Nuclear Physics and Neutrinos

School of Physics and Astronomy

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Details

Code 17301

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 10

Semester 1

Module description

Nuclear Physics - 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 somthing 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.
Neutrinos - The module gives an overview of our current understanding of the properties and interactions of the neutrino, starting with a short review of the basics of the Standard Model of Particle Physics (constituents, forces, conserved quantum numbers, basic kinematics). It shows the extent to which this knowledge is supported by data, and describes key experiments which demonstrated the existence of the n, the number of generations of light n, helicity and finite mass (inferred from oscillations). The principles and processes involved in the detection and analysis of neutrino data are reviewed, using recent examples from the SuperKamiokande and SNO experiments. Solar and atmospheric neutrinos results are presented and the concept of neutrino oscillations is introduced. The formalism for two state mixing is derived and applied. Neutrinos are considered in the context of dark matter, and to conclude future medium term developments in the field (long baseline neutrino experiments, neutrino factories) are presented.