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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 2022/3 (current)

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

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
WS 2022/3WS 2021/2WS 2020/1WS 2019/20WS 2018/9WS 2017/8WS 2016/7WS 2015/6WS 2010/1

Basic Information

PH2053 is a semester module in English 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 Winfried Petry.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


  • Introduction
  • Main principles of neutron generation
  • Properties of the free neutron
  • Elastic scattering from ordered and disordered systems
  • Small angle scattering
  • Reflectometry
  • Neutron instrumentation

Learning Outcome

After participation in the module the student is able to:

  • explain details of neutron generation
  • 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
  • know the basic principles of neutron diffraction data from powder and single crystals
  • understand diffraction data from non-crystalline materials
  • modell the small-angle-scattering data
  • explain the basic principles of neutron reflectrometry


  • 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.


  • under COVID-19 resctrictions via multimedia otherwise normal lecture with presence of students
  • lecture notes
  • 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. A. Furrer: Frontiers in Neutron Scattering, World Scientific, London (1999).
  4. J. M. Carpenter, C.-K. Loong, Elements of Slow-Neutron Scattering, Cambridge University Press, (2015)
  5. B.T.M Wills, C.J. Carlile, Experimental Neutron Scattering, Oxford University Press (2009).

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

There will be an oral exam of 30 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 sample calculations.

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?
  • Definition of structure factor and Debye-Waller factor
  • Physical meaning of Bragg peaks on powder diffraction pattern
  • What is the measurement principle of SANS. What are the typical application fields for SANS?
  • How to characterise surfaces and interfaces? Explain the term “grazing incidence”.

Participation in the exercise classes 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.

Current exam dates

Currently TUMonline lists the following exam dates. In addition to the general information above please refer to the current information given during the course.

Exam to Physics with Neutrons 1
Mon, 2023-02-06 Dummy-Termin. Wenden Sie sich zur individuellen Terminvereinbarung an die/den Prüfer(in). Anmeldung für Prüfungstermin vor Sa, 25.03.2023. // Dummy date. Contact examiner for individual appointment. Registration for exam date before Sat, 2023-03-25. till 2023-01-15 (cancelation of registration till 2023-02-05)
Thu, 2023-03-09 Dummy-Termin. Wenden Sie sich zur individuellen Terminvereinbarung an die/den Prüfer(in). Anmeldung für Prüfungstermin vor Sa, 22.04.2023. // Dummy date. Contact examiner for individual appointment. Registration for exam date before Sat, 2023-04-22. till 2023-03-08
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