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Nuclear and Particle Physics

This Minor course proposes to explain general topics in Elementary Particle Physics. First the theoretical context necessary to describe spin-1/2 particles is presented in details. Then the Standard Model (SM) and its breaking of the ElectroWeak symmetry is introduced. A presentation follows on fermion masses and neutrino oscillations. From the experimental point of view, the course offers a description of important discoveries, at high-energy colliders, that have allowed historically to draw the present SM picture.

The Nuclear Physics part presents a general introduction on the atomic nucleus properties, then some of the basic models that can describe single particle and collective degrees of freedom of the nucleus, experimental techniques to investigate the properties of the nucleus and practical applications of Nuclear processes: material studies, diagnostics and therapeutics in Nuclear Medicine, radioactive dating.

Syllabus : " Nuclear and Particle Physics "

- Lectures 30 hours, Tutorials 20 hours (2nd Semester) -

(Iolanda Matea, Laurent Simard)

Chapter 1: Fermionic Particles
The Dirac Equation (relativistic quantum theory) & Spinors
Charge conjugation operator, Chirality
The positron discovery by Anderson

Chapter 2: The Higgs Mechanism
Spontaneous breaking of global symmetry
The Goldstone theorem : the U(1) example
The Higgs boson discovery at the LHC / CERN

Chapter 3: Neutrinos
Their masses, oscillation experiments, other constraints
Their nature: double beta decay processes

Chapter 4: Description of the atomic nucleus
The nuclear landscape and basic facts for nuclear models; the deuteron properties
Shell model and residual interaction
         - Independent particle model
         - Two particle configuration
Collective excitations in even-even nuclei, vibrationel and rotational motion

Chapter 5: Experimental studies of the atomic nucleus
Exciting the nucleus
         - Particle Accelerators
         - Reactions: direct and indirect reactions
         - Insight: production and separation of exotic nuclei Observing the nucleus
         - Radiation interaction with matter
         - Particle detection: general properties of radiat. detectors; semiconductor detectors
Selected experimental techniques
         - Particle-gamma detection for nuclear structure studies
         - Life-time measurement techniques: from fast timing to beta decay

Chapter 6: Applications of nuclear physics (selected topics)
Nuclear radioactivity and radioactive dating

Recommended textbooks:

  • Nuclear Structure from a Simple Perspective (Casten)
  • Introductory Nuclear Physics (Krane)
  • Nuclear & Particle Physics (Das, Ferbel)
  • Relativistic Quantum Mechanics (Klasen)
  • Gauge Theory of Elementary Particle Physics (Cheng, Li)

Course prerequisites and corequisites

Those lectures require a solid background in Quantum Mechanics as well as basic notions in Special Relativity.

This Minor course uses aspects developed within the Major course « Particles, Nuclei and the Universe » (1st semester) and it is complementary to the Major course «Advanced Statistical and Quantum Mechanics » (2nd semester).

Course concrete goals

On completion of the course students should be able to:

— understand the Higgs boson mechanism for mass generation
— manipulate the spinors and their Dirac equation
— have an overview of the Standard Model
— describe the formalism of neutrino oscillations
— remember the strategies used in important experimental discoveries of new particles at colliders,

— understand basic properties of the atomic nucleus through the models introduced in the lecture
— have knowledge about different experimental techniques used to study the nucleus (excitation, detection)
— possess a solid scientific background about fields of application of nuclear radioactivity.