Introduction to nuclear physics and measurements

Prof. Nicolas Pauly – Université Libre de Bruxelles


85,5 hours study time

24 contact hours theory

9 contact hours exercises/laboratory sessions/visits

0 hours additional personal work (reading etc.)

Learning Outcomes

  • To learn and understand the basic properties of a nucleus
  • To understand the role of conservation laws in decay processes and reactions
  • To learn the principles of neutron physics related to nuclear fission reactions
  • To describe interaction of radiation with matter
  • To describe characteristics of main particle detectors


  • Nuclear physics (10h)
    • Nuclear properties (nuclear radius; mass and abundance of nuclides; nuclear binding energy; nuclear exited states)
    • Elementary introduction to nuclear models (drop & shell)
    • Radioactive decay: radioactive decay law, radioactive mother-daughter chains, natural radioactive chains,  types of radioactive decay, units of radioactivity
    • Alpha, Beta and Gamma decay
    • Types of nuclear reactions: compound nucleus, threshold reactions, concept of cross section
  • Interactions of particles with matter (4h)
  • Nuclear detectors (8h)
  • Accelerators (2h)

Course material and reference books

The PowerPoint presentations of the lectures, and extensive lecture notes, are available on the BNEN website.

Other useful references:

  • Krane, K.S. “Introductory Nuclear Physics”, John Wiley, 1987.
  • Tavernier, S. “Experimental techniques in nuclear and particle physics”, Springer-Verlag, 2010.
  • Knoll, G.F. “Radiation detection and measurement”, 4 ed., Wiley, 2010.

Pre-assumed knowledge or prerequisites

Bachelor level lectures on physics, mechanics, mathematics.

Grading and examination

First and second session: written examination (closed book)
Lab sessions are compulsory and count for 20% of the global mark (report + attendance). Lab
sessions cannot be repeated in the second session