00405 - 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 Gender equality Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student:

- knows the fundamental concepts of application of the Scientific Method to the study of biomedical phenomena (choice and measurement of parameters, evaluation of errors, statistical analysis, mathematical model);

- is able to describe the physical phenomena of biological systems using the appropriate mathematical tools and quantitatively evaluating the various processes;

- will know the scientific basis of medical procedures and the operating principles of the instruments used in diagnostic and therapeutic practice

Course contents

Introduction to Physics.

Physical size and its dimensions. Systems of units of measurement and fundamental constants, dimensional equations. Vectors and elements of vector algebra.


Kinematics of the meterial point: uniform and uniformly accelerated motion, harmonic motion, uniform circular motion and their combinations in several dimensions. Principles of dynamics. Range of forces and its description: gravitational, electric and magnetic forces, elastic force and friction. Examples and applications in the biomedical field. Definition of work and energy; fields of conservative forces, potential energy, conservation of mechanical energy and total energy. Moments: application to the muscular levers Static: static and dynamic balance.

Fluid mechanics.

Description and properties of fluids; pressure density etc. Balance in fluids, laws of Archimedes, Pascal, Stevino. Torricelli's experience. Equation of continuity. Flow rate of a duct. Torricelli's theorem Bernoulli's theorem, consequences and applications. Real fluids, viscosity, Poiseuille's law; viscous resistance. Motion of viscous fluids in laminar and turbulent conditions. Hydrodynamic circuits: vessel resistance, measurement of the pressure and velocity of a fluid in a duct. Basics of hemodynamics. Surface tension; capillarity, pulmonary alveoli and surfactants, gas embolism.

Wave phenomena

Harmonic oscillator: free, damped, forced oscillations and resonance. Representation of wave motion: propagation, superposition principle. Speed and energy of a wave, stationary waves. Wave phenomena: interference and diffraction. Acoustics: sounds and their characteristics (height, intensity, timbre). Fourier theorem, definition of Decibel; ultrasound and Doppler effect (ultrasound applications)


Definition of state and thermodynamic system. First principle: work, heat 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: Enthalpy. The second law of thermodynamics: Entropy and its statistical significance. Thermodynamic potentials. Osmotic work and osmotic equilibria, mention of Temodynamics and Biology (enthalpy functions, free energy and applications to metabolism)


Main laws of geometric optics: reflection, dispersion refraction. Mirrors and lenses, conjugate points formula. Outline of optical instruments and microscopes. Physical optics: interference, diffraction, wave nature of light and electronic optics.

Electrical and magnetic phenomena.

Electrostatics: Coulomb's law. electrostatic field properties: charge distributions. Potential energy of a charge distribution, Gauss theorem. Potential energy and electric potential, electrical work. Conducting means: induction, capacitor. Dielectric means: dipoles and polarization. Loads in motion: current intensity and density. Simple electrical circuits and Ohm's laws. Circuits with resistors only; circuits with resistors and capacitors. Thermal effect of the current. Bioelectric potentials. The magnetic field: properties of the magnetic field, magnetic force and Lorentz force. Magnetic field flux and electromagnetic induction. Applications of the law of induction (in particular transformer and alternator-electric motor). Outline of Maxwell's equations, electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic Spectrum, its properties and classification of electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation and matter interaction.

Radioactivity and modern physics.

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


ELEMENTI DI FISICA IN MEDICINA E BIOLOGIA G. Castellani - D. RemondiniEd. Bononia University Press 201

Teaching methods

Lectures and exercises carried out in class and provided to students to practice at home

Assessment methods

Final written tests, consisting of exercises, multiple choice questions and open questions. The exam is valid only if the score is >=18. Eventually, students can ask foran oral examination, but only if the reached the sufficiency.

Teaching tools

Frontal lessons


Slides in pdf forma

Office hours

See the website of Gastone Castellani