Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Nuclear and Particle Physics

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The phenomenology and experimental foundations of nuclear models, forces and particle physics are described in this unit, with specific focus on the fundamental forces and particles that make up the nuclei of matter.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to describe the physical processes associated with phenomena arising from the nuclear properties of matter including the size and shape of nuclei and how these explain the stability of nuclei, their masses and reactions associated with these nuclei.

It also aims to explain the decay processes (alpha, beta and gamma) and how these lead to accurate dating of both organic and inorganic materials.

Furthermore the unit also aims to explain how nuclei are held together through the strong and weak interaction and how these interactions can be derived through conservation and symmetry laws.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- comprehend nuclear decay and how it can be used to work out the age of the Earth;
- explain the basics of nuclear shapes and how they are measured;
- comprehend why some nuclei are naturally occurring and the models for these nuclei;
- explain Nuclear instabilities in terms of Energy-level diagrams, and the stability of nuclei;
- explain the differences between alpha, beta and gamma decay and the rates at which these processes occur;
- compute the relativistic kinematics of nuclear collisions and reactions which led to the prediction of new particles;
- explain the shell model of the nucleus and use this to predict transition rates;
- use Feynman diagrams to describe nuclear reactions and explain the different tests of QED;
- describe the constituents that make up the nucleons inside the nucleus;
- understand the role of the neutrino in the nucleus and understand Fermi's theory of Beta-decay;
- use conservation laws to describe the standard model and CP-violation.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- compute the age of objects from Radioactive decay processes;
- compute scattering cross-sections of nuclear collisions;
- compute decay rates for various nuclei and the accompanying selection rules;
- compute the shape and the stability of various nuclei;
- (approximate) computation of scattering amplitude in QED processes;
- by conservation laws, live time and/or cross section distinguish the interaction with the main role in different particle collisions and decays.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Nuclear Physics:
- Williams, S. C., Nuclear and Particle Physic, Oxford University Press, 1991.
- Krane, K. S., Introductory Nuclear Physics, Wiley, 1987.
- Fermi, E., Nuclear Physics, University of Chicago Press, 1950.

Particle Physics:
- Bettini, A., Introduction to Particle Physics, 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
- Perkins, D. H., Introduction to High energy Physics, 4th Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Tutorial and Project

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Essay SEM2 Yes 40%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Giacinto De Cataldo
Kristian Zarb Adami

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.