Advanced Functional Materials

Unit code: MATS40571
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 6
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by School of Materials
Available as a free choice unit?: N



Additional Requirements



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, tutorial/problems classes

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.
• Critically assess the selection of metallic elements for use in benign lead-free piezoceramics.
• 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.
• Analyse experimental data for dielectric and semiconducting ceramics to determine important material parameters.
• Examine and interpret the influence of point defects on dielectric, ferroelectric, semiconducting and ionic conduction phenomena.
• 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.
• Critically assess the suitability of different functional materials with respect to a novel application.

Practical skills


Transferable skills and personal qualities

• Solve problems analytically

Assessment methods

  • Other - 30%
  • Written exam - 70%


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

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

Exams - marks available on student portal. Students can view scripts after marking.

Coursework - 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 - 4 hours
  • Independent study hours - 152 hours

Teaching staff

Aravind Vijayaraghavan - Unit coordinator

▲ Up to the top