2022 Soft Materials Physics

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Materials Science and Engineering
Vacha Martin 
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Lecture    (Blended)
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Course description and aims

The fields of optical functional materials, organic semiconductors, or organic opto-electronic devices require the basic knowledge of optical properties and photophysical processes of organic molecules and molecular complexes. With these applications in mind, the course uses the quantum-mechanical description of optical transitions to explain photophysical processes occurring on isolated organic molecules. Based on this knowledge, the course further explains both strong (exciton coupling) and weak (energy transfer) dipole-dipole interactions in molecular aggregates, examines the effect of external fields, the confinement of light, and introduces differences between organic materials and inorganic semiconducting nanostructures. As the advanced optical nanoscale characterization methods the course explains the principle of single-molecule spectroscopy, high-resolution optical spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy. The course is given entirely in English.

Student learning outcomes

Within the broad field of soft matter physics, this course focuses on optical properties and optical function of organic materials. The aim of the course is to gain understanding of the basic photophysical properties and processes on organic molecules as well as on organic semiconductors and related opto-electronic devices. In addition, the course will introduce the latest optical methods for material nanoscale characterization, such as single-molecule spectroscopy, high-resolution optical spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy.
The knowledge of basic optical properties, and especially, photophysical processes, is indispensable for the understanding of the basic principles of organic semiconductor-based devices, such as organic light-emitting diodes, organic solar cells, organic field-effect transistors or displays. The course starts with the description of optical transitions, and continues with photophysical processes, intermolecular interactions, the concept of excitons, and finally concludes with advanced optical nanoscale characterization methods.


Photophysics, organic molecules, organic materials, optical spectroscopy

Competencies that will be developed

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

Class flow

The first 15 minutes of each class will be used to review the contents of the previous class and to explain solutions of problems. The course itself is often based on theoretical quantum-mechanical treatment but this is supplemented with practical examples of the phenomena on real materials. Students are required to understand the contents of each lecture and review it for the next class.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Optical transition, Fermi’s golden rule, optical Bloch equations transition dipole moment
Class 2 Photophysical processes on organic molecules, excited states photophysical processes
Class 3 Molecular aggregates, strong interaction, Frenkel exciton Frenkel exciton
Class 4 Inorganic semiconductor nanoparticles, confinement effect, Wanier exciton Wanier exciton
Class 5 Weak intermolecular interaction, energy transfer energy transfer
Class 6 Light confinement effect, spontaneous emission engineering light confinement effect
Class 7 External field effects, Stark effect, Zeeman effect Stark effect
Class 8 Optical nanoscale characterization methods, single-molecule spectroscopy, super-resolution microscopy single-molecule spectroscopy

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


English-text handouts

Reference books, course materials, etc.

W.W. Parson: Modern Optical Spectroscopy. Springer, 2007

Assessment criteria and methods

Understanding of contents of the lecture and the ability to use it will be evaluated.

Related courses

  • MAT.P404 : Soft Materials Functional Physics
  • MAT.P401 : Organic Optical Materials physics

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

Not required

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