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Master SERP+ Programme

Bulk and interfacial characterization methods


Overview of characterization methods for crystalline and amorphous solids, liquid crystals, liposome suspensions and complex fluids - emphasis on soft matter applications. Morphological and imaging methods: light, SEM and TEM, applications to soft materials. Pulsed-field gradient NMR for self-assembled systems; self-diffusion and spin relaxation techniques. Structure characterization: scattering methods (light, X-ray and neutron) and applications to complex fluids.  Thermal methods for characterization of phase transitions and polymorphism of solids (TA, DTA, TG, DTG), alone or coupled with other chemical characterization methods. Phase transitions in suspensions of liposome and other self-assembled systems (DSC). The use of DSC in building up of phase diagrams. Characterization of solution behavior and interactions in complex systems – polymers, surfactants, liposomes and their mixtures (ITC). Heat capacity of solids, solutions and complex fluids (Drop Cp calorimeter). Overview of characterization methods for interfaces; AFM, STM, and vibrational spectroscopy of surfaces (ATR, PM-IRRAS).


To provide a basic understanding of some modern methods for physicochemical characterization of bulk materials and interfaces, with emphasis on soft and nanostructured systems. To understand the advantages and limitations of each method and the need for complementary methods. To engage the students in the discussion, processing and transmission of relevant information in scientific articles therein.

Recommended Books

  • “Materials Chemistry”, B. D. Fahlman, Springer, 2007.
  • “Surface Analysis: The Principal Techniques”, J. C. Vickerman, I. Gilmore, John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
  • “Biocalorimetry: foundations and contemporary approaches”, Editor Margarida Bastos, Taylor & Francis, 2016.

Teaching Staff

Margarida Bastos (Course Coordinator)
Eduardo Marques
Carlos Pereira


Lectures: 14 h
Tutorials: 14 h

Grading System

Exam: 60%
Presentations: 40%