Advanced Functional Materials

Unit code: MATS30571
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 6
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Materials
Available as a free choice unit?: N




The unit aims to:
1. provide an understanding of the principles underlying the operation of oxide-based functional ceramics in the form of bulk, thin film, particulate and composite materials;
2. discuss the relationships between chemical composition, crystal structure, microstructure and functional properties; and
3. identify the material characteristics required for a variety of applications and environments.


Functional materials are at the heart of a wide range of consumer and industrial electronic systems, including communications, control and energy management

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, recommended textbooks, past exam papers, coursework/tutorials, electronic supporting information (Blackboard)

Learning outcomes

A greater depth of the learning outcomes will be covered in the follwing sections:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Intellectual skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills and personal qualities

Knowledge and understanding

• Demonstrate an understanding of the composition-structure-property relationships in polycrystalline ferroelectrics.
• Describe the main groups of conventional piezoelectric and pyroelectric ceramics; identify emerging single phase and composite materials and their characteristic properties.
• Explain how structural phase transformations in ferroelectrics can be exploited in the development of new and improved materials.
• Describe the mechanisms of operation and the processes of conduction in voltage dependent resistors and temperature-sensitive resistors.
• Describe the factors controlling the dielectric properties of high frequency dielectrics and their dependence on processing conditions.
• Explain the detection mechanisms in semiconducting gas sensors and identify factors limiting their performance.
• Describe the principles of operation of solar cells and fuel cells, and discuss factors limiting their performance.
• Describe the structure, production routes and applications of 1D and 2D nanomaterials.
• Discuss the electronic and other physical properties of a range of 1D and 2D materials.
• Relate the band structure of graphene to its electronic properties.

Intellectual skills

• Devise strategies to optimise the performance of functional materials.
• Relate the properties of functional materials to their structures and hence identify suitable applications for them

Practical skills


Transferable skills and personal qualities

• Solve problems analytically.

Assessment methods

  • Other - 30%
  • Written exam - 70%

Recommended reading

• Electroceramics: Materials, properties, applications, 2nd edition, A. J. Moulson and J. M. Herbert, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2003.
• Electrical properties of materials, 8th edition, L. Solymar and D. Walsh, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009.
• Semiconductor devices: Physics and technology, 3rd edition, S. M. Sze and M.-K. Lee, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 2012.

Feedback methods

Marks available on student portal. Students can view scripts after marking.
Marked work returned within 15 working days of latest due date. Any student wishing further feedback should arrange this with the lecturer who set the material.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 44 hours
  • Practical classes & workshops - 8 hours
  • Independent study hours - 148 hours

Teaching staff

Aravind Vijayaraghavan - Unit coordinator

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