Applied Nanotechnology MSc/MTech/PgCert/PgDip


Applied Nanotechnology

'Nanotechnology' is moving from the rhetoric of hype into a manufacturing reality. The popularised myths described in popular fiction like Michael Crichton's novel 'Prey', and serialised in TV dramas, are rapidly being pushed aside as large organisations such as Unilever and QinetiQ see the value of integrating miniature and nanosystems. In such a rapidly changing and vibrant atmosphere it is vital that the nanotechnology programmes are agile and satisfy industry's requirements.

This innovative postgraduate level programme in Applied Nanotechnology aims to give students a thorough grounding in the skills necessary for a technically-based career in the new high-tech industries.

The course covers technologies used to design, realise and analyse micro and nano-scale devices, materials and systems, coupled with general and technology management. This, supported by project work, ensures graduates emerge trained in a wide-range of technical and management skills, and have a sharp appreciation of the relevance of the subject to industrial needs.

Course overview

The course comprises eight assessed modules, a group project and an individual research project.

The modules include lectures and tutorials, and are assessed through practical work, written examinations, case studies, essays, presentations and tests. These provide the 'tools' required for the group and individual projects.

Group project

The group project is an applied multidisciplinary team based activity. It provides students with the opportunity, whilst working in teams under academic supervision, to take responsibility for project tasks. Success is dependent on the integration of various activities, working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. Many projects are industrially orientated with support from industry and other external organisations.

The dissertation project (for part-time students) has similar goals to the group project without the specific focus on group working.

Industrially orientated, our team projects have support from external organisations. These include: Airbus, Atkins, Altro, Bromford Industries, Benaa Group, BT, Caterpillar, Centre for Process Innovation, Cisco, DPD, Dragon Rouge, Engineering Photonics Centre, Environcom, ERA Foundation, GKN Hybrid Power, HS Marston Aerospace, Ihsan Center, Labinal Power Systems, Maier Group, Novartis, Okaz Organization for Press and Publications, Operations Excellence Institute, Rolls-Royce, Safran Power, SENTi, SPI Laser, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Ultra Precision Centre, and Whirlpool.

As a result of external engagement Cranfield students enjoy a higher degree of success when it comes to securing employment. Prospective employers value the student experience where team working to find solutions to industrially based problems are concerned.


Watch video: Paul Ewers, Visteon Engineering Services, talks about his involvement in the Manufacturing Group Project at Cranfield University.

Watch video: Manufacturing MSc students talk about their experience of the Manufacturing Group Projects at Cranfield University.

Individual Project

The individual research project is either industrially or Cranfield University driven. Students select the individual project in consultation with the Course Director. It provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate independent research ability working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets.


The course comprises eight assessed modules, a group project and an individual research project.


  • Foundation in Materials for Nanotechnology
    Module LeaderDr Paul Jones - Interim Institute Manager
    • Introduction to materials: atomic structure, crystal structure, imperfections, diffusion, mechanical properties, dislocations and strengthening mechanisms, phase diagrams, phase transformations, solidification
    • Introduction to non-metallic materials – polymers, composites, ceramics
    • Survey of materials central to microengineering and nanotechnology
    • Review of microelectronics manufacture and introduction to MST
    • Overview of microsystems and microfabrication technologies
    • Introduction to electrical & functional properties of materials
    • Review of nanotechnology
    • Nanoscale devices.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Describe basic principles of material structures on micro and macro scales
    • Relate microstructure to mechanical performance
    • Explain phase diagrams
    • Describe the terms, concepts and ideas current in microsystems and nanotechnology
    • Describe the technologies used for the manipulation, patterning and removal of materials at the micron and nanometre scale.
  • Engineering Microdevices
    Module LeaderDr Paul Kirby - Senior Research Fellow in Concentrating Solar Thermal
    • Batch semiconductor and processing
    • Silicon and non Si MEMS fabrication
    • Basic analytical modelling techniques
    • Microfluidic, RF-MEMS, Opto-MEMS applications
    • Wafer bonding
    • Processing issues for MEMS
    • Statistical analysis for industrial fabrication lines.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Describe the manufacturing techniques used for MEMS fabrication
    • Relate thin film and bulk material properties to fabrication and function of microdevices
    • Apply fabrication and design rules to the manufacture of microdevices
    • Demonstrate an understanding of microdevice design and modelling
    • Evaluate microdevices and propose routes by which they could be manufactured
    • Identify and analyse manufacturing defects in micro devices and propose relevant solutions
    • Understand the polymer fabrication techniques that can be used to produce microfluidic devices.
  • Nano and Micro Scale Rapid Prototyping Manufacture
    Module LeaderDr Paul Jones - Interim Institute Manager
    • Nano Self Assembly
    • Micro direct write technologies
    • Material interaction rules and challenges
    • Design rules of micro and nano manufacture
    • Nano and micro scale removal techniques.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Describe the operation of nano and micro scale manufacturing techniques
    • Apply fabrication and design rules to the manufacture of micro and nano devices
    • Evaluate nano and micro devices and propose routes by which they could be manufactured
    • Identity and analysis manufacturing defects and propose relevant solutions.
  • General Management
    Module LeaderDr Yuchun Xu - Lecturer in Cost Engineering
    • Management accounting principles and systems
    • Personal style and team contribution, interpersonal dynamics, leadership, human and cultural diversity
    • Sustainability in an industrial context and Strategic Innovation Management
    • Project Management.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Understand the objectives, principles, terminology and systems of management accounting
    • Have an appreciation of inter-relationships between functional responsibilities in a company
    • Have a practical understanding of different management styles, team roles, different cultures, and how the management of human diversity can impact organisational performance
    • Have an understanding of key concepts and principles of Strategic Innovation Management
    • Understand Sustainability from an industrial context, including impacts upon industry and potential responses of industry
    • Understand a formal process for structuring and running projects to ensure a successful completion.
  • Nano and Microtechnologies for Energy
    • Functional materials for energy
    • Piezo & pyro electric, conducting, semi conducting, magnetic, thermoelectric
    • Nano & Micro devices for energy
    • Piezo harvesters
    • Solid oxide fuel cells
    • Battery & supercapacitor technologies
    • Thermoelectrics
    • PV & solar cells.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Describe the operation of a range of small scale energy devices
    • Select and develop a local energy solution for different environmental situations
    • Design small scale energy generators utilising micro and/or nano scale structures
    • Critically evaluate novel energy devices.
  • Finite Element Analysis
    Module LeaderDr Alex Skordos - Senior Lecturer
    • Introduction: general overview of the technique, pre-processing, solution and post-processing, basic terminology, range of applications, basic introduction to materials modelling.  Pre-processing: Introduction to IDEAS, introduction to MSC.Patran, connectivity between different packages.
    • FE for linear elasticity: element types (bars, beams, 2D, 3D, shell elements), one- and multi-dimensional analysis, meshing, symmetry, model development in MSC.Patran, application of boundary conditions, solution in MSC.Nastran/Marc.
    • FE for field problems: analysis of heat transfer problems, equivalence with other field problems, convergence, boundary conditions, model development and solution for field problems in MSC.Patran/Nastran/Marc.
    • FE for advanced analysis: geometric non-linearity, material non-linearity, contact problems, FE for dynamic problems, explicit solution using PAMCRASH, non-linear modelling using MSC.Patran/Nastran/Marc.  
    • Materials modelling: Ab initio modeling, Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics simulation, phase diagrams, diffusion-kinetics-microstructure.
    • Application of finite element analysis to design: optimisation using FE, model uncertainty, variability and Monte Carlo simulation. Typical application areas include aerospace, automotive, impact, composites.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will:

    • Have a basic understanding of Finite Element analysis and its use
    • Be aware of the considerations required for applying the method to the modelling of components, and the limitations associated with the use of Finite Element modelling
    • Have a basic knowledge of how to interpret results obtained from Finite Element analysis
    • Operate a standard Finite Element analysis package to solve linear elastic stress analysis, non-linear stress analysis and field problems
    • Be aware of the range of commercial Finite Element analysis codes available
    • Have an understanding of the role of finite element analysis in component design/optimisation; be aware of possibilities offered by materials modelling and its potential uses.
  • Nanotechnology
    Module LeaderDr Zhaorong Huang - Senior Research Fellow
    • Scaling law and why is nano unique
    • Nanoscale interaction, structure and property characterisation
    • 1D, 2D and 3D nanostructure and nanotechnology
    • Carbon structures, graphene, and carbon nanotubes
    • Nanomechanics
    • Bio nano interface and Bio nanosystems
    • Nano in sensors, transducers and medicine.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Describe how nanostructuring of materials alters the characteristics of the material
    • Identify and propose approaches on how nanotechnology could be used to achieve a desired outcome
    • Critically evaluate the claims of commercial ‘nano’ products
    • Evaluate the potential effects of different ‘nanotechnology’, both in terms of specific actions and also wider connotations.
  • Functional Coatings and Thin Films
    Module LeaderProfessor Jose Endrino - Head of Surface Engineering and Nanotechnology Institute (SENTi)
    • Philosophy of functional surface engineering, general applications and requirements
    • Principles and design of optical coatings
    • Physics of the plasma state and plasma surface interactions
    • Surface engineering as part of a manufacturing process
    • Integrating coating systems into the design process
    • Coating manufacturing processes; Electro deposition. Auto-catalytic deposition, Physical  and chemical vapour deposition, Ion-beam techniques, plasma spray deposition
    • Analytical Techniques: X-ray diffraction, TEM, SEM and EDX analysis, surface analysis by AES and XPS, overview of synchrotron-radiation based techniques for thin films
    • Data interpretation and approaches to materials analysis
    • Coating systems for mechanical applications, Multilayered coating architectures
    • Applications of functional films in electronic, catalysis and biomedical applications.
    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

    • Demonstrate understanding and critical awareness of the concepts of surface engineering
    • Explain the foundations of physical vapour deposition, chemical vapour deposition and other coating technologies and be able to critically appraise their relevance to industry
    • Describe and critically discuss the systematic application of alternative technologies to fabricate coating systems
    • Contrast the mechanisms of coatings growth and review their relevance to industry
    • Design new coating-substrate systems for multiple applications
    • Give examples of functional characteristics of thin film materials and evaluate the most suitable characterisation technique(s) for the given surface problems.


Taught modules: 40%
Group projects: 20%*
Individual project: 40%

Start date, duration and location

Start date: Full-time: October. Part-time: throughout the year.

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year, Part-time MSc - up to three years, Full-time PgCert - one year, Part-time PgCert - two years, Full-time PgDip - one year, Part-time PgDip - two years

Teaching location: Cranfield


There are numerous benefits associated with undertaking a postgraduate programme of study within the Manufacturing and Materials Department at Cranfield University. These include:

  • Study in a postgraduate-only environment where Masters' graduates often go on to secure positions in full-time employment in their chosen field, or undertake academic research
  • Receive instruction from leading academics as well as industrial practitioners
  • Work alongside a strong research team within the Manufacturing and Materials Department
  • Dedicated support for off-campus learners including extensive information resources managed by Cranfield University's library
  • Consultancy to companies supporting their employees on part-time programmes, in relation to individual and group projects.

Acceditation and partnerships

This course has been accredited by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) under licence from the UK regulator, the Engineering Council.

Informed by industry

Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

  • Bombardier
  • Babcock
  • P R Ganguly
  • Machan Consulting
  • SAP
  • Holsim Energy
  • BAe Systems
  • Tata Steel
  • SAS (EUR)
  • Visteon Engineering Services
  • Redmantle
  • Volvo
  • Subsea 7
  • Tulip UK Ltd & Independent Lean Manufacturing Specialist
  • Atos Origin
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Alamo Group Europe Limited (USA)
  • Say One Media
  • Saipem
  • Ford
  • Bernard Matthews
  • Factura
  • BT
  • Price Systems.

Students who have excelled have their performances recognised through course awards. The awards are provided by high profile organisations and individuals, and are often sponsored by our industrial partners. Awards are presented on Graduation Day.

Your teaching team

The course is taught by members of research and academic staff within the Manufacturing theme, staff from other academic departments and industrial representatives.

Facilities and resources

The School of Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing operates facilities and associated equipment which are often unique to Cranfield. Applied Nanotechnology MSc students also benefit from our state-of-the-art infrastucture, designed to support both students and our industrial partners.

We have exceptional materials preparation and characterisation equipment. This includes focused ion beam (FIB), analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and field emission gun scanning electron microscope (FEG-SEM), scanning probe microscopes (SPM), hot stage nanoindentation, surface analysis and mechanical testing. There are also over 100m2 of clean rooms.

Where processing is concerned we support:

  • Spin coating
  • Sputtering
  • Photolithographic processing
  • Reactive and deep reactive ion etching
  • Rapid thermal annealing with furnaces
  • Screen printing
  • Tapecasting
  • Corona and contact poling
  • Chemical stations.

In terms of characterisation we cover:

  • Dielectric, piezoelectric, ferroelectric, pyroelectric
  • Impedance analysis
  • Network analysis
  • Interferrometry
  • Polytec 3D Micro-motion Analyser
  • Atomic force microscopy.

Entry Requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered.
Applicants who do not fulfil the standard entry requirements can apply for the Pre-Masters programme, successful completion of which will qualify them for entry to this course for a second year of study.

English Language

If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification. The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows: IELTS - 6.5 TOEFL - 92  Pearson PTE Academic - 65 Cambridge English Scale - 180 Cambridge English: Advanced - C Cambridge English: Proficiency - C In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test. We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score is too low. We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date). Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.


Home EU Student Fees

MSc Full-time - £9,000

MSc Part-time - £1,500 *

PgCert Full-time - £3,600

PgCert Part-time - £1,500 *

PgDip Full-time - £7,200

PgDip Part-time - £1,500 *

Overseas Fees

MSc Full-time - £17,500

MSc Part-time - £17,500 **

PgCert Full-time - £7,000

PgCert Part-time - £7,000 **

PgDip Full-time - £14,000

PgDip Part-time - £14,000 **


The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,300 per module is also payable.


For taught courses where the registration is 2 years or longer, students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or to pay in four equal instalments at six month intervals (i.e. the full fee to be paid over the first two years of their registration). For courses lasting less than two years, students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or to pay in four equal instalments at three month intervals.

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2015 and 31 July 2016 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
  • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.
  • Fees for entry to the 2016/17 academic year will be available soon.


Funding opportunities exist, including industrial sponsorship, School bursaries and a number of general external schemes.  For the majority of part-time students sponsorship is organised by their employers. We recommend you discuss this with your company in the first instance.

Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme

This course is eligible for the government and industry funded Aerospace MSc Bursary Scheme. The scheme will pay MSc tuition fees (up to £9,500) on behalf of successful applicants.


Application Process

Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

Career opportunities

Successful students will secure positions in the newly developing microsystems and nanotechnology-based industries as well as more traditional industries, such as microelectronics and precision engineering, requiring skills related to those taught. Graduates are able to pursue careers in a diverse range of industries including automotive, aerospace, cosmetics and pharmaceutical.