29209 - Modern Physics M

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

The main objective of the course consists of providing students with the basic knowledge of Modern Physics. At the end of the course, students will know the general principles of Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Nuclear Physics. Through the historical contextualization of the great discoveries that revolutionized the conception of space and time in the twentieth century, students will be able to recognize how modern technological applications are based on Modern Physics.

Course contents

The course is divided into two modules:

  • Module 1: Special Theory of Relativity (prof. Angelo Carbone, 32 hours)

  • Module 2: Quantum Physics and nuclear and subnuclear physics (prof. Fabio Ferrari, 28 hours)

Each part is presented giving to the students theoretical, experimental and historical elements. For each part, some teaching hours will be dedicated to exercises.

Module 1: special Theory of Relativity (32 hours)

Michelson-Morley experiment. Postulates of special relativity. Time dilation and length contraction. The Lorentz transformation. Property of the Lorentz transformation. The causality in relativity. Velocity and acceleration transformation in relativity. The relativistic momentum, energy, and mass. The Lorentz invariance. The momentum-energy vector.

Module 2: quantum physics and nuclear and subnuclear physics (28 hours)

Introduction to wave physics. Interference and Young experiment. D'Alambert equation.

The black body radiation and the photoelectric effect. Wave-particle duality. Compton effect. De Broglie wavelength. The Schödinger equation and its quantisation. The Schödinger equation with a potential, one-dimensional study of different walls and barriers of potentials. The tunnel effect.

The Bohr model of the atom, the hydrogen atom, and its spectrum. The quantum number describing electrons. The Stern-Gerlach experiment. Nuclear fusion and fission. Some elements of elementary particle physics.


Teachers' note.

Teaching methods

The lecture will be held on the blackboard and are supplemented by video projection and slides. The slides will be distributed in advance.

Assessment methods

The assessment will be a written (1h 30m) and oral exam. In the case of success, the student has to finalise the assessment with an oral exam, in the same day or in one of successive exam sessions, with questions on various topics, with at least one question in Special Theory of Relativity and one in Quantum Physics.  

Teaching tools

Lecture's notes and exercises with solutions.

Office hours

See the website of Angelo Carbone

See the website of Fabio Ferrari