Nuclear Physics and Electrons in Solids

School of Physics and Astronomy

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Details

Code 17300

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 10

Semester 1 and 2

Module description

Nuclear Physics (semester 1): Neutrons and protons form the building blocks of the atomic nucleus but only certain combinations are stable. Why is this so? Given that the early Universe was and still is predominantly hydrogen how were the other elements formed? What powers the sun and other stars? Why do radioactive nuclei decay in a particular way? How do we detect the products of nuclear decay? Can we use radioactive materials in healthcare and industry? What properties should these radioactive species have to be useful? How can we make precise measurements on something which is only a few femtometers in diameter? The course aims to provide an introduction to Nuclear Physics and in doing so address the above questions. We will look at nuclear binding and consider its impact on nuclear decay. We will also examine selection rules which determine decay rates and mechanisms. There will be a blend of basic nuclear physics, measurement techniques and applications. We will also examine selection rules which determine decay rates and mechanisms. Hydrogen burning in the sun will be studied along with the nuclearsynthesis of the elements in stars and supernovae. There will be a blend of basic nuclear physics, measurement techniques and applications.
Electrons in Solids (semester 2): The properties of solid state materials are, by and large, determined by the behaviour of electrons inside them. This module will introduce the fundamental characteristics of electrons in metals and semiconductors. Following a brief introduction of bonding and crystal structure, the free electron theory will be introduced to describe the electrical and thermal properties of metals. This leads naturally to the concepts of semiconductors, eg why the conductivity of a semiconductor increases with temperature whilst it is the opposite with metals. The magnetic properties of solids will also be described based on the fundamental behaviour of electrons.