Degree course: 
Corso di First cycle degree in Physics
Academic year when starting the degree: 
Academic year in which the course will be held: 
Course type: 
Compulsory subjects, characteristic of the class
Second semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (64 hours)

Quantum physics with exercise classes (Module 1)
Electromagnetism (Modules 1 and 2)

Final Examination: 

The course examination takes the form of a single final written test. With the aim of verifying the student's ability to address and solve problems in nuclear and subnuclear physics, using the techniques illustrated and exemplified during the course, various problems in quantum and relativistic mechanics, nuclear interactions and structure are proposed; In addition, to ascertain their expositional capabilities in nuclear and subnuclear physics, the students are required to write two short essays on chosen topics related to the course.

Voto Finale

The aim of the course is to provide students with the basic notions of nuclear structure and nuclear and subnuclear interactions together with the theoretical and experimental techniques required for their study. Everything is presented within the framework of modern physics with the application of quantum mechanics and the use of relativistic mechanics. The basic physics of the production of nuclear energy and the functioning of the Sun is also presented.

• Introduction – Fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics and Relativity:
› Wave–particle duality and the uncertainty principle; 
› Lorentz transformations;
› Four-dimensional covariant formulation.

• The Nuclear Structure and Processes:
› Nuclear characteristics;
› Binding energy and stability;
› Nuclear models – liquid drop, shell, Fermi gas;
› Alpha, gamma and beta decay;
› Natural radioactive decay chains;
› Deuterium and low-energy nucleon–nucleon diffusion;
› Fission, fusion and the principles of the nuclear reactor.

• The Interaction of Radiation with Matter:
› Introduction to the forms of radiation;
› Concept and definition of cross-section;
› Rutherford's scattering experiment;
› Fermi's golden rule.
› Interactions of photons with matter;
› The propagation of neutrons in matter;
› Cosmic rays and their interaction with the atmosphere.

• Radiation and Particle Detectors:
› The classification of detectors;
› General features – spectra, resolution, statistics;
› Gas detectors;
› Semiconductor detectors;
› Scintillators.

• Particle Accelerators:
› The classification of accelerators;
› Linear accelerators;
› Betatron, cyclotron, synchrotron.

• The Standard Particle Element Model:
› The classification of elementary particles;
› The electroweak interaction;
 › The strong nuclear interaction;
› Grand unification and beyond.

The course opens with a brief review of the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and special relativity. The topics covered are: wave–particle duality and the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics; the Lorentz transformations and the  four-dimensional covariant formulation of special relativity.

The first main topic of the course is nuclear structure and processes. We begin by examining the known general characteristics of nuclei such as density, binding energy and stability as a function of the atomic mass and number. Using the information obtained we then proceed to construct the various nuclear models: liquid drop, fermi gas and shell, discussing in some detail the nature of the spin-orbit interaction. Having some understanding of nuclear structure, we then turn our attention to beta-decay and the problem of parity violation in the weak interaction.

The following chapter discusses the interaction between radiation and matter. We start with an introduction to the various forms of radiation. We then move on to the concept and definition of cross-section and Rutherford's scattering experiment. The quantum version, using Fermi's golden rule is re-examined with the aim of describing correctly the interactions of various particle types with matter; the propagation of neutrons in matter; and cosmic rays and their interaction with the atmosphere.

The next topics concern the more specifically experimental aspects of nuclear and particle physics: radiation and particle detectors and particle accelerators. We open with a general classification of detectors, their general features: spectra, resolution and statistics. We then examine in some detail the various types of detectors in use today or until recently: bubble chambers, gas detectors, scintillators, semiconductor detectors and CCDs. Accelerator physics is then discussed starting with the general classification of accelerators and then continuing with detail descriptions: from linear accelerators to the betatron, cyclotron, synchrotron and ring accumulators.

Our knowledge of nuclear structure is then utilised to approach the various forms of nuclear decay: alpha-, gamma- and beta-decay; natural radioactive decay chains; and finally fission, fusion and the principles of nuclear reactors and energy generation (via both fission and fusion) and the internal functioning of the Sun.

The course closes with a rapid overview of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics: the classification of elementary particles; the electroweak interaction; the strong nuclear interaction; grand unification and beyond.

During the course in each chapter exercises are given to the students to be solved at home. At various useful intervals specific examples classes are held to cover the problems distributed and present new exercise in order to prepare the students for the final examination.

Notes available online:

Suggested supplementary but not compulsory texts:
Povh et al., “Particles and Nuclei”, Springer Verlag, 1995;
Krane, “Introductory Nuclear Physics”, John Wiley & Sons, 1987.

Conventional blackboard lectures, including exercise classes in the classroom for a total of 64 hours.

Office hours:
by appointment (write to