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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Physics Short Name: PH2M-MP
Level: HE2 Module Co-ordinator: CATFORD WN Prof (Physics)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability

Semester 1 and Semester 2.

Assessment Pattern

Assessment Pattern


Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards Module Mark(%)


Solid State Physics Examination




Nuclear Physics Examination




Atomic Physics Examination




Coursework (SS/AP Class Test)




Laboratory (Modern)




Qualifying Condition(s):


University general regulations refer.



Assessment Schedule


Examination Paper 3 (June):


3 hour examination consisting of;


Answering 2 from 3 questions on Solid State Physics


Answering 2 from 3 questions on Nuclear Physics


Answering 1 from 2 questions on Atomic Physics


(weighted at 75% of the Modern Physics examination unit of assessment for each of Solid State Physics, Nuclear Physics and Atomic Physics)



Examination Paper 5 (June):


3 hour examination consisting of sections on Mathematical Quantum and Computational Physics (PHY2056), Classical Physics (PHY2015) and Modern Physics (PHY2017);


Answer 5 questions on Solid State Physics, Nuclear Physics and Atomic Physics


(weighted at 25% of the Modern Physics examination unit of assessment for each of Solid State Physics, Nuclear Physics and Atomic Physics)


Coursework (Semester 1):


Solid State Physics (10%)/Atomic Physics Class Test (3%)(week 15)


Note: the weight of each part of the text to the total module mark is indicated.


Laboratory (Semester 2):


Laboratory Diary aggregate (9%)


Laboratory Report/Oral Presentation (9%)


Note: the weight of each Laboratory mark to the total module mark is indicated.


Module Overview

Solid State Physics:


A treatment of classical solid state physics, including crystal structure, phonons and the role of specific heat, the free electron theory of metals and band theory.



Nuclear Physics:


Introducing the key aspects of modern nuclear physics, including nuclear properties, radioactive decay, nuclear models and the principles and applications of nuclear reactions and fission.



Atomic Physics:


To both revise and build upon Atoms, Molecules and Quanta at Level HE1 and extend discussion of stability of many-electron systems and of basic molecular spectra.



Experimentation (Modern):


A six half-day laboratory consisting of a series of two-week experiments designed to supplement the lecture material and to give a varied experience of modern physics phenomena.



Solid State , Nuclear Physics and Atomic Physics:


PHY1031 - Waves, Particles and Quanta module or equivalent


PHY1012 –Mathematics Module



Experimentation (Modern):


PH1011 - Experimental Physics Module


Module Aims

Solid State Physics:


To develop the student’s knowledge and understanding of some key concepts in solid state physics, including in particular, crystal dynamics, free electrons in metals and energy bands.



Nuclear Physics:


To develop an understanding of simple nuclear properties, radioactive decay, basic nuclear models, nuclear reactions and their application.



Atomic Physics:


To build on the students understanding atomic physics from the level HE1 course using a more rigorous approach to the theory. Expand this work to cover multi-electron atoms and introduce the student to molecular physics and spectroscopic techniques.



Experimentation (Modern):


To build on the foundation of earlier practical classes and emphasize the motivations for performing experiments both to verify theory and to improve understanding.  The importance of keeping a laboratory notebook (diary) and the clear presentation of results will be stressed.


Learning Outcomes

Solid State Physics:


The student will be able to describe the modes of vibration of a crystal lattice and how these lead to a successful theory of specific heat; the relationship between specific heat and conductivity (electrical and thermal); and the key aspects that differentiate conductors, semi conductors and insulators.



Nuclear Physics:


When you have finished this module you should be able to:


-          describe the magnitude and origin of simple nuclear properties;


-          derive the Activity of a Daughter nucleus in terms of the Parent Activity;


-          extend the derivation to specific radioactive equilibrium problems;


-          describe and classify the modes of decay of nuclei and describe the resulting emission spectra;


-          explain the different terms contributing to the semi-empirical mass formula;


-          understand the basis of the nuclear shell model;


-          know the difference between direct and compound nuclear reactions;


-          calculate excitation energies of compound nuclei, threshold kinetic energy for an endothermic reaction, energies of projectiles after elastic and inelastic scattering;


-          understand the way a simple nuclear reactor operates.




Atomic Physics:


When you have completed this module you should have a good understanding of the quantum mechanics of the atomic structure of both single and many electron systems and use this understanding to explain observed atomic spectra, including fine and hyper structure. You should be able to calculate the ground state of atoms using Hund’s rules. You should also understand how atomic physics can be applied to molecular interactions of diatomic molecules and understand the rotational and vibration of these molecules and the associated techniques of Raman and ESR.



Experimentation (Modern):


On successful completion you will be able to perform an experiment of intermediate difficulty, either involving practical or computational skills, by following written instruction. You will be able to keep a comprehensive diary of the activity, recording results in a form useful to others, and to complete a full but selective report, based on the diary, in the style of a scientific paper. The specific practical skills gained will vary according to the choice of the experiments.


Module Content

Solid State Physics:


This component comprises a set of 24 lectures in solid state physics with a large group tutorial support. Through the Level HE1 prescribed physics courses, all students with have acquired a knowledge of basic properties of matter, wave like behavior and an introduction to simple quantum mechanical concepts. This course builds on that knowledge to introduce some of the key concepts in solid state physics, including crystal dynamics, free electrons in metals and energy bands.



Crystals : Crystal lattice, reciprocal lattice, vibrations and diffraction


Lattice Dynamics: Phonons, density of states, Debye theory of lattice specific heat, thermal conductivity


Free Electron Theory of Metals: Occupation of states by Fermi-Dirac statistics, Fermi energy. Electronic specific heat, Electrical conductivity.


Band Theory: E-k relation, Brillouin zones, band structure (energy gaps and band overlap), low dimensional systems and quantum structures (density of states), distinction between metals, semiconductors and insulators.



Nuclear Physics:


A first course in the physics of the nucleus.



Introduction: Terminology, scattering definitions, Rutherford Scattering, units.



Nuclear Properties: Size, mass, spin, magnetic moment, binding energy, stability.



Radioactive Decay: Basic concept, mean life, half-life, decay sequences, branching.  Secular and transient equilibrium.  Beta decay: isobar mass curves, beta spectrum.  Alpha decay: relationship to binding energy per nucleon (B/A), alpha spectrum, kinematics of decay.  Gamma decay: association with alpha-, beta-decay. Selection rules for beta and gamma decay.



Nuclear Models: Semi-empirical mass formula: liquid drop models.  Fit to B/A versus A curve.  Discrepancies – magic numbers.  Shell model: infinite square well, harmonic oscillator potentials, need for spin-orbit potential, Pauli principle, pairing.



Nuclear Reactions: Definitions: endothermic and exothermic reactions. Threshold energy. Kinematics. Centre of mass reference frame. Direct, compound nuclear reactions.



Nuclear fission and applications: Nuclear fission: prompt and delayed neutrons, liquid drop description, energy release, fission barrier, mass distribution.  Fission reactor: chain reaction, multiplication constant, critical condition, crucial role of delayed neutrons, four factor formula, corrections for losses.



Atomic Physics:


Introduction with review of:


(i)                  Hydrogen atom – spectroscopic notation and quantum numbers


(ii)                Spin-orbit interaction and its effects upon atomic spectra


(iii)               Pauli exclusion principle and electron spin


(iv)              Multi-electron atoms – shells and sub-shells



Structure/spectrum of Helium – the exchange interaction


Atoms with several valence electrons


States of total angular momentum using the m-scheme


The use of jj and LS coupling and selection rules.


Hund’s rules for ground states of multi-electron atoms


Orbit-orbit and spin-spin interactions: connection to Hund’s rules


Role of the nucleus: Isotope shifts and hyperfine structure


Spectral line broadening (natural and Doppler)


Inter-atomic potential energy


Born-Oppenheimer approximation and separation of separation of spectra


Diatomic molecules and their vibrational and rotational spectra


Molecular electronic spectra: Raman and ESR spectra



Experimentation (Modern):


You will perform a selection of three experiments with the general theme of nuclear physics, atomic physics, semiconductor physics, etc.  You will produce 6 lab diary entries and either a full report or oral presentation on one experiment.  You will receive detailed marking and feedback on how to improve the usefulness of both, to yourself and others.  Typical experiments include: Muon lifetime, a, b and g- spectroscopy, Compton scattering, g-g  correlations, Rutherford scattering, Positron annihilation, Radiation decontamination, X-ray diffraction of crystals, semiconductor laser diode physics, photoluminescence, and others.


Methods of Teaching/Learning

Solid State Physics:


39 hours of lectures and tutorial periods.



Nuclear Physics:


39 hours of lectures and tutorial periods.



Atomic Physics:


12 Hours of lecture classes.



Experimentation (Modern):


Six 4-hour laboratory sessions.


Selected Texts/Journals

Solid State Physics:


Recommended Reading :


i.                C Kittel, Introduction to Solid State Physics, Wiley.


ii.              J S Blakemore, Solid State Physics, Cambridge University Press.


Advanced Reading :


i.                Ashcroft and Mermin, Solid State Physics, Holt Rinehart and Winston.


Elementary Reading :


i.                Rudden and Wilson, Elements of Solid State Physics, Wiley.


ii.              H M Rosenberg, The Solid State , Oxford , [Third Edition], 1990.



Nuclear Physics:


i.                K S Krane , Introductory Nuclear Physics, Wiley, ISBN 0-471-85914-1.


ii.              J S Lilley, Nuclear Physics: Principles and Applications, Wiley, ISBN 4-471-97936-8.



Atomic Physics:


Recommended reading:


1.      1. H. Haken and H.C. Wolfe, the Physics of Atoms and Quanta, 7th Edition, Springer.


2.      2. R. Eisberg and R. Resnick, Quantum Physics of Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei


3.          and Particles,   2nd Edition, Wiley.


4.      3. G. Herzberg, Atomic Spectra and Atomic Structure, Dover Publications.


5.      4. B.H. Bransden and C.J. Joachain, The Physics of Atoms and Molecules, Prentice-Hall


6.      5. H.E. White, Introduction to Atomic Spectra, McGraw Hill


7.      6. T.P. Softley, Atomic Spectra, Oxford






Experimentation (Modern):


Required Reading :


i.                Laboratory instruction sheets provided.


ii.               Physics Laboratory Handbook: Level 1, Physics Department.



Recommended Reading :


Squires, Practical Physics, McGraw Hill..


Last Updated

August 2010.