de | en

Physics with Neutrons 1 (Fundamentals)

Module PH2053

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of WS 2018/9 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

available module versions
WS 2018/9WS 2017/8WS 2016/7WS 2015/6WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH2053 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Specific catalogue of special courses for condensed matter physics
  • Specific catalogue of special courses for Applied and Engineering Physics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Complementary catalogue of special courses for Biophysics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
150 h 60 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2053 is Peter Müller-Buschbaum.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


  • Introduction
  • Neutron sources
  • Properties of the free neutron
  • Elastic scattering from ordered systems
  • Small angle scattering
  • Reflectometry

Learning Outcome

After participation in the module the student is able to:

  • apply the kinematic theory of elastic neutron scattering
  • understand the use of various instruments for neutron scattering
  • judge the use of various scattering methods for the determination of the structure of various materials
  • analyse x-ray and neutron scattering diffraction data from powder and single crystals
  • understand diffraction data from non-crystalline materials


  • Bachelor degree in physics

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

The learning outcomes of the module will be achieved via frontal lecture, written and verbal lecturing and powerpoint presentations.

The lecture will be complemented by a weekly exercise class, where students will solve problems under supervision of a tutor.


  • lecture with PowerPoint presentation
  • exercises
  • books
  • internet


  1. G. L. Squires: Introduction to the Theory of Thermal Neutron Scattering, Dover Publications, N. Y. (1966).
  2. A. Furrer, J. Mesot, T. Strässle: Neutron Scattering in Condensed Matter Physics, World Scientific, London (2009) .
  3. S. W. Lovesey, Theory of Neutron Scattering from Condensed Matter I, II, Oxford Science Publ., Oxford (1984).
  4. A. Furrer: Frontiers in Neutron Scattering, World Scientific, London (1999).
  5. G. E. Bacon: Neutron Diffraction, Oxford (1962).
  6. P. A. Egelstaff: Thermal Neutron Scattering, Acad. Press, London (1965).

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 25 minutes duration. Therein the achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using comprehension questions and example calulations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • Give the equation which defines the wavelength of matter. Discuss the dependencies Write down the fission reaction.
  • Why do fission neutrons have to be moderated? What means moderation?
  • Describe the energy transfer in elastic central collision.
  • List typical moderators. Argue about the difference of D2O and H2O as moderator. What are the diffusion length in both moderators?
  • Discuss the differences/complementarity of reactor neutron sources and spallation neutron sources.
  • Note the different cross sections for thermal neutrons. What is the unit for a cross section?
  • What is the relation between sigma_coh and scattering length b?
  • Give the definition of the double differential cross section for thermal neutrons.
  • Define the scattering vector.
  • Note the Laue condition in diffraction. What does it mean?
  • Note the Bragg equation. What does it describe?

Participation in the tutorials is strongly recommended since the exercises prepare for the problems of the exam and rehearse the specific competencies.

Remarks on associated module exams

The exam for this module can be taken together with the exam to the associated follow-up module PH2054: Physics with Neutrons 2 / Physik mit Neutronen 2 after the follwoing semester. In this case you need to register for both exams in the following semester.

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester. There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

Top of page