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Home>Physics>Physics tours>Atomic and nuclear lab tour

This tour of one or our modern, dedicated laboratories shows a typical range of lab equipment and facilities that you'll use on your Physics course.

You can also access an interactive version of the tour. Please note that the interactive tour is not suitable for use with assistive technologies.

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Our lab technicians have set out some typical first and second year experiments.

Experiment 1: Characterisation of germanium detectors

The aim of this third-year experiment is to explore the operation and characterise the performance of a state-of-the-art gamma ray detector - a so-called broad-energy (BEGe) germanium detector. Once calibrated the detector will be applied to the study of natural radioactive minerals.

Experiment 1: Characterisation of germanium detectors

Experiment 2: Rutherford scattering

This core second-year practical explores the seminal work of Rutherford in determining the structure of the atom. You will recreate the classic experiment of scattering alpha particles from a gold foil before expanding the theory of Rutherford scattering to different materials and varying sample thicknesses.

Experiment 2: Rutherford scattering

Experiment 3: X-ray diffraction

A second-year experiment which demonstrates the use of x-ray radiation for the determination of crystal structure. This practical will reinforce concepts from the Solid State Physics lecture course, as well as training you in X-ray safety procedures and computer control of equipment via Labview interfaces.

Experiment 3: X-ray diffraction

Experiment 4: Determining the lifetime of muons

This third-year practical allows you to measure the lifetime of muons undergoing decay to more stable electrons, positrons and neutrinos. The speed of the muons mean will need to take into account relativistic time dilation effects. You will also learn how to investigate phenomena with imperfect sampling of underlying statistical distributions.

Experiment 4: Determining the lifetime of muons

Experiment 5: Material processing with plasmas

This third-year practical demonstrates the use of plasmas for modifying the surface properties of solids. You will utilise an atmospheric-pressure He/O2 plasma jet to modify the 'wettability' of materials; an important property in industrial processing applications.

Experiment 5: Material processing with plasmas

Experiment 6: An investigation of the properties of 60Ni

This third-year practical will introduce you to the idea of gamma ray coincidence counting and angular correlations measurement to determine the properties of excited nuclear states. You will learn to use NaI scintillation detectors and apply a range of common nuclear physics approaches.

Experiment 6: An investigation of the properties of 60Ni

Experiment 7: BSc and MPhys project work

A sample of our final year BSc and MPhys projects. These experiments both explore aspects of gyroscopic stabilisation. In one case students look at the alignment of satellites in orbit, for example, to orient solar panels to maximise power generation. The other looks at stabilisation of boats in rough seas, for example in lifesaving applications.

Experiment 7: BSc and MPhys project work

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