-i.

Assessment criteria and methods

Practice problems and interpretation for confirming the level of understanding (90%), level of class participation (10%) (The level of class participation will be evaluated by discussion, brief examination in the lecture.)

Related courses

  • ZSH.P403 : Advanced Course in Surface Properties of Organic Materials A
  • MAT.P401 : Organic Optical Materials physics
  • CAP.P411 : Advanced Polymer Synthesis I
  • CAP.P412 : Advanced Polymer Synthesis II

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

No prerequisites are necessary, but enrollment in the related courses is desirable.

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