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Part III Options: Interdisciplinary courses

IDP1: Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change

This course is hosted by and based in the Department of Chemistry

Prof. R. L. Jones, Dr A. C. Maycock and others

This course looks at global change from the perspective of atmospheric composition and its linkage to the climate system. Issues covered include the fundamental photochemical and dynamical processes which control atmospheric composition and structure, and how they would differ in a modified climate. The course is designed to complement the material covered in Course IDP2 The Earth System and Climate Change, although either course can be taken independently. The course will be lectured and examined in a way that assumes no prior knowledge for those taking the course. Examination questions will be based on both core and specialist lectures.

Core lectures (12)

Atmospheric composition and structure. Stratospheric and tropospheric chemical processes. Climate change.

Major stratospheric catalytic cycles of NOx, HOx, ClOx and BrOx. Atmospheric aerosol and heterogeneous chemistry. Ozone depletion in the Antarctic, Arctic and middle latitudes. Future O3 trends.

Tropospheric ozone and tropospheric oxidation processes, including the importance of the OH radical. The ozone balance - the role of NOx and hydrocarbons.

Past climates – how this influenced the composition of past atmospheres and what they can tell us about future changes.

Greenhouse gases. Radiative balance. Climate change and the links between atmospheric chemistry and climate.

Specialist lectures

The impact of volcanic eruptions on the atmosphere and climate. (Dr Marie Edmonds, Earth Sciences)

Ice cores and global change (Dr Eric Wolff, British Antarctic Survey)

The Role of aerosols in climate (Dr Michael Herzog, Geography)

The carbon cycle (Dr Andrew Friend, Geography)

Recommended books

R. P. Wayne, Chemistry of Atmospheres, Third Edition (2000), OUP.

G. P. Brasseur, J. J. Orlando and G. S. Tyndall, Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change, (1999), OUP.

T. E. Graedel and P. J. Crutzen, Atmospheric Change - An Earth System Perspective, (1993) W. H. Freeman and Co (New York).

B. J. Finlayson-Pitts and J. N. Pitts, Jr Chemistry of the upper and lower atmosphere, Academic Press.

D. J. Jacob, Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry, (2004) Princeton University Press.


The following two items contains useful introductory material

J. T. Houghton, Global warming, the complete briefing, (2004), CUP. International Panel on Climate Change.


IDP 3: Materials, Electronics and Renewable Energy

This course is given by the Department of Physics

N C Greenham

This interdisciplinary course looks at the physical issues concerning energy generation, storage and use. The course aims to develop skills in using simple physical estimates for a wide range of energy problems, while also looking in more detail at materials-based approaches to renewable energy. Only IA-level physics is a prerequisite; those who have experience of solid-state physics will find some parts of the course more straightforward, but the material will be taught and examined in such a way that prior knowledge in this area is not required.

Energy requirements and energy availability: Back-of-envelope models of energy consumption and production. Current and projected usage. Alternatives to fossil fuels: nuclear, wind, wave, tide, geothermal, solar.

Hydrogen and batteries: Hydrogen vs. electric vehicles. Generation and storage of hydrogen. Electrochemical principles. Batteries. Fuel cells.

Exergy: Heat engines, heat pumps. Exergy and exergy efficiency.

Heating and cooling: Practical heat pumps. Combined heat and power.

Engines: The Otto cycle. Stirling engines.

Solar energy: Sunlight, solar concentration, solar thermal. Scale of solar installations required. Theoretical limits to conversion of solar energy.

Electronic structure of molecules and solids: Tight-binding band structure. Interaction with light. Excitons. Electrons and holes. Doping.

Inorganic semiconductor solar cells: The p-n junction. Photovoltaic operation. Cell design, materials and performance.

Molecular semiconductors: Materials and optical properties. Excitons. Marcus theory. Photovoltaic devices: multilayers, bulk heterojunctions and dye-sensitised cells.

Advanced photovoltaics: Tandem cells. Multiple exciton generation.

Photosynthesis: Structure and optoelectronic operation. Charge separation and recombination. Efficiency. Biofuels.


Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air, Mackay D J C (UIT Cambridge 2009)

The Physics of Solar Cells, Nelson J (Imperial 2003)

Molecular Mechanisms of Photosynthesis, Blankenship R E (Blackwell 2002)