Surfaces and interfaces

This class introduces the basic concepts used to describe the atomic or molecular structure of surfaces and interfaces and the underlying thermodynamic concepts. The influence of interfaces on the properties of materials is also discussed.


  • Surface and interface energies
  • Real surfaces: defects and reconstruction
  • Solid-liquid interfaces: interfacial energy, work of adhesion
  • Particle-size effects and nucleation
  • Adsorption at interfaces
  • Diffuse interface models
  • Solid-solid interfaces: grain boundaries
  • Heterophase interfaces
  • Epitaxial growth
  • Interfaces with solutions: double layer and Debye-Huckel theory
  • Self-assembly: colloids and micelles

Course material

This course material has been developed between 2014 and 2019 for the MSE304 – Surfaces and Interfaces bachelor class at the Institute of Materials of EPFL. It contains 11 lectures, each including one or more Mathematica CDF “computational demonstrations” of the concepts covered in the lecture.

All of the course materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License