NFYB13008U  Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics

Volume 2015/2016
BSc Programme in Physics

The purpose of this course is to give an introduction to the modern description of nature's smallest units, the subatomic systems at the femtoscale: atomic nuclei and elementary particles.
The course will cover the theoretical and experimental advances which have lead to the current understanding of physics at the subatomic scale, as well as outline the currently open questions in subatomic physics.

More specifically, the course will cover the following topics:

Symmetries and conservations laws in nuclear and particle physics.
Relativistic kinematics and applications in particle physics and heavy ion physics.
The Standard Model theory: fundamental particles (quarks and leptons), and their interactions through the exchange of the force-bearing particles (photons, gluons and heavy vector bosons, representing respectively the electromagnetic, strong and weak force). The Higgs mechanism.
Tests of the Standard Model at particle collider experiments.
Neutrino oscillations and masses.
Evidence for new physics beyond the Standard Model description.
Ultra-relativistic nucleus collisions, quark-gluon plasma in the early universe and in the laboratory.
Nuclear models (liquid drop, shell and collective model) and the nucleon-nucleon interaction.
Models of alpha, beta and gamma decay, fission.
Nuclear astrophysics.primordial and stellar nucleosynthesis.

Learning Outcome

When the course is finished it is expected that the student is able to:

Describe the nucleus as a many-body quantum mechanical system of nucleons bound together by the strong interaction.
Explain the liquid drop model and understand the limits of stability of nuclei.
Explain the basic features of ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions and the properties of the hadron-gas to quark-gluon phase transition.
Explain some basic models and experiments for the study of quark-gluon plasma.
Describe the simplest nucleus (the deuteron) and neutron-proton scattering from the Schrödinger equation applied to a square well.
Understand and describe the shell-model with central potential and spinorbit coupling and characterize energy states in terms of the relevant quantum numbers. Explain the extension to systems showing collective motion (rotation and vibration). Explain alpha particle decay, fission and fusion reactions in potential models with barrier penetration. Explain the Fermi theory of beta decay.
Apply the main concepts acquired in the course to explain the primordial and stellar nucleosynthesis.
Acquire a basic understanding of energy scales, masses and sizes relevant for nuclear phenomena.

Explain the basic elements of the Standard Model of particle physics.
Explain the theoretical and experimental results which have lead to the formulation of the Standard Model. Describe some of the problems and limitations contained in the Standard Model.
Use special relativity (4-vectors and Lorenz transformations) to solve simple quantitative particle physical problems.
Use Feynman diagrams to analyze particle physical processes and decay and calculate their rates qualitatively.
Describe the concept of symmetry and its implication in particle physics.
Describe the structure and static and dynamic properties of hadrons.

Be able to read and explain the essence of a scientific article in experimental subatomic physics.

At the end of the course, students will master the basic concepts and techniques of particle physics and nuclear physics. An active student will understand the basics of the Standard Model for particle physics and basic models describing atomic nuclei, and be able to explain how particle and nuclear physics processes have contributed to the evolution of the present universe.

The students will be able to read research literature in the field and understand and discuss the main results of present day research.

B.R. Martin

Nuclear and Particle Physics: An introduction

Second Edition

publisher: Wiley

Quantum physics corresponding to Quantum Mechanics 1 and 2, special relativity and mechanics corresponding to first year curriculum
Lectures, hands-on exercises, paper readings and discussions
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min
The oral exam is based on:
A scientific article which the student draws 2 days before
the exam and presents at the exam.
Questions on the article and the relevant background
subject matter supplemented by general questions.
All aids allowed

All aids allowed during the preparation for the exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
More internal examiners
Criteria for exam assesment

Grade 12 is given for a performance where the student independently and with clear overview documents his/her knowledge and understanding of all the points mentioed under "Learning Outcome".

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 66
  • Practical exercises
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 51,5
  • Exam
  • 48,5
  • Total
  • 206,0