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

This tour shows a range of equipment and facilities available in one of our modern, dedicated laboratories.

The interactive version allows you to walk through the lab and get a 360° view of the facilities.

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Introduction

Our professional technicians have set out seven experiments demonstrating the range of equipment available in the Atomic and Nuclear lab.

Germanium detectors

The aim of this 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

Rutherford scattering

This practical explores the seminal work of Rutherford in determining the structure of the atom. It recreates his 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

X-ray diffraction

An experiment which demonstrates the use of x-ray radiation for the determination of crystal structure. This practical demonstrates concepts of solid state physics, as well as introducing X-ray safety procedures and computer control of equipment via Labview interfaces.

Experiment 3: X-ray diffraction

Determining the lifetime of muons

This practical experiment measures 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. The experiment shows how to investigate phenomena with imperfect sampling of underlying statistical distributions.

Experiment 4: Determining the lifetime of muons

Material processing with plasmas

This practical experiment demonstrates the use of plasmas for modifying the surface properties of solids. It utilises 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

An investigation of the properties of 60Ni

This practical experiment uses gamma ray coincidence counting and angular correlations measurement to determine the properties of excited nuclear states. It uses NaI scintillation detectors and apply a range of common nuclear physics approaches.

Experiment 6: An investigation of the properties of 60Ni

Gyroscopic stabilisation

A sample of projects: these experiments both explore aspects of gyroscopic stabilisation. One looks 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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