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Module PY2N20 Modern Physics and Materials

Cohort: SF Nanoscience, Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials

Credits: 10

This module combines three elements of modern physics and an introduction to materials as follows:

Special Relativity

Lecturers: Professor C. Patterson

Duration: 12 lectures *Taking place in Michaelmas Term*

Frames of reference and relativity principles. The Michelson-Morley experiment. Einstein's postulates, simultaneity, the Lorentz transformations, the Fitzgerald-Lorentz contraction, time dilation, transformation of velocities. Relativistic dynamics - mass, energy and momentum.

Nuclear and Particle Physics

Lecturers: Dr M. Stamenova

Duration: Hilary Term, 14 lectures

Models of the atom. Rutherford scattering. Cross-sections. Nucleons. Nuclear force. Nuclear binding. Nuclear masses. Mass defect. Mass dependence of binding energy per nucleon. Beta decay. Electron, positron emission. Electron capture. Decay chains. Alpha decay. Heavy element decay chains. Barrier penetration mechanism. Gamma decay. Radioactive decay law. Analysis of parent-daughter activity relationships. Nuclear fission. Liquid drop model. Fission products. Induced fission. Nuclear reactors. Neutron moderation. Control and delayed neutrons. Reactor types. Environmental and other concerns. Fuel cycle. Nuclear fusion. Fusion reactors. Fundamental particles, Leptons and Baryons, Quarks.

Materials Properties and Phase Diagrams

Lecturers: Professor P. Stamenov

Duration: Hilary Term, 12 lectures

Description: Mechanical properties of materials: Stress, strain, elastic and plastic deformation. The concepts of dislocations and strengthening mechanisms. Failure: fracture, fatigue and creep. Phase diagrams: The aim of this course is to introduce Liquid-Solid equilibria and to understand how a phase diagram is constructed and what information can be extracted from it. A direct application will be the study of the Fe-C system. Binary phase diagram, two phase equilibria (solubility / solid solution, lever rule), three phase equilibria (formation of compounds, eutectic), ternary phase diagram, application to the Fe-C system. Applications and examples are tuned mostly towards metals, semiconductors and ceramic materials. Methods for studying other structural and physical properties are also discussed briefly, with examples of x-ray and electron scattering, electronic and heat transport amongst others.

Wave and Optics II

Lecturers: Professor D. McCloskey

Duration: Hilary Term, 12 lectures

Description: Maxwell equations in differential form. Coulomb's and Gauss' Laws; Biot-Savart and Ampere's Laws; absence of magnetic monopoles; Faraday’s Law and magnetic induction. Electric dipoles, dielectric polarisation and dielectric susceptibility; magnetic dipoles, magnetisation and diamagnetic susceptibility; continuity equation, displacement current and Maxwell’s generalisation of Ampere’s Law. Electromagnetic waves in vacuum and isotropic matter. Energy density in time-varying electromagnetic fields and Poynting vector. Reflection, refraction, plane, circular and elliptic polarisation of light; dichroism, birefringence; interference, interferometers, coherence, Young’s slits, near and far field diffraction.