Spring 2024 - CHEM 419 D100

Special Topics in Analytical Chemistry (3)

Nanoscale Materials

Class Number: 3121

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Jan 8 – Mar 28, 2024: Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Apr 4 – Apr 12, 2024: Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2024
    Wed, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Byron Gates
    1 778 782-8066
    Office: SCC9026
  • Prerequisites:

    CHEM 316 with a minimum grade of C-.



Principles and applications of emerging techniques in analytical chemistry.


This course will provide an in-depth introduction to a series of advanced analytical chemistry techniques. You will be introduced to the role of engineered nanomaterials across many sectors of our economy. Discussions will focus on techniques that are being developed and utilized to study engineered nanomaterials. These techniques will include analyses as they pertain to the study of single particles (e.g., quantum dots, halide perovskites, single proteins), assemblies of particles (e.g., nanocatalysts, battery materials), and functional nanomaterials (e.g., nanosheets, zeolites, MXenes).

Have you ever wanted to learn more about engineered nanomaterials? Have you ever wanted to know more about the tools and techniques that enable the analysis of engineered nanomaterials and related materials? Or have you faced challenges in selecting an appropriate technique for the analysis of your materials? Are you interested in knowing how to tell the purity of the materials you are synthesizing? Or are you faced with the challenge of knowing whether your modification of nanoscale materials was successful? Or are you interested in learning additional techniques that are available to enable research at the forefront of nanoscience? This class is for you!


Mode of Instruction:

4 lecture hours/week
Lecture: In-person at Burnaby Campus

Lecture Topics:

  1. Introduction
    1. Scales of matter
    2. Introduction to engineered nanomaterials
    3. Challenges of materials analysis at the nanoscale
  2. Visualizing nanomaterials
    1. Electron microscopy methods
    2. Determination of composition, crystallinity
    3. Pushing the limits of resolution
  3. High throughput single particle analyses
    1. Overview of techniques available
    2. Quantitative analyses
    3. Distinguishing chemical species at the single particle level
  4. Advanced X-ray spectroscopy techniques
    1. Understanding chemical bonding environment(s)
    2. Distinguishing surface states from core species
    3. Enabling operando measurements
  5. Introduction to the challenges of surface analyses
    1. Quantifying surface modifications
    2. Assessing the uniformity of surface treatments
  6. Scanning probe techniques
    1. Overview of techniques enabled by scanning probe methods
    2. Molecular scale resolution
    3. High spatial resolution spectroscopy
  7. Practical training on data acquisition and analysis
    1. Analysis of an unknown sample
    2. Work-up of data through a quantitative treatment of peak analysis
  8. Case study of select classes of nanomaterials
    1. Focused studies on, for example, electrocatalysts, magnetic nanomaterials, plasmonic nanomaterials
    2. Practical considerations for sample preparation
  9. The future of nanomaterials analysis



There will be an opportunity for hands-on acquisition and practical training in the work-up of data for the analysis of an unknown material. All students will also be required to select a focused area of study related to the analysis of engineered nanomaterials from a list of topics (or to suggest their own topic) with approval from Prof. Gates. Each student will prepare a written review with an emphasis on key, enabling technologies that have served as pivotal steps forward in advancing materials analysis. Each student will also present an overview of their report to the class. All material presented will be subject to inclusion in the final exam.


  • Quizzes 20%
  • Homework (including one lab report) 20%
  • Report presentation 20%
  • Written term report 20%
  • Final Exam 20%


Undergraduate students enrolled in this course will be conducting similar presentations, reports, and examinations as graduate students, but the student’s performance at each assessment will be evaluated at their appropriate standard.



Laboratory notebook, pen, USB for file transfer.


A selection of electronic readings will be provided throughout the course. 


Review your introductory analytical chemistry textbook(s) to be familiar with the terminology therein and the basic principles of the techniques covered therein.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

A grade of C- or better is required for all prerequisite courses.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.