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Before choosing course

Course offering missing for current semester as well as for previous and coming semesters
* Retrieved from Course syllabus SI2550 (Autumn 2007–)

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

Phase separation in binary mixtures, mean field theory for phase transitions, differential geometry for surfaces and hydromechanics. Surface tension. Thermal fluctuations of surfaces, capillary waves, wetting of surfaces, wetting profiles and contact angles. Continuum theory for van der Waals interactions. Electrostatics, Debye-Hueckel theory. Curvature and surface tension of thin membranes. Undulations and peristaltic fluctuations in membranes of finite thickness. Colloids, DLVO-theory and self aggregating surfaces Atomistic versus field theoretical modeling of membranes and surfaces.

Intended learning outcomes

The course aims at giving basic knowledge about atomic and field theoretical modeling of surfaces, interfaces and membranes with applications to biological membranes, material science and chemistry. After finished course the student should be able to:

  • Describe and apply simple continuum models for membranes and interfaces.
  • Formulate mean field models for binary mixtures using variational principles and solve these in simple cases.
  • Determine ion concentration profiles and interactions between charged surfaces in solutions using electrostatic continuum models.
  • Derive simple equations for the interactions between surfaces within the scope of a continuum theory for van der Waals interactions.
  • Describe basic physical models for interactions in colloids, micro emulsions and solutions containing micelles and vesicles.
  • Realize the limitations of simple continuum models.

Course Disposition

No information inserted

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Recommended prerequisites: Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics corresponding to SI1161.

Recommended prerequisites

No information inserted


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S.A. Safran, Statistical Thermodynamics of Surfaces, Interfaces, and Membranes, Westview Press, 2002.

Other literature: D. Boal, Mechanics of the cell, Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • INL1 - Assigment, 7,5 hp, betygsskala: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Solutions of given home exercises, which are to be discussed with the examiner (INL1; 7,5 university credits).

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Profile picture Erik Lindahl

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web SI2550

Offered by

SCI/Undergraduate Physics

Main field of study


Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted


Erik Lindahl (