Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: Nanosensors

Course unit code: 571427

Academic year: 2021-2022

Coordinator: Albert Romano Rodriguez

Department: Department of Electronic and Biomedical Engineering

Credits: 2,5

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 62.5


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Lecture





-  Special practices





-  Student presentation and discussion




Supervised project


Independent learning




Competences to be gained during study


Basic competences

— Capacity to apply the acquired knowledge to problem-solving in new or relatively unknown environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to the field of study.

— Capacity to integrate knowledge and tackle the complexity of formulating judgments based on incomplete or limited information, taking due consideration of the social and ethical responsibilities involved in applying knowledge and making judgments.

— Capacity to communicate conclusions, judgments and the grounds on which they have been reached to specialist and non-specialist audiences in a clear and unambiguous manner.


General competences

— Capacity to identify the scientific and industrial landscape in the immediate, national and international environment in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

— Capacity to work independently, manage time and projects effectively, and acquire specific knowledge in order to gain entrance to doctoral programmes in nanoscience and nanotechnology.


Specific competences

— Capacity to recognize technological advances and current problems in the domain of nanotechnology as an interdisciplinary science.

— Ability to perform research and development tasks in relation to new nanostructured materials and nanodevices with innovative functionalities and potential applications in biotechnology, pharmacotherapy, information processing and storage, and improved energy use.

— Abilities and skills in the field of nanotechnology to establish future areas of research, development and production in companies associated with the field.





Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

— Get to know and understand the main features and parameters of a generic sensor.


— Get to know the main sensor platforms and sensor configurations.


— Understand the main sensing/transduction mechanisms.


— Gain technical criteria to find the most suitable technology for different applications.


Referring to abilities, skills

— Acquire the knowledge on how to use and measure a sensor device.


— Acquire the knowledge on how to gather, interpret and use scientific and technical information on sensors and new technologies.


Referring to attitudes, values and norms

— Critically analyse the performance of different micro and nanotechnologies.



Teaching blocks


1. Fundamentals of sensors

*  Estimated workload: 4 class hours

1.1. Definitions and concepts

1.2. Characteristics of a sensor

2. Transduction principles

*  Estimated workload: 4 class hours

2.1. Fundamentals of electronic materials

2.2. Physical phenomena

2.3. Chemical phenomena

2.4. Biological phenomena

3. Transduction platforms and measurement

*  Estimated workload: 8 class hours

3.1. Electronics for sensor interfacing

3.2. Inter-digital transducer (IDT)

3.3. Active electronic transducers

3.4. Electrochemical transducers

3.5. Optical waveguide-based transducers

3.6. Acoustic wave transducers

3.7. Cantilever-based transducers

4. State of the art in nanosensors

*  Estimated workload: 8 class hours

4.1. Motivation for sensor dimension reduction

4.2. Cantilever-based mass sensors

4.3. Chemical gas sensors

4.4. Photosensors



Teaching methods and general organization


To develop the skills defined in the objectives, the active learning of students is encouraged. Lectures will be combined with other in-class activities, such as problem solving and discussions. Therefore, attendance is strongly recommended.

In parallel, throughout the semester, students shall prepare, under the guidance of lecturers, a written assignment based on current literature in which the state of the art of some type of nanosensor shall be described. This work will be presented orally in class.

Practical sessions are mandatory for all students. In them, students measure and analyse the behaviour of real sensors and submit a short report for assessment.

Additionally, a visit to the facilities of a company dedicated to designing and producing sensors is planned. Assistance is mandatory and can be taken into account in the final grade.

The materials of the course will be made available via the Virtual Campus progressively throughout the course. Students must follow the notices, advertisements, etc., published through this platform. Students must submit all the activities requested within the deadlines established by the lecturers, either in class or via the Virtual Campus. Failure to deliver the activities on time will imply a negative evaluation.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


Continuous assessment

The final grade of the course will be assessed according to different activities that will be carried out throughout the semester and which are all mandatory. They are divided into theoretical and practical parts.

a) In the theoretical part, which accounts for 85% of the grade, three different items will be assessed:

a1) The resolution of exercises proposed during the course. Worth 25% of the grade. Students must obtain 5 or higher out of 10. This activity cannot be reassessed.

a2) The preparation and public defense of an assignment on a specific type of sensor to be carried out during the last 2 or 3 sessions of the course. This activity is worth 25% of the grade and there is no minimum mark. Attendance to all assignment sessions is mandatory. This activity cannot be reassessed.

a3) An exam on the different topics presented in the course. Worth 35% of the grade. Students must obtain 5 or higher out of 10.

b) The practical part, which accounts for the remaining 15% of the grade, consists of a laboratory exercise in which students measure the characteristics of some sensors. This mark will be obtained from the individual elaboration and critical discussion on the measurements and on some sensor data treatment. This activity cannot be reassessed.

Students must obtain an overall grade of 5 or higher out of 10 to pass the course.

Repeat assessment

Students who pass activities a1) and b) and who fail the activity a3) are entitled to take a new exam. The mark obtained in it, if equal to or higher than 5 out of 10, will replace the one obtained before in the activity a3), giving the final mark. The other parts cannot be reassessed.


Examination-based assessment

Students who request single assessment within the established deadlines must complete only two tasks, both mandatory:

a) An exam on the topics and exercises of the course. Worth 85% of the grade. Students must obtain 5 or higher out of 10.

b) The completion of a laboratory exercise, following the same conditions as those for continuous assessment. It will be carried out together with the students who opt for continuous assessment. Worth 15% of the grade. This activity cannot be reassessed.

Repeat assessment

Students who pass the activity b) and who fail the activity a) are entitled to repeat assessment, consisting of a new exam. Students have to obtain a mark of 5 or higher out of 10 in it to pass the subject. In this case, the final grade is calculated in the same way as above.