Skip to content | Change text size

CHM2981 - Chemistry at the interface

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader: Dr Ian McKinnon


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


Four topics are covered: Surface Chemistry introduces the special features of the molecular structure of the interface, surface tension and adsorption at the interface, surfactants, emulsions and foams, adhesion, wetting, detergency, and formulation of surfactants. Colloid Chemistry focuses on dispersions of small particles in the context of food chemistry, paints, cosmetics, water systems and formulation science. Reactions of and on surfaces is concerned with the control of chemistry by the presence of molecularly tailored surfaces. Advanced Materials is concerned with new materials such as optoelectronic materials, nanomaterials, and materials such as those formed by sol gel processes.


On completion of this unit, students will have gained a broad overview of the properties of the interface between two different material phases and the chemical processes that occur at such interfaces. The will have gained an appreciation of the importance of the processes that occur at the interfaces between material phases in the functioning of biological systems, the applications of chemistry and the functionality of everyday materials. Students will have developed an understanding of key terms used in colloid and surface chemistry. They will have developed an understanding of the phenomena of interfacial tension, adsorption of substances at interfaces, and the stability of colloidal dispersions. They will understand the role of these phenomena in detergency, food chemistry, paints, cosmetics, water treatment, and formulation science. They will have gained a general understanding of the processes of heterogeneous catalysis. Students will have gained an awareness of experimental methods used to characterise the interfaces, and will have further developed skills in the use of modern instrumentation, working in small groups and in the written and oral presentation of scientific data.


One 2-hour examination: 50%
Assignments and computer testing: 20%
Laboratory work and short laboratory reports and proforma reports: 30%
Students must achieve a pass mark in their laboratory work to achieve an overall pass grade.

Contact hours

Three 1-hour lectures/tutorials and the equivalent of 3 hours laboratory activity per week


6 points of level one Chemistry and 6 points of level two Chemistry. Students without these should consult the co-ordinator.