African Physics Newsletter

University of Tunis El Manar Launches a Master’s in Nanophysics and Nanotechnology

New courses topics in nanosciences that have never been taught in Tunisia before.

Founded on a firm belief in the necessity of training the next generation of Tunisian researchers and engineers in nanotechnology, the Research Master's Program in Nanophysics and Nanotechnology was established and launched in 2019 at the Faculty of Science, University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia. It is a 2-year program designed for graduate students of physics, chemistry, and engineering.

The program is centered on a high-level academic training in fundamental aspects of nanoscience to provide the enrolled students with the technical expertise for theoretical and experimental study and development of nano-systems. The students will be well-trained to work in academia after obtaining a Ph.D., or in industry as R&D engineers and researchers, chief technologists, production managers, quality engineers, etc.

The objective of the master’s program in Nanophysics and Nanotechnologies is to provide students with the background needed for an ongoing doctoral level in fundamental or applied physics following a multi-disciplinary approach. The students enrolled in the first year for the academic year 2019-2020 have shown exemplary motivation. Despite the difficult conditions, due to the Covid19 pandemic, all students worked hard and passed their exams. They are also pursuing summer internships in different companies and research laboratories. Proud of you dear students!
– Prof. Najeh Mliki Thabet, Master’s of Nanophysics and Nanotechnology Coordinator

A driving force of innovation

Today, nanotechnology is a driving force of innovation in numerous scientific fields and industries, such as medicine, biology, and computation. Ergo, as the field is ever-developing and continues to explore the infinite possibilities of nanoparticles, the demand for skilled researchers, engineers, and developers in nanotechnology is proliferating internationally and across industries.

Accordingly, the master's curriculum is developed as diverse and interdisciplinary, including courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and scientific programming, as well as professional communication, bibliographic research, and entrepreneurship. Thus, the program provides students with crucial professional skills for their careers in research and development.

Studying Nanophysics gives you a deep knowledge of how the matter behaves at the nanoscale. This year I had the chance to learn several lessons on Quantum Mechanics and its applications in different fields, Solid State Physics, Statistical Physics, Quantum Gas and Cold Atoms. Understanding all these interesting phenomena provided a clear vision of the theoretical part of Nanotechnology
– Badis Fadhel, student.

Classes and research internship

The program for the Master's of Nanotechnology and Nanophysics consists of 3 semesters of classes, and a research internship within laboratories or R&D companies. The students are expected to join research groups in Tunisia or abroad to work on a wide range of projects closely related to nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The first class gathers twelve students from different Tunisian universities and diverse backgrounds, mainly in physics, chemistry, and engineering. This diversity of skills and academic profiles is particularly enriching and interesting to both students and professors.

Online classes

Besides their academic and technical assets, all the students proved their dedication and high motivation to pursue the program and achieve academic success. Indeed, despite the exceptionally challenging academic year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the classes were carried out on online and the curriculum was completed within two months, with no interruption.

After the lifting of lock-down in June, students returned to campus and some professors adopted new teaching strategies based on the flipped classroom method to engage students in course development and lecture delivery. For instance, as part of the Cold Atoms and Quantum Gases class, students worked on reading, analyzing, and presenting different scientific papers specific to the field. The exams and regular tests were also conducted in June and the final results of the first year came out crowning this remarkable year with a 100% pass rate!

It was a year full of work; we studied various subjects deeply and gained many skills in one year! We were like family, and all the professors did their best. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t stop us, and we were studying online daily. On this occasion, I extend my sincere thanks to all the professors for their efforts and their devotion to their work, especially for motivating us to succeed
– Arij Benlakhdher, student

Extended learning opportunities

Along with the excellent academic achievements, and depending on their career aspirations, the students continued to acquire valuable practical knowledge by joining important research institutes in Tunisia. The learning opportunities, however, extended beyond the university and labs.

The author of this article had the chance to participate in the Qiskit Hackathon of Quantum Computing organized by IBM in South Africa in December 2019. After the event, she launched many initiatives to gather quantum computing enthusiasts in Tunisia, intending to learn and share knowledge about the ground-breaking field.

First time in Tunisia

The third semester started in October 2020, in which the curriculum includes several exciting and in-demand courses. Among these, nanophotonics, nanomagnetism, and quantum information are exclusively introduced in this master’s program, and some courses will be taught for the first time in Tunisian universities.

Indeed, we expect the new academic year to be equally challenging as we are studying on campus under unusual circumstances. Yet, we are confident that with joint efforts and devotion, we will experience another fulfilling year despite difficulties. Above all, we are particularly excited about this year as the first class will be graduating by 2021 and finally stepping into the professional world.

Sahar Ben Rached, Master’s Candidate in Nanophysics and Nanotechnology, University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia

This article has first been published by the African Physics Newsletter - © American Physical Society


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