Advanced characterization techniques

Advanced characterization techniques

Advanced characterization techniques is a 3rd semester course held at Coimbra University, Portugal.


3. a semester - University of Coimbra, Portugal


Prof. Ana Paula Piedade

Course Points (ECTS)


Contact Information

University of Coimbra, Portugal

Course Overview

Module objectives

The objective of this course is to give the students skills in advanced methods for materials characterization in order that they can select the most suitable one for a specific property as, for example, the in depth characterization of a material at a nanometric level. For that, the students have access to the available testing equipments in UC, to perform several practical and laboratorial works which will be presented as scientific and technical reports. The experimental skills of the students in performing research work are also goals to be achieved in this course.

Outline syllabus

Physical-chemical Methods:

  • Electron Probe Microanalyses (EPMA): basic principles; technical aspects; qualitative and quantitative analyses; ZAF and PAP corrections.
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS): basic principles and theory; the photoelectric effect; photoionisation cross-sections; chemical shifts; inelastic scattering and sampling depth; technical details; analytical procedures and qualitative interpretation; quantitative surface analysis.
  • AUGER Electron Spectroscopy (AES): basic principles and theory; electron scattering; spacial resolution; instrumentation; data acquisition; quantitative analysis; practical aspects
  • Secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS): basic principles; mechanism of secondary ion emission; experimental parameters; instrumentation; data acquisition;
  • RAMAN Spectroscopy: basic principles; experimental parameters; instrumentation; data acquisition; type of applications
  • Rutherford Backscattering (RBS): basic principles; experimental parameters; instrumentation; data acquisition; applications.

Structure Analysis Methods

  • X-ray diffraction (XRD): theory of diffraction; experimental methods with incident parallel beam: Debye-Sherrer; rotating crystal and four circles methods; Bragg-Brentano and Seeman-Bohlin; lattice parameter; crystallinity; residual stress measuments; quantitative analysis of phases; microdiffraction; grazing diffraction; small angle diffraction.
  • X-ray Tomography: basic principles; experimental parameters; instrumentation; data acquisition; applications
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM): physical principles (elastic and inelastic diffusion, back scattering); experimental parameters, instrumentation; data acquisition; analytical applications.
  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM): basic principle; preparation of the samples; image and diffraction modes; quantitative analysis; HRTEM images; improvement of resolution by aberration correction

Monitoring of student progress

  • Laboratorial or field works
  • Written examination