Program

The Master in Chemistry and Physics of soft matter program is a specialized master course. It has no bachelor course of studies as a precursor.

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First Semester

  • Nanomaterials

    The course will give a broad overview on nanomaterials, their synthesis, physicochemical properties, functionalization, characterisation and application. The lectures will cover theoretical aspects just as well as practical approaches to these materials. A particular focus lies on magnetic and optical properties, top down and bottom up approaches will be introduced, and ethical concerns will be discussed in this course.

  • Fundamentals Cell Biology

    This course will teach the fundamentals in cell biology including cell structure and function. Regulation of genes, the structure and synthesis of proteins, how these molecules are integrated into cells, and how these cells are integrated into multicellular systems and organisms will be covered.

  • Scientific Writing

    This course teaches the skills required to write and publish scientific articles

  • Microscopy

    Aim of this lecture series is to give a broad overview into high-end microscopy including light and electron microscopy techniques.

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  • Statistics and Experimental Design

    The lectures cover basic probability (concepts of probability, important distributions) and statistics (parameter estimation, hypothesis testing, linear regression) with focus on biological applications and introduce all important concepts used in the following courses.

Elective courses 1st semester

  • Advanced Polymer Chemistry

    Topics of this course include mechanistic and kinetic aspects of anionic and cationic polymerizations, olefin metathesis polymerization, controlled radical polymerization, ring opening polymerization, and Ziegler Natta polymerization. Additional topics that will be discussed include polymers from renewable sources, biopolymers, and reactions that permit post-polymerization functionalization.

  • Polymer Engineering

    This class is an introduction to the engineering and technology of polymeric materials. Topics include: an introduction to the structure and properties of polymers in the solid state, structural organization (i.e., crystallinity, liquid crystallinity, phase separation), thermal transitions, viscoelastic behavior, rubber elasticity, mechanical properties, additives, blends and composites, polymer processing, and polymer recycling.

  • Physical Chemistry of Self-Assembly

    The course will offer an overview on self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules (surfactants) as well of nanoparticles. The topic will be addresses from a physicochemical perspective, starting from the fundamental thermodynamic properties of surfaces.

  • Advanced Biomaterials

    The chemistry and material science of hybrid materials comprising biological and synthetic building blocks will be taught. Moreover, the course will cover applications of biological materials as engineering materials, in nanotechnology and as biomaterials.

  • Selected Topics in Materials and Inorganic Chemistry

    Latest developments in the (nano-) material sciences, both soft and hard.

Second semester

  • Scattering Techniques

    The scattering of light, electrons, x-rays and neutrons provides a non-destructive way to analysis the internal structure of materials. This course will provide the theoretical background and applications for of a range of scattering methods.

  • Basic Polymer Chemistry

    This course will introduce the most important principles and concepts of polymer chemistry, provide an overview of reactions to synthesise polymers, discuss physical properties of polymers in solution and the solid state, and give a first overview of the properties of polymers.

  • Soft Condensed Matter Physics

    This course discusses the physics of materials that combine aspects of liquids and solids. It encompasses the physical properties of polymers, colloids, gels, and soft materials in nature.

  • Biophysics

    This course will teach the fundamental concepts of biophysics and discuss modern techniques to study cells and biological molecules. The practicals associated with this lecture will provide students with hands-on training in Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) experiments, in Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS), and in Electrophysiology for ion channel and nanopore recordings.

Elective Courses 2nd semester

  • Soft matter modelling and simulation techniques

    A range of different computer modelling approaches are routinely used to predict the structural, mechanical, electrical, optical, rheological, ... properties of newly developed materials. Modelling can also help to interpret the results of complex measurement techniques. This course will introduce several modelling techniques that are routinely used in soft-matter science.

  • Materials for Energy Applications

    The manufacture of solar cells, batteries, fuel-cells, etc. employs soft materials in many different ways. This course will discuss recent developments in the material development for energy applications and how soft-matter science can contribute to these.

  • Risk Assessment and Toxicology of Modern Materials

    This course will describe and explain the basic principles of the emerging discipline of nanotoxicology. Multidisciplinary implementation of material science techniques based on in vitro and in vivo toxicological methods will be considered when assessing the risk of engineered nanomaterials for human health and the environment.

  • Biomembranes

    This course focuses on the biochemistry and biophysics of transport and signalling processes through biomembranes as well as on the relevance of these processes for human disease. It discusses the molecular details of membranes, including: (1) Structure and composition of biomembranes; (2) Structures and properties of lipids; (3) Lateral and transverse asymmetry in membranes: (4) Model membranes; (5) Membrane dynamics and protein-lipid interactions; (6) Interaction of small molecules with mem- branes: partitioning, permeability, and electrical effects; (7) Methods for studying biomembranes; (8) Porins, ion channels, and transporter proteins; (9) Membrane enzymology; (10) Cell Surface: recep- tors, membrane recycling, and signal transduction.

  • Principles and Materials for Solar Energy Conversion

Third Semester

  • Functional Materials

    Polymers with dynamic covalent bonds, Healable Polymers, Mechanochemistry in Polymers, Mechanically Adaptive Polymers, Shape Memory Materials. Electrically Conducting Polymers, Light-Emitting Polymers, Photovoltaic Polymers, other photovoltaic materials, nonlinear optical materials – Synthesis, Physics, and Devices.

  • Biological materials

    The course will cover the chemistry and material science of materials occurring in the living world, such as polysaccharides, proteins, nucleic acids, lignin, rubber, other naturally occurring polymers, composites and biominerals. Moreover, characterization methods for biological materials will be introduced.

  • Innovation

    This module will introduce the important steps on the way from a discovery in the lab to a product on the market. Students will learn to evaluate research results, secure intellectual property, evaluate its commercial value, and develop a business model. The students will also learn the difference in managing incremental vs. disruptive innovation and the differing approaches of innovation management in start-up companies vs. corporate technology enterprises.

Hands on courses

  • Basic Laboratory Skills

    This practical course will provide an introduction in experimental techniques and instrumentation of soft-matter research. It provides the basis for the two short projects and the MSc thesis project.

  • Research Project I

    Over the course of the second semester, the student will carry our a project in one of the soft-matter research groups.

  • Research Project II

    Over the course of the third semester, the student will carry our a project in one of the soft-matter research groups.

  • MSc Thesis Project

    The final part of the MSc programme consists of an 8-month project in one of the soft-matter research groups.

The following information sheets provide you with an overview of the curriculum, including ECTS and examination methods.

Description of the courses

Official Plan

Industry Internships 

We propose a paid industry internship program during summer breaks. The Industry Internship Program in Biomimetics is a cross-collaborative initiative of Swiss Science institutes in Switzerland:

- The EPFL Bioinspired Projects Platform.

- The NCCR Bioinspired Materials which, together with University of Fribourg and Adolphe Merkle Institute launched the Master of Science in Chemistry and Physics of Soft Materials.

- The ETHZ Complex Materials Laboratory

- The University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW.

Shift Zurich  - an event partner to promote the industry internship results in August/September 2018 Shift conference.

The internships are discussed individually with each student, in agreement with his/her needs/wishes. For more information, contact the student advisor.