Nuclear physics

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is that the student is eventually able to understand the issues of current interest in nuclear physics, being capable to orient himself/herself in the literature on nuclear structure and reactions. In the first part of the course, the main features of the interaction among nucleons, the properties of the nuclear ground-states, the limits of nuclear stability and the main aspects of the nuclear spectra are introduced. In the second part, the basic notions on nuclear reactions are discussed. The course ends with a short discussion of the applications of nuclear physics to astrophysics. In the course, comments about the present status of our knowledge and about the open problems that are object of active research, are included.
Expected learning outcomes
1.The student will know the main features of the interaction among nucleons in vacuum and in the nuclear medium.
2.The student will have a general knowledge of the structure of the nuclear ground-state, of shell structure, as well as of deformation and superfluid phenomena. The student will also know the limits of nuclear stability.
3.The student will know the general features of the nuclear spectra.
4.The student will distinguish the main types of nuclear reactions (direct or compound nucleus reactions, elastic, inelastic and transfer reactions).
5.The student will know the general features of nuclear fission and of heavy-ion fusion.
6.The student will know the main applications of nuclear physics to astrophysical processes (reactions within stars, nucleosynthesis, compact objects)
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The course will be delivered in the second semester, therefore the content of this form may change. If emergency continues, the course will be held in remote/synchronous mode, respecting the weekly schedule, on Zoom.
Course syllabus
1. Nucleon-nucleon (NN) interaction in the vacuum and in the nuclear medium. Links with simple systems (deuteron) and with two-body scattering. NN interaction and field theories (short). Three-body forces.
2. Models for nuclear structure: shell model, Hartree-Fock. Pairing interaction and Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory for nuclear superfluidity.
3. Proton-deficient or neutron-rich nuclei. Limits of nuclear stability ("drip lines"): masses of unstable nuclei, density distributions, halo nuclei. Experimental techniques for the study of unstable nuclei: production and acceleration of radioactive beams.
4. Nuclear spectroscopy. Spherical and deformed nuclei. Collective vibrational states of spherical nuclei and linear response theory to an external field.
5. Nuclear deformation. Rotational spectra. Adiabatic approximation.
6. Nuclear reactions: introduction, kinematics and conservation laws. Scattering theory and formal theory of nuclear reactions. Direct elastic and inelastic reactions. Transfer reactions. Compound nuclear reactions. Nuclear temperature.
7. Nuclear physics and astrophysical processes: stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis, reactions in the sun, reactions in more massive stars and Gamow peak.
8. Neutron stars: bulk properties (mass and radius), Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkov equation, relationship with the nuclear equation of state.
9. Fusion reaction between heavy ions. Nuclear fission.
Prerequisites for admission
It is expected that the student masters general physics at the level of the B.Sc. degree. More specifically, however, it is expected that: (1) the student has the introductory knowledge provided by a basic Course of Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics (bulk nuclear properties, semi-empirical mass formula, nuclear charge density, nuclear decays); (2) the student knows non-relativistic quantum mechanics.
Teaching methods
Before the Course, a text written by the instructor is made available. Moreover, the program of the Course is presented in a detailed fashion. Lectures take place in classroom, with a prevalent use of the blackboard (although involved figures and tables are displayed with a projector, or shown to the students in other ways). There is ample room for discussion. The consistency between the language used and the research interests of the students are checked.
Teaching Resources
Web page, with lecture notes and more bibliography: reachable starting from;
C. A. Bertulani, Nuclear Physics in a Nutshell, Princeton University Press, 2007.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The student is asked to give an oral exam, which is generally divided into two parts. The underlying reason is that the program is very broad. Consequently, in a first part the student has to show he/she has acquired a reasonably complete knowledge of a topic of his/her own choice, and has to discuss the topic in a methodologically appropriate manner. Then, the student is asked general questions on the rest of the program of the Course, with the aim of understanding if he/she has a correct understanding of which topics are relevant and well-established, and which topics are less relevant. The evaluation is focused on the student's maturity, in terms: (1) capability of putting topics in perspective; (2) capability of using knowledge that has been acquired in other Courses, (3) knowledge of nuclear phenomenology and theoretical interpretations, (4) presentation skills.
FIS/04 - NUCLEAR AND SUBNUCLEAR PHYSICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours
Professor: Colo' Gianluca