Logo UAB


Code: 100920 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500253 Biotechnology FB 1 1
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


F. Xavier Alvarez Calafell

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
catalan (cat)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


The student should be familiar with basic Physics knowledge, especially the topics related to forces or energies. These topics are covered in the secondary school courses  If the student has never studied them it would be good to do the propedéutic course of Physics for Biosciences. it is also recommended at least to read a secondary grade textbook including them.

Physical concepts like electromagnetic fields and waves, although important, are not required because they are introduced again during the course.

Objectives and Contextualisation

Because of its fundamental nature, knowledge in physics is very often a necessary tool for the correct understanding of the phenomena described in other sciences. In the specific case of Biotechnology, for example, to correctly understand the dynamics of chemical reactions within cells, it is completely indispensable to know the physics of diffusion, the field and electrical current or thermodynamics. Without this knowledge a misunderstanding of the biochemistry of the cell is possible.

On the other hand, Physics is required to understand some of the experimental methods that biochemists use daily. In our case, for example, radioactive or fluoescent marking of molecules, centrifugation or magnetic resonance are examples of methods that are clearly based on fundamental physical principles.

The objective of this subject will be the introductory study of all the necessary physical concepts for both, modeling and experimental design in Biochemistry.

Some of the topics will be the starting point of other courses such as Thermodynamics, Bioenergetics and other topics will be fundamental for the practices included in Integrated Laboratories.


  • Learn new knowledge and techniques autonomously.
  • Make decisions.
  • Reason in a critical manner
  • Use the fundamental principles of mathematics, physics and chemistry to understand, develop and evaluate a biotechnological process.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the atomic and nuclear structure of matter. Know the different processes by which atomic nuclei emit radiation and the principal characteristics of the interaction between radiation and matter. Estimate the biological damage produced by radiation.
  2. Describe the principles of thermodynamics and the physical properties of a macroscopic system.
  3. Describe the properties of muscle fibres and body fluids in terms of physics.
  4. Explain the basic mechanisms of electric current and relate them to nerve impulses.
  5. Explain the basic principles of mechanics and apply them to biological systems.
  6. Explain the principles behind the emission of electromagnetic radiation.
  7. Learn new knowledge and techniques autonomously.
  8. Make decisions.
  9. Reason in a critical manner


1 Introduction to the physical characteristics of the molecules
Electrical charge, dipole: polar and non-polar amino acids
Magnetic properties, magnetic resonance
Interaction forces and links between atoms
Energy of interaction
Structure: DNA, proteins, sugars, lipids
2 Basic concepts in kinematics and dynamics.
Speed, acceleration, angular acceleration, centripetal and centrifugal acceleration.
Newton's law: relationship between strength and acceleration
Hooke's Law. Optical tweezers
3 Transport of molecules in fluids
Viscosity; sedimentation
Centrifugation; separation of macromolecules
Diffusion; Fick's law; brownian motion
4 Energy
Kinetic energy, potential energy, work-energy theorem
Conservation of energy
Intramolecular energy; molecular machines
Internal energy, temperature
Dissipation of energy. Entropy Implication in molecular dynamics and chemical reactions
5 oscillations
Elasticity; Harmonic oscillator, damped oscillations
Oscillations typical of molecules; energy absorption; resonance
H2O oscillations and warming with microwave; CO2 oscillations and greenhouse effect
Macromolecular experiments: stretching of DNA and proteins
6 Electricity
Coulomb Law; forces between charges; atoms; molecules; electrostatic contribution to the energy of the ATP
Dipoles; polar molecules; hydrogen bridges
Membrane potential
Ion pumps; ATP-handle and oxidative phosphorylation
7 Magnetism
Magnetic forces; forces in a magnetic field; mass spectrometry
Magnetic dipole
Nuclear magnetic resonance: applications to chemistry, to molecular structure; to medical images
8 Physical optics
Wave nature of light; electromagnetic waves
Interference and diffraction
Diffraction of light in crystals and molecules; molecular structure
Synchrotron radiation
9 Some ideas of quantum physics
Einstein-Planck and de Broglie equations
Quantification of energy levels: particle in a box
Bohr's atomic model; Absorption and emission spectra. Fluorescence
Some ideas of nuclear physics


The subject will be given alternating different types of methodologies:

- Master classes where the general concepts of the different topics will be introduced

- Solving problems  where the teachers will solve the exercises previously selected in previous days

- Practices where questions will be proposed where Physics is related to biosciences and where the student will have to solve certain questions in a group

- Resolution of autocorrection questionnaires through a computer using the Moodle platform

- Reading of didactic material in biosciences where physical concepts are applicable

- Experimental practices at home.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Problem solving classes 12 0.48
Theory classes 30 1.2
Type: Supervised      
Practices 4 0.16
Type: Autonomous      
Experimental work at home 5 0.2
Homework 35 1.4
Reading of educational material 10 0.4
Resolution of computer assisted questionaries 20 0.8



Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Computer assisted practices 20$ 30 1.2 7, 2, 1, 4, 6, 8
Exams 80% 4 0.16 2, 3, 1, 4, 5, 6, 9


Basic bibliography

  • Jou, D, Llebot, J.E. y Pérez Garcia, C. Física para ciencias de la vida. Mc Graw-Hill.

Further reading

  • Kane, J.W. y Sternheim, M.M. Física. Ed. Reverté.
  • Tipler, P.A. y Mosca, G. Física para la ciencia y la tecnología. Ed. Reverté