Programme And Module Handbook
Course Details in 2025/26 Session

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Module Title LI Particles and Nuclei & A Quantum Approach to Solids
SchoolPhysics and Astronomy
Department Physics & Astronomy
Module Code 03 26017
Module Lead Prof Cristina Lazzeroni (PaN) & Dr Clifford Hicks (QAS)
Level Intermediate Level
Credits 10
Semester Semester 1
Pre-requisites LC Electromagnetism and Temperature and Matter - (03 19750) LC Classical Mechanics and Relativity 1 - (03 19748) LC Special Relativity and Probability and Random Processes - (03 19749)
Restrictions None
Contact Hours Lecture-24 hours
Guided independent study-76 hours
Total: 100 hours
Description Particles and Nuclei:
This module introduces the fundamental (as we understand them) constituents of matter and the forces through which they interact. The conservation laws which constrain which reactions are possible are discussed. The experimental evidence leading to and supporting the theories will be discussed. Natural units are explained, and relativistic invariance used to study reaction kinematics. Nuclear binding energies and masses, and the properties of the forces, are used to explain nuclear decays, fission and fusion.

A Quantum Approach to Solids:
This half of the module will introduce experimental and theoretical bases for explaining observed properties of materials such as heat capacity and conductivity. Following a brief introduction of bonding and crystal structure, a theory of lattice vibrations will be developed and used to explain experimental observations of the heat capacity. This leads naturally to the concept of electrons moving in materials, leading to explanations of metals and semiconductors.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  •  Describe the Standard Model of particle physics, the quark model of hadrons, and explain how the  properties of the forces are related to those of the vector bosons
  • Apply conservation laws to particle interactions and perform calculations using relativistic kinematics to evaluate energies, momenta and masses
  • Describe nuclear stability and reactions in terms of binding energy and apply selection rules to radioactive decays 
  • Describe the basic properties of crystalline solids, and how to identify their structure
  • Explain vibrations in materials and relate these to physically observable properties, such as the heat capacity and thermal conductivity
  • Develop and critique physical models for the heat capacity of solids
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the distribution of electrons as a function of electron energy and the Fermi-Dirac distribution function
Assessment 26017-01 : Examination : Exam (Centrally Timetabled) - Written Unseen (80%)
26017-04 : Assessed Problems : Coursework (20%)
Assessment Methods & Exceptions Coursework (20%); 1.5 hour Examination (80%)
Reading List