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PHYS 576 B: Selected Topics in Experimental Physics

Meeting Time: 
TTh 7:00pm - 8:50pm
PAA A110
Joint Sections: 
PHYS 576 D
Alejandro Garcia

Syllabus Description:

Physics 576 Fall 2019

Radiation: Sources, Detectors and Safety

Prof. Alejandro Garcia (


Office hours:

Garcia: to be announced;



T-Th 6:30-8:20

NPL conference room

This is a class on Radiation: Sources, Detection, and Safety. Students will learn some basic concepts on nuclear physics; the processes that can produce radioactivity and to recognize dangerous versus safe environments; practical experience with high-resolution photon detectors; the basics of particle accelerators and practical experience with our own tadem accelerator; the basics of Rutherford scattering and how it can be used to identify minute amounts of contaminants; the basics of the functioning of nuclear reactors; and some concepts on nuclear astrophysics.
I hope you find this course stimulating and interesting.

I will expect you to read the material that will be covered in a class ahead of time. I expect students to ask on average one question per class. Students will ask the question during lecture and will then send an electronic note to the instructor to register the question. The questions will be posted by the instructor anonymously but so that others may have a reminder of what issues were considered.

Lectures will take place in room 178 at the North Physics Laboratory (Look it up on campus maps). Most of the lectures will occur on Tuesdays at 6:30PM each week. However, on many occasions we will also meet on Thursdays to make sure we cover the material or get lab practice.
date       lecture readings instructor Lab
Sep. 26th The atomic nucleus. Basic nuclear physics. Nuclear energy. Orders of magnitudes. Week 1 Garcia None
Oct. 1st Attenuation of photon radiation. Solid state detectors. Ge and Si. Week 2 Garcia Lab: Ge detectors; Deciphering the gamma mystery spectrum. Group A: Tuesday; Group B: Thursday.
Oct. 8th Ranges of ions and electrons. Radioactivity and radiation damage and health risks: Alpha, beta, gamma activity and neutrons. Week 3 Garcia/Will Lab: radiation detectors; photons, electrons, alpha, neutrons. Altogether on Tuesday.
Oct. 15th Tuesday: Counting statistics. Thursday: CENPA tour. Week 4 Garcia CENPA tour: altogether on Thursday.
Oct. 22nd Functioning of accelerators. Tuning beam through our own accelerator. Week 5 Smith/Garcia Accelerator I. Both, group A and B, on Thursday.
Oct. 29th Rutherford scattering. Deciphering the mystery spectrum and the contents of the mystery foil. Week 6 Garcia/Smith/Dodson Lab group A: Rutherford scattering, Thursday 6:30-9:00PM
Nov. 5th Fission and fusion. The functionning of reactors. Rutherford scattering lab session for group B. Deadline for paper subject decision Week 7


Garcia/Dodson Lab group B: Rutherford scattering, Thursday 6:30-9:00PM.
Nov. 12th Nuclear resonances. Nuclear astrophysics: nucleosythesis in stars. Week 8
Nov. 19th

Basics of Shell Model. Approximate predictions using simple models. Using quantum numbers and predicting decay rates.

Nuclear resonances lab, group B.

Boeing visit: postponed. Map

Week 9 Garcia/Smith


Lab group B: (p,g) nuclear resonance. Thursday 6:30-9:00PM.

Nov. 26th Tuesday: Boeing visit; meet Tuesday at 6:45PM at Boeing.Map? Week 10 Garcia

Tuesday: Boeing visit; meet Tuesday at 6:45PM at Boeing.Map?

Thanksgiving holiday: Nov.28-29.

Dec. 3rd Searching for new  physics with 6He. Lecture on Thursday, Dec. 5th. Week 11 Garcia Lab group A: (p,g) nuclear resonance. Tuesday 6:30-9:00PM.
Deadline for paper: Dec. 6th


Grading Policy

Grading of lab practices reports done using the follwing grid:

Presentation: 10 Points
Practice procedure description and
answering practice-guide questions:
20 Points
Data: 10 Points
Analysis: 10 Points
Conclusions: 10 Points

The final course grade is based on a paper that students will write, on the lab practices and quizzes grades, and on class participation using the grid:

Practice reports and quizzes: 20 Points
Paper: 20 Points
Class participation: 10 Points


For information about texts, grading see COURSE INFORMATION (which is also on the "Pages" link).

For useful links and latest news on particle physics see USEFUL LINKS & IN THE NEWS. Please email suggestions.

Here is the the tentative schedule. Readings for each lecture are noted---class quizzes will assume these readings.


Section Type: 
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:41pm