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Ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions: The physics of the Quark-Gluon Plasma

Module PH2190

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 SS 2019 (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
SS 2019SS 2018WS 2017/8WS 2013/4

Basic Information

PH2190 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered in summer semester.

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

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

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 40 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2190 is Laura Fabbietti.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This module introduces the physics of the quark-gluon plasma (QGP) and the current research aiming to measure the properties of this new state of hot and dense matter via the collisions of heavy ions at ultrarelativistic energies. The following topics will be discussed throughout the lecture:

  1. Introduction with general motivation and brief historic overview
  2. Discussion of frequently used kinematic variables
  3. From Nucleon–Nucleon to Nucleus–Nucleus Collisions
  4. Thermodynamics of the QGP
  5. Evolution of the QGP
  6. Statistical Hadronization
  7. Accelerators & Experiments
  8. Dileptons and Chiral Symmetry Restoration
  9. Hard Probes and Thermal Photon Radiation
  10. Jets and Jet Quenching
  11. Open Heavy Flavour
  12. Quarkonia

Learning Outcome

After the successful completion of the lecture, the students will be able to:

  • Describe the structures of the QCD phase diagram
  • Understand the thermodynamics that governs the QGP
  • Summarize statistical models for particle production in heavy-ion collision
  • Describe signatures of QGP formation
  • Discriminate QGP signatures from ordinary cold nuclear ma?er effects
  • Discuss key discoveries of heavy-ion experiments
  • Outline the main detector technologies used by heavy-ion experiments
  • Familiarize themselves with the latest research activities in heavy-ion physics
  • Obtain an outlook for future research directions in heavy-ion physics


No preconditions in addition to the requirements for the Master’s program in Physics.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

This module consists of a lecture that is presented in a 90 minutes block once per week. The slides are available online before the lecture and a printed copy is provided during the lecture so students can focus taking notes on important remarks beyond the slide content. Additional explanations and more detailed derivations are presented on the blackboard. Each lecture will cover, on average, one of the above-mentioned topics. After the intial introduction, theoretical concepts are presented before experimental results are discussed and confronted with these concepts. Links to all publications that are discussed in the lecture are provided on the course website and full references are provided within the slides.


PowerPoint presentation, black board and original research articles in peer-reviewed journals.


  • C.-Y. Wong: Introduction to High-Energy Heavy-Ion Collisions, World Scientific, 1994
  • S. Sarkar, H. Saj & B. Sinha: The physics of the quark-gluon plasma, Lecture Notes in Physics 785, Springer, 2010
  • H. Saj: Extreme States of Matter in Strong Interaction Physics, Lecture Notes in Physics 841, Springer, 2012
  • R. Vogt: Ultrarelativistic Heavy-Ion Collisions, Elsevier, 2007
  • L. P. Cserna: Introduction to Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collisions, Wiley, 1994
  • E. Shuryak: The QCD vacuum, hadrons, and superdense matter, World Scientific, 2004
  • J. Rak & M. Tannenbaum: High-pT Physics in the Heavy-Ion Era, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

The achievement of the competencies given in section learning outcome is tested exemplarily at least to the given cognition level using final projects independently prepared by the students. The exam of 30 minutes consists of the presentation of the project’s results and a subsequent discussion.

There will be voluntary graded mid-terms. If better than the grade of the module exam these will be included into the module grade with the given percentage. The offered mid-terms are: a voluntary seminar talk during the semester (50%).

Exam Repetition

The exam may be repeated at the end of the semester.

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