Skip to content Skip to navigation

NE 102

Course Title: 
Nuclear Reactions and Radiation Laboratory
Course Units: 
Catalog Description: 
  • Laboratory course in nuclear physics. Experiments will allow students to directly observe phenomena discussed in Nuclear Engineering 101. These experiments will give students exposure to (1) electronics, (2) alpha, beta, gamma radiation detectors, (3) radioactive sources, and (4) experimental methods relevant for all aspects of nuclear science. Experiments include: Rutherford scattering, x-ray fluorescence, muon lifetime, gamma-gamma angular correlations, Mossbauer effect, and radon measurements.
Course Prerequisite: 
  • NE 101 Nuclear Reactions and Radiation
Course Objectives: 

It is the instructor's intention to...

  • introduce students to various types of detectors used to measure alpha, beta, gamma and x-ray radiations, and the electronic systems used to count and measure such radiations
  • introduce students to the concept of experimental  uncertainty, the statistics of radiation counting, error propagation, and the analysis of experimental results.
  • teach students how to make laboratory measurements of alpha and gamma-ray energy spectra, nuclear half-lives, gamma-gamma angular correlations, x-ray fluorescence spectra,  and record and report laboratory results.
Course Outcomes: 
  • Explain the characteristics and uses of silicon, germanium, sodium-iodide, liquid, and plastic scintillation detectors  
  • Explain the functions and uses of standard nuclear electronic modules: shaping amplifiers, single-channel analyzers, time-to-amplitude converters, and analog to digital converters    
  • Perform nuclear counting and spectroscopy experiments, record the results, analyze the data, and write a report describing the experiment, data, analysis, and conclusion
  • Calculate the uncertainties in nuclear counting experiments and utilize the uncertainties in the analysis of experimental results
  • Give an oral presentation describing the results of your experiment      
  • Use radiation detection systems to:
    • determine the lifetime of the muon    
    • measure alpha and gamma-ray energy spectra and determine radioactive half-lives
    • perform qualitative elemental analysis by x-ray fluorescence
    • measure the energy width of a nuclear excited using the Mossbauer effect
    • carry out laboratory research in groups of two to four students;  analyze the data and determine results through a combination of individual study and exchange of ideas with classmates
Topics Covered: 
  • Alpha, beta, gamma decay
  • How scintillation detectors work
  • How semiconductor detectors work
  • Basics of analog nuclear electronics
  • Data analysis and error propagation
  • Applications
Class/Laboratory Schedule: 
  • One 50-minute lecture and one 50-minute student presentation session per week; four hours of laboratory per week
Assessment of Student Progress Toward Course Objectives: 
  • Laboratory write-ups: 50%
  • Performance in lab: 25%
  • Class presentation: 25%