Academic Year 2022/2023 - Teacher: Alessia Rita TRICOMI

Expected Learning Outcomes

Our current understanding of the sub-atomic Universe is based on a number of profound theoretical ideas that are embodied in the Standard Model of particle physics. However, the development of the Standard Model would not have been possible without a close interplay between theory and experiment. Starting from the first evidence of the nuclear structure, the course aims to discuss our current understanding of Particle Physics.

Course Structure

The course is based on lectures and exercises.

Should the circumstances require online or blended teaching, appropriate modifications to what is hereby stated may be introduced, in order to achieve the main objectives of the course.

Required Prerequisites

No compulsory preparatory courses are required but an in-depth knowledge of quantum mechanics and field theory is essential.

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance to the course is usually compulsory (consult the Academic Regulations of the Course of Studies)

Detailed Course Content


The Standard Model of particle Physics. Interactions of particle with matters. Experiments at accelerator

Underlying concepts:

Units in particle physics; References to special relativity (Invariant mass, threshold energy, CM and LAB system

Decay rates and cross section

Fermi’s golden rule. Particle decays. Interaction cross sections. Differential cross section

The birth of nucleus concept.

Rutherford experiment and the birth of the atomic nucleus concept. Coulomb interaction and its cross section. The discovery of the proton and neutron. The discovery of the positron and muon. The structure of the hadrons: the scattering of electrons on nuclei and nucleons.

Interaction by particle exchange.

Feynman diagrams and virtual particles. Introduction to QED. Feynman rules for QED.

Electron–positron annihilation. Spin in electron–positron annihilation. Chirality.

Electron–proton elastic scattering 

Probing the structure of the proton. Rutherford and Mott scattering. Form factors. Relativistic electron–proton elastic scattering. The Rosenbluth formula

Deep inelastic scattering 

Electron–proton inelastic scattering. Deep inelastic scattering. Electron–quark scattering. The quark–parton model. Electron–proton scattering at the HERA collider. Parton distribution function measurements

Symmetries and the quark model

Symmetries in quantum mechanics. Flavour symmetry. Combining quarks into hadron. Ground state baryons wavefunctions. Isospin representation of antiquarks. Meson states. SU(3) flavour symmetry

Textbook Information

The use of minutes of the lectures as well as of summary papers provided during the course is strongly suggested 

Reference books:

W. E. Burcham and M. Jobes, Nuclear and Particle Physics, Pearson Education

Mark Thomson, Modern Particle Physics, Cambridge University Press

B.Pohv et al: Particles and Nuclei; Bollati Boringhieri, Torino.

R.N. Cahn e G. Goldhaber The Experimental Foundations of Particle Physics, Cambridge University Press

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Introduction to the Standard Model 2Lecture Notes

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Learning evaluation methods and criteria: the exam will focus on an oral test aimed at verifying the student's critical abilities to deal with the phenomenological and experimental problems of nuclear and particle physics. The ability and clarity of presentation, the ability to frame the required topic in a general context and the ability to use the physical and calculation tools learned will be verified.

Verification of learning can also be carried out electronically, should the conditions require it.

Criteria for awarding the final grade: the final grade will arise from the outcome of the oral exam in which the greatest weight will be given to the critical skills shown by the student.

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

The questions below are not an exhaustive list but are just a few examples

Calculation of the average life of the muon

Estimation of the threshold energy of a reaction

Callan-Gross relation