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Neutrinos and Societal Applications

Module PH2305

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.

Basic Information

PH2305 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered once.

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 60 h 5 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH2305 is Thierry Lasserre.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


The development of technologies over the past 20 years creates unique opportunities to use neutrinos in new ways to advance our knowledge of the sources that produce them, namely: the stars, the earth, the nuclear reactors. Furthermore, man-made neutrinos produced at accelerators could allow for a new way to communicate in the shortest manner. Neutrino applications are difficult to quantify and predict in the short term, and the purpose of this lecture is to review and discuss ideas that are now or could later be considerably useful to society.

The first three lectures would be an introduction to particle and Neutrino Physics, to allow students at the master level and beyond to acquire the necessary basics in neutrino physics to understand the current and envisaged applications.

The next three lectures would develop the possibility to infer the Earth Heat and geochemical mantle composition, using the so-called geo-neutrinos, low-energy electron antineutrinos that are emitted by the radioactive decays within our planet. Geo-neutrinos allow geophysicists and geochemists to learn about the composition of our planet without drilling kilometers below the surface. They provide a unique opportunity to probe the chemical composition of the Earth mantle and core.

Then, three lectures would be dedicated to the question of non-proliferation of fissile materials. Indeed, the automatic and non-intrusive monitoring of a nuclear reactor by its electron antineutrino signal is of great value to the International Agency for Atomic Energy (IAEA) responsible for the control of nuclear power plants. I will discuss the underlying physics leading to the monitoring of the thermal power and plutonium content, as well as the different efforts that occurred worldwide (including at TUM with the NUCLEUS experiment).

Two lectures will then focus on more futuristic applications concerning neutrinos produced by particle accelerators and their potential use for fast and long-range communications.  Actually, neutrinos could easily pass through 1,000 light-years of lead, so crossing the earth would not be a problem. I will discuss how transmission of information using a beam of neutrinos can be achieved and could ultimately be used in situations where other means of communication are not feasible.

New applications of scientific discoveries in particle physics could come after a lag of decades. To conclude this program, I will review, during two lectures, the open questions in neutrino physics. Solving these questions may lead to new and original application’s ideas in the future. 

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the module, the students are able to get knowledge concerning the potential applications of the emerging and rapidly progressing field of neutrino physics.  

- understand the fundamentals of neutrino physics and astrophysics

- understand the links between neutrinos and geosciences

- understand the links between neutrinos and nuclear reactors

- understand the links between neutrinos and non-proliferation


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

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 Neutrinos and Societal Applications Lasserre, T. Thu, 14:00–16:00, PH 2271
Thu, 14:00–16:00, PH 2271
UE 2 Exercise to Neutrinos and Societal Applications Schlüter, L.
Responsible/Coordination: Lasserre, T.
dates in groups

Learning and Teaching Methods

The modules covers the full winter term, with two hours of frontal lecture and two hours of exercises and group teaching per week, leading to 13 lectures and the same amount of exercises and tutorials from November 2020 to February 2021. Exams will be held subsequently in March.


- blackboard work

- worksheets and exercise collection

- PowerPoint presentations


1) Neutrino Physics

Fundamentals of Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics

Carlo Giunti and Chung W. Kim

2) Reactor-Neutrinos

Reactor Neutrinos (short review)

Th. Lasserre & H. Sobel

Comptes Rendus Physique

Volume 6, Issue 7, September 2005, Pages 749-757

3) Geo-neutrinos

Comprehensive geoneutrino analysis with Borexino

M. Agostini et al. (Borexino Collaboration)

Phys. Rev. D 101 012009 (2020)

4) Neutrino and Non-Proliferation

Online Monitoring of the Osiris Reactor with the Nucifer Neutrino Detector

G. Boireau et al.

Phys.Rev.D 93 (2016) 11, 112006

5) Neutrinos and Rogue Reactor Detection

A Futuristic Neutrino Probe for Undeclared Nuclear Fission Reactors

Th. Lasserre et al.

6) Communication with Neutrinos

Demonstration of Communication using Neutrinos

D. Stancil et al.

Mod. Phys. Lett. A 27 (2012) 1250077

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 sample calculations.

For example an assignment in the exam might be:

  • - How neutrinos could help geoscience in understanding the Earth structure
  • - How neutrinos could help the field of non-proliferation
  • - How many neutrinos are produced by a nuclear power station operating at 4 GW
  • - What is the source of the geo-neutrinos? How are they produced? Can we detect them, if yes, how?

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

Exam Repetition

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

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