Degree course: 
Corso di Second 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
First Semester
Standard lectures hours: 
Detail of lecture’s hours: 
Lesson (60 hours)

The full understanding of the program requires:

- a solid knowledge of the foundations of quantum mechanics, especially useful for the formalism describing the oscillations of neutrinos;
- knowledge, at an introductory level, of nuclear physics and elementary particle physics;
- it is desirable, but not mandatory, to have successfully attended a course on ionizing radiation detectors or a laboratory where these instruments are used.

Finally, it is necessary a good understanding of the English language, at least up to the level required to read the slides that the teacher will use in the lectures (they will be often in English) and publications and texts extracted from the scientific literature that will form the basic teaching materials.

Final Examination: 

The exam is oral, and typically consists of three main questions on the three sections of the course. Clear-cut answers will not be requested, but in general the development of a subject, which may be complemented by additional questions that require short answers. At least one of the three main questions require an analytical work, in which the student will develop a series of mathematical steps to deduce a formula of particular relevance with pen and paper. Each main question will be given a score (up to 10); the final grade will be the sum of the three attributed sub-scores. If the note is 30, a question for Laude will be proposed to the student, in general to examine the student's ability to reason on topics that fall outside the program carried out (even though closely related to it), based on the information acquired.

Voto Finale

The objective of the course is to introduce a relatively new discipline in fundamental research, known as “astroparticle physics”, located across elementary particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology.
The lessons will concern three areas of this discipline, i.e. (i) the basic properties of the neutrino, (ii) the characteristics of cosmic radiation and associated problems, and finally (iii) the direct detection of dark matter.
The course, starting from the cultural grounds of the students, aims to provide a non-superficial knowledge of cutting-edge topics of basic research, which are constantly changing and require a real-time update. It is expected that students will become familiar, albeit at an introductory level, with the three chosen subjects, learning formalism that describes them and the associated experimental techniques. (Descriptor of Dublin: Knowledge and Understanding.)
Beyond the mere knowledge, the course aims to immerse students in a live search field and to excite and stimulate their enthusiasm for the discipline. It is also expected that, in front of a new experiment or a new conceptual development, the student is able to understand and appreciate its importance. (Descriptor of Dublin: Making Judgments.)
Finally, the student will have the tools to deepen its knowledge on specific subjects, thanks to the basic knowledge acquired and to the indications provided by the course on where and how to obtain further information. (Descriptor of Dublin: Learning Skill.)

Introduction and overview of the discipline of astroparticle physics, a subject cutting the boundaries between particle physics, nuclear physics and astrophysics.


Summary about weak interactions; charged and neutral currents

Cabibbo allowed and Cabibbo suppressed processes; Cabibbo angle and the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa matrix

Similarities between the hadron and lepton sector; flavor and mass eigenstates for neutrinos and Pontecorvo-Maki-Nakagawa-Sakata matrix

The masses of neutrinos and their hierarchy

Calculating the probability of neutrino oscillation in vacuum in the general case of three active flavors

Assumptions of sterile neutrinos and basic related phenomenology

Special cases of the neutrino oscillation probability: two-flavor case; case in which the structure of the mass hierarchy implies two very different mass separations

Neutrino oscillation in matter: formalism for two active flavors, with particular emphasis on the case of the solar matter

Oscillations of atmospheric neutrinos: an experimental review

The solar neutrino puzzle and its resolution: experimental overview

Oscillations of neutrinos produced by accelerators or nuclear reactors

How the experimental results are measuring the elements of the Pontecorvo-Maki-Nakagawa-Sakata matrix

Helicity of neutrinos; Dirac and Majorana neutrinos

Relevance of the double beta decay in neutrino physics and fundamental interactions; experimental survey on the double beta decay

The question of the neutrino mass scale and its role


Characteristics of the primary cosmic radiation: composition and energy distribution; spectral characteristics known as "knee" and "ankle"

Abundance of elements in the cosmic radiation and in the matter of the solar system: comparison and considerations

Equations that govern the abundance of a nuclear species or particles in the composition of cosmic radiation

Escape time concept and "leaking box model"

Energy contained in cosmic radiation and power required by the mechanism that generates it; galactic supernovae as a plausible acceleration mechanism up to the "knee"

The spectrum of cosmic radiation at high energies, next to the cut-off of Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin

Calculation of pion generation (and hadron in general) in the galactic cosmic radiation

Calculation of the diffused gamma background in galactic cosmic radiation and comparison with observations

Considerations on the presence of antimatter in the galactic cosmic radiation

Original Fermi’s proposal for acceleration mechanism: justification of the power-law behavior of the energy spectrum of the cosmic radiation

Modern acceleration mechanisms; Peters cycle and Hillas plot


Evidence of the existence of dark matter

Corpuscular hypothesis for the composition of the galactic dark matter

Supersymmetry mentions: neutralinos and WIMPs

Interaction of WIMPs with ordinary matter; low-energy nuclear recoils and their hypothetical spectrum depending on the mass of WIMPs, of the target atomic mass, and of the WIMP-nucleus and WIMP-nucleon cross sections; spin-dependent and independent interactions

Characteristics of an ideal WIMP detector

Hybrid detectors for the detection of WIMPs

Experimental review and present research

The teaching material, which will be provided to students in electronic format, will consist of the projected slides and a series of scientific papers on the three topics.

A part of the course will take place on the traditional blackboard (in particular that which involves analytical steps of a certain complexity, as in the formalism for neutrino oscillations in vacuum and in matter), while another part will make use of slides (especially when it is need to show graphics, experimental results and diagrams illustrating the structure of experiments).

Students can request an appointment to discuss course topics through the professor’s e-mail (, who will respond to students by one - two days offering a range of dates and times for the discussion, which will take place in the office of the professor.