de | en

Physics of Exotic Nuclei

Module PH2203

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 2014/5

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

available module versions
SS 2015WS 2014/5

Basic Information

PH2203 is a semester module in English or German language at Master’s level which is offered irregular.

This module description is valid to WS 2014/5.

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

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
300 h 100 h 10 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2203 in the version of WS 2014/5 was Stephan Paul.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


In recent years it has become possible to perform experiments with accelerated unstable (sometimes very exotic) particle beams. This resulted in broad new knowledge about nuclei, nuclear astrophysics and has led to numerous new applications in e.g. solid state physics and medicine. Also new tests of the Standard Model are now accessible. All this will be discussed in this lecture (4 hours / week). 

Exotic nuclei play an important role in the nucleosynthesis, ie the science of the origin of the elements in our universe. For example, heavy elements are formed via the so-called r-process, in which nuclei accumulate more and more neutrons, becoming very neutron-rich.  About half of the heavy elements on Earth were originally formed via this process which e.g. happens in Suprnovae. The properties of the exotic nuclei involved can now be studied experimentally for the first time, such as using the "ISOLDE" facility at CERN  ( In Darmstadt an international accelerator facility for antiproton and ion research (FAIR) is currently being built (total cost of 1.6 billion euros), which will allow new possibilities for experiments with very exotic ion beams. Our department is strongly involved in the development of new experiments for this major project ( At present, we are stepping up research on the RIKEN Nishina Center in Tokyo (, where we try to get new insight into the termination of the r-process at high masses. Exotic nuclei are also an ideal "laboratory" to develop new quantum mechanical many body models, and to understand hadronic matter under extreme conditions, like eg expected in neutron stars.

Unstable particle beams also provide new approaches to test the Standard Model of particle physics. As an example,  the V_ (ud) CKM matrix element can be determined by measuring the mass of exotic nuclei very precisely. 

The possibility of producing unstable particle has led to a variety of new applications. One example are applications in solid state physics (Mössbauer spectroscopy, Hall effect, Photoluminizenz spectroscopy and more). For medicine, novel opportunities to produce special isotopes (as tracer etc.) are now given. These isotopes have better chemical and radioactive properties compared to standard isotopes. All these topics will be examined in detail in the lecture. 

This lecture will give an overview of this broad, but still young field of research. It is based on the foundations of the KTA-Intro  lecture. No other special skills are needed. We will develop a certain theoretical framework, which is intended to deepen some aspects of the KTA lecture. These theoretical foundations have wide application in other fields of physics and chemistry. These foundations allow us  to discuss the new experiments (CERN, GSI Darmstadt, RIKEN) and applications in solid state physics and medicine. 

In the Tutorial, we mainly would like to teach you some basic knowledge of programming and simulations. This will be helpful in case you later want to work in any field of nuclear or particle physics. 

The students are invited for an excursion to CERN, which should happen from 15 to 17 December 2014. We visit the 50-year jubilee of the ISOLDE facility. You can participate at a related international workshop. Of course, there also will be a tour throguh CERN and ISOLDE.  

This course can either be held in German or English. 

Some topics of the course include: 


- Nucleosynthesis: the origin of the elements in the universe; 


- many body systems with angular momentum;  shell model and tensor interactions; Collective phenomena 


- Symmetries in nuclei and molecules; analytical models 


- Change of the "magic" numbers in nuclei  and its influence on the abundance of the elements 


- The "island of inversion" 


- Production of exotic particle beams at large scale facilities 


- detector systems: silicon / HPGe / scintillators / Avalanche photodiodes etc. 


- Current experiments at CERN / GSI / RIKEN for the study of exotic nuclei 


- New tests of the Standard Model and measurements for the CKM matrix 


- Applications in medicine: production of new radioisotopes, etc. 


- New applications and perspectives for solid state physics 

Learning Outcome

update soon


nothing beyond KTA Intro, Bachelor level

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Learning and Teaching Methods

Vorlesungs-Mitschrift, Folien


im Wesentlichen Tafelvortrag, ergänzt durch Folien zu den experimentellen Aufbauten etc.


wird in der Vorlesung bekannt gegeben

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

In a written exam the learning outcome is tested using comprehension questions and sample problems.

In accordance with §12 (8) APSO the exam can be done as an oral exam. In this case the time duration is 45 minutes.

Exam Repetition

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

Top of page