58200 - Applied Physics

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has a preparation that allows him to know the general principles of physics, with reference to the main implications in the biomedical field. In particular it is able to: apply the laws of statics to the joints of the human body, including the jaw; apply the general laws of mechanics and those of fluids to the hydrodynamic blood circuit; to know and apply the basic concepts of electricity and magnetism to the main biological phenomena; know the operating principles and the limits of the main instruments used in the biomedical field;

Course contents

Introduction to Physics (Measurement, uncertainty, law gauges)

Operational definition of physical quantity and its dimensions. Systems of Units of measurement, fundamental constants, dimensional equations. Scalars, vectors, elements of vector algebra. Measurement methods and hints of error theory. Infinitesimal and finite quantities.


Kinematics of the material point: uniform motion, uniformly accelerated motion, harmonic motion, uniform circular motion, relative motions.
The three principles of dynamics; inertial and non-inertial systems. Momentum conservation principle;
Force field and its description; various types of forces: gravitational forces, electric forces, magnetic forces, elastic forces.
Biomedical applications of motion equation.
Work and energy concepts: job calculation; fields of conservative forces: potential energy, kinetic energy, conservation of mechanical energy and total energy.
Angular moment and moment of forces.
Law of universal gravitation and motion of the planets.
Main equations of statics; the levers. Elastic and viscous forces.
Static and dynamic balance.

Fluid mechanics

Fluid properties: density, pressure etc.
Fluid statics: laws of Archimedes, Pascal, Stevino. Torricelli's experience.
Fluid dynamics: continuity equation. Flow rate of a duct. Torricelli's theorem
Classification of fluid motion.
Bernoulli's theorem: consequences and applications.
Real fluids, viscosity, Poiseuille's law; viscous resistance.
Laminar and turbulent flow of viscous fluids.
Hydrodynamic circuits: vessel resistance, measurement of the pressure and velocity of a fluid in a duct.
Hints of hemodynamics
Surface tension: Laplace equation, pulmonary alveoli and surfactants and concept of gas embolism, capillarity.


Concepts of thermodynamic state and thermodynamic system, work in thermodynamics, first principle of Thermodynamics and internal energy. Thermodynamic transformations, state changes and phase transitions.
Specific heats and latent heats. Outline of the kinetic theory of gases;
Constant pressure transformations: Entalpy.
The second law of thermodynamics: the concept of Entropy and its statistical significance.
Thermodynamic potentials.
Osmotic work and osmotic equilibria; Temodynamics and Biology with definitions of: enthalpy function, free energy function; applications to metabolism.


Main laws of geometrical optics: reflection, refraction, dispersion.
Lenses and mirrors and conjugate points formula.
Optical instruments and microscopes: compound optical microscope, phase contrast microscope, electron microscope.
Physical optics: interference, diffraction, wave nature of light and electronic optics.


Electrostatics: Coulomb's law, Gauss's theorem for the electric field.
Electric potential energy, electric potential, electrical work.
Properties of the electrostatic field: charge distributions and their potential energy.
The conductors; induction; the condenser. Dielectrics: dipole, concept of polarization, field generated by a polarized dielectric.
Loads in motion: concepts of intensity and current density.
Elementary electric circuits and Ohm's laws.
Circuits with single-mesh resistors and capacitors: energy balance.
Thermal effect of the current (Joule effect). Bioelectric potentials.
The magnetic field: properties of the magnetic field, magnetic force and Lorentz force.
Flow of the magnetic field and electromagnetic induction.
Applications of the law of induction (transformer and alternator). Maxwell equations and electromagnetic waves.
Electromagnetic Spectrum: properties and classification of electromagnetic waves.

The Radiation e.m. and the discovery of X-rays

Electromagnetic radiation.
The spectrum of electromagnetic waves. Ionizing radiation.
The corpuscular model. Wave – particle dualism.
Atomic models, quantization, uncertainty principle.
LASER principle.
The discovery of X-rays. Bremsstrahlung.
The X-ray spectrum: continuous spectrum and Bremsstrahlung,
characteristic X-ray striped spectrum.
Natural and artificial radioactivity.

Interaction of Radiation with Matter

Interaction of X-rays and gamma with matter.
Intensity, Fluence, impact section and linear attenuation coefficient.
Classical diffusion (Rayleigh Scattering).
Photoelectric effect.
Compton effect.

Elements of radiological technology

The RX tube, cathode structure, filament, focusing cup, anode structure, fixed and rotating anode.
Beam quality (SEV).
Extrinsic parameters: kVp, anodic current (mA), mAs, filtration and their influence.
Radiological image formation.

Hints of modern physics

Notes on relativity; introduction to the concepts of quantum physics: the black body; concept of photon; photoelectric effect; Compton effect; discrete spectra and energy levels (Bohr atom)
Wave-corpuscle dualism, De Broglie equation; wave function and its probabilistic interpretation, Heisenberg principle.
Structure and properties of the atomic nucleus
Radioactivity, radioactive decay; mention of radioisotopes and medicine
X-rays: nature, generation and interaction with matter, medical applications (radiology).
Introduction to techniques: NMR, TAC, LASER, PET


0) Summary of Mathematical Analysis for university students: Complex numbers (numerical and exponential form), Derivation and its meaning, Functions and Functions Graph, Indefinite and definite Riemann integration and integral theorems.

1) Lecture notes of the teacher at the site: http://amscampus.cib.unibo.it/

2) Giancoli – Fisica con fisica moderna (seconda edizione) – Casa Editrice Ambrosiana

3) Scannicchio – Fisica Biomedica – EDISES

4) Gastone Castellani - Elementi di fisica in medicina e biologia – Bononia University Press

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons.
Power Point slides, educational applets, videos.

Assessment methods

Oral exam including exercises.

Teaching tools

Lecture notes by the lecturer (Power Point slide).

Office hours

See the website of Giuseppe Baldazzi