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Applied Nanotechnology MSc/MTech/PgDip/PgCert


Applied Nanotechnology Masthead

'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: 3M Health Care, ABSL Space Products, APROSYS, Airbus, Aston Martin, BAE Systems, BT, Chubb Security, Cranfield Impact Centre, DSGi, Ford Motor Company, GEC, GlaxoSmithKline, Hallmark Cards UK, IBM, Jaguar, Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey & Company, Motorola, Pfizer, Philips, Rolls-Royce and Unilever. 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.

    See our Manufacturing Group Projects from 2012/2013

    See our Manufacturing Group Projects from 2013/2014

    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.

  • Modules

    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

      To provide a broad qualitative understanding of selected parts of materials science relevant to engineering structures, microsystems and nanotechnology. It also introduces concepts of team working, self-study and self-management, Cranfield's structure and essential issues relevant to management in a technical environment.

      • 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.
    • Microsystems Manufacturing Processes
      Module LeaderDr Paul Kirby - Senior Research Fellow in Concentrating Solar Thermal

      To provide specialist training in batch MEMS manufacturing techniques. The module will explore fabrication technologies for realising modern day microsystems.

      • Batch semiconductor & MEMS processing
      • Silicon & non Si MEMS fabrication
      • Microfluidic 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 operation of MEMS manufacturing techniques
      • Apply fabrication and design rules to the manufacture of micro devices
      • Evaluate micro devices and propose routes by which they could be manufactured
      • Identity and analysis manufacturing defects in micro devices and propose relevant solutions.
    • Nano and Micro Scale Rapid Prototyping Manufacture
      Module LeadersDr Paul Jones - Interim Institute Manager,

      To provide specialist training in nano and micro scale manufacturing techniques. The module will explore innovative micro and nanoscale fabrication technologies for realising modern day nano and microsystems.

      • 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

      To give an introduction to some of the key general management, personal management and project management skills needed to influence and implement change.

      • 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

      To provide specialist training on role of nano and microtechnology in energy generation, storage and distribution with a focus on distributed energy solutions. The module will explore the way in which different functional and nano materials can be used and structured in the field of 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 and Materials Modelling
      Module LeaderDr Alex Skordos - Senior Lecturer

      This module introduces the principles and practice of Finite Element analysis and the modelling of materials in numerical analysis.

      • 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

      To provide an overview and specialist training on a wide-range of applications in nanotechnology. The module will explore the mechanisms that operate at the nanoscale and how they can be harnessed for beneficial effects in fields such as mechanics, biology and medicine.

      • 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.
    • Surface Engineering and Coatings
      Module LeaderProfessor John Nicholls - Professor of Coatings Technology

      To provide an understanding of the role that surfaces play in materials behaviour concentrating on optical applications of coating systems. To introduce the concepts of surface engineering and how surface engineering may be used to optimise a components performance. To introduce suitable analytical techniques used to evaluate and characterise surfaces and thin samples.

      • Philosophy of 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. Plasma spray, Physical vapour deposition, Chemical vapour deposition, Ion-beam techniques, Reactive atom plasma technology.
      • Analytical techniques: X-ray diffraction, TEM, SEM and EDX, WDX  analysis, surface analysis by AES and XPS and SIMS, overview of other techniques
      • Data interpretation and approaches to materials analysis
      • Coating systems for optical applications
      • Multilayered coating architectures
      • Anti-reflection coatings
      • Wavelength selective coating design.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

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

      • Demonstrate an understanding and critical awareness of the concepts of surface engineering
      • Demonstrate a sound knowledge for the systematic application of alternative technologies used to fabricate coating systems
      • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the physics and chemistry of physical vapour deposition and chemical vapour deposition, and their relevance to industry
      • Demonstrate knowledge and critical awareness of plasma/surface interactions and their relevance to industry
      • Demonstrate understanding and critical awareness of current principles of optical coating design
      • Critically evaluate the microstructure characteristics used to describe materials
      • Recommend techniques used to characterise the surface and explain the principles behind their operation.
  • Assessment

    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: One year full-time, two-five years part-time

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    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.
  • Accreditation and partnerships

    This degree 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. View the 2014 Prize Winners booklet.

  • Your teaching team

    The course is taught by members of research and academic staff within the Materials Department, 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 will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements. The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £9,000


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

    MSc Part-time - £1,500 *

    PgDip Full-time - £7,200

    PgDip Part-time - £1,500 *

    PgCert Full-time - £3,600

    PgCert Part-time - £1,500 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £17,500


    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.

    MSc Part-time - £17,500 **

    PgDip Full-time - £14,000

    PgDip Part-time - £14,000 **

    PgCert Full-time - £7,000

    PgCert Part-time - £7,000 **

    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.
  • Funding

    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.