Nuclear and Particle Physics module (PH42006)

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From the fundamental particles that make up the building blocks of matter to the enormous energy produced by nuclear reactions, the fields of nuclear and particle physics explore the fundamental nature of matter, energy, and the forces that govern them. With cutting-edge experiments like the Large Hadron Collider and the search for new forms of matter, nuclear and particle physics offer a window into the workings of the Universe. 

In this module, you will develop a deep understanding of the properties and structure of nuclei and an appreciation of nuclear scattering techniques. You will learn about the fundamental forces, elementary particles, and their place within the Standard Model. 

Topics include: 

  • The size and shape of nuclei 

  • Rutherford scattering 

  • Nuclear mass and nuclear models, including the liquid drop model and the development of the semi-empirical mass formula (SEMF) 

  • Exploitation of the SEMF for determining beta stability 

  • Nuclear instability and radiation (Segre chart) 

  • Nuclear forces and exchange model 

  • Formal treatment of alpha, beta and gamma decay based on Fermi theory 

  • Lifetime correlations with strong, weak and electromagnetic interactions and the application of the Breit-Wigner equation to resonance phenomena. 

  • Nuclear reactions: formal treatment of fission and fusion processes, including reactor design and constraints. 

  • Particle physics: symmetries, isospin, and additional quantum numbers, including strange quarks. 

  • Parity violation in weak decay 

  • Particle families in the context of the standard model.