The Citadel Department of Physics Prof. Yost
Physics 416 Spring, 2010


Physics 416, Advanced Topics in Physics

Introduction to Nuclear Physics

Dr. Yost

Instructor: Dr. S.A. Yost Textbook: Kenneth Krane,
Introductory Nuclear Physics
2ndWiley 1988
Lectures: 208 Grimsley Hall
MWF 08:00 - 08:50
Office: 216 Grimsley Hall Syllabus: PDF Document
Hours: MWF 9:00-10:00, 16:00-17:00,
or by appointment
E-Mail: Phone: 843 - 953 - 5475


This web site provides the information about the course which was included in the syllabus. Updated information and resources may be placed here as well.

Welcome to Physics 416, Advanced Topics in Physics! This course is an introduction to nuclear physics. We will begin with a brief overview of nuclear properties and some historical perspective, then review (or introduce) the quantum mechanics needed to understand nuclear physics at the level of this course. We can then describe nuclear structure models, radioactive decay, and nuclear reactions. The prerequisites for this course are PHYS 222 and 272, and MATH 107 or 132.


  • Historical introduction and terminology
  • Introduction to / review of quantum mechanics:
    wave functions, Schrodinger equation, angular momentum, etc.
  • Nuclear properties: radius, mass, binding energy, angular momentum, etc.
  • Nuclear models: the shell model, etc.
  • Radioactive decay: α, β, γ
  • Nuclear reactions: cross sections, fission, fusion
  • Applications: technology, astrophysics (including student presentations)
Since this is an advanced topics course, the schedule will be flexible, and may be partially determined by student interest.


Grades will be based on four aspects of the course, with approximately equal weight:
  • Midterm exam
  • Final exam
  • Presentation on an application of nuclear physics
  • Homework and participation


The midterm exam will cover material in about the first 5 weeks of the course, which should include (at minimum) chapters 1 - 3 and 5 in Krane. The final exam will focus primarily on the later parts of the course. The mid-term exam will be a take-home exam, while the final will be held in-class, with an open book and any notes. The exams will include homework-style problems (not from the homework, but requiring similar types of analysis).


Each student will select a topic in nuclear physics, in consultation with me, and present it in a written paper as well as in an oral presentation to the class near the end of the semester. The paper should be approximately 10 pages in length, and will be presented in a 20 minute talk before the class, to be followed by a question period. I will schedule meetings with each student before mid-terms to discuss your choice of topic. The topics should be at an appropriate level for this course, and the subject should be some technological or astrophysical application of nuclear physics.

Homework and Participation

A limited amount of homework will be assigned weekly to clarify the reading. It will be due one week after it is assigned. The purpose of the homework, in most cases, is to clarify the reading, and to be sure you have understood it. You should also find it useful to work through derivations in the text, and fill in any gaps, so you are certain of your understanding. This is true in any advanced physics course. You should come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings, and to ask questions about any parts that require further clarification.

Dr. S.A. Yost Dept. of Physics The Citadel