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Second Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[60/60]  PHYSICS [60/00 - Ord. 2012]  PERCORSO COMUNE 6 48


Knowledge and understanding:
A student completing the course will acquire knowledge of the general principles of atmospheric physics, solar radiation, energy sources, radioactive decay and biological effects of radiation. In particular, the student must know the physical quantities used to describe the atmospheric phenomena and solar radiation, and the relationships between these variables. He must be able to understand the principles of operation of the wind generators, photovoltaic systems, solar collectors, hydroelectric power stations, nuclear power stations. He should know the basic principles of radioactive decays and their effects on biological systems, the general principles of dosimetry and detectors.

Applying knowledge and understanding:
The student should be able to apply the knowledge learned through the study of atmosphere and solar radiation. He should have the ability to identify, formulate and solve problems related to the application of energy conversion systems from renewable and non-renewable sources. He should be able to apply the knowledge of the basic principles of radioactivity and radiation-matter interaction to the interpretation of experimental results obtained with dosimetric techniques.

Making judgments:
The student will have the ability to make independent judgments about the models of the atmospheric physics and climatology. He should be able to independently deal with problems related to energy production from renewable and non-renewable sources. He should be able to independently evaluate the effects of the radiation and the problems related to radiation protection.

Communication skills:
The student should acquire the ability to describe the physics of the atmosphere and the solar radiation using an appropriate language. He should be able to communicate problems and solutions related to the use of systems for producing energy from renewable and non-renewable sources, he should be able to describe the phenomenology of radioactive decays and the principles and techniques used in the field of dosimetry.

Learning ability:
Students completing the course will gain knowledge not only about the contents of the programme, but also about the need to always operate a continuous and autonomous study, because of the constant scientific and technological progress. He will be able, therefore, to continue his studies with greater autonomy, awareness and discernment, recognizing that independent learning will characterize his whole professional life.


General knowledge of fundamental physics, in particular kinematics, mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and and electromagnetism.


Applied Physics (to Medicine, Biology, Environment, Cultural Heritage)
1) The atmosphere
Stratification and composition of the atmosphere
Pressure variation with altitude
Temperature variation with altitude
Vapor condensation and cloud formation
Pressure gradient, Coriolis force and wind circulation
Cyclonic and anticyclonic flow
Hadley cell, Ferrel cell and polar cell
2) Wind and wind energy
Intensity and power of the wind
Force of the wind on an aerodynamic profile
Lift, lift coefficient
Wind turbines
Maximum power delivered by an ideal turbine
Betz coefficient
3) Solar irradiation
Solar spectrum
Temperature on the surface of the Sun and emission intensity
Power radiated by the Sun and intercepted by the Earth
Albedo, Equilibrium conditions and calculation of the theoretical average terrestrial temperature
Greenhouse effect
4) Photovoltaic energy
Energy levels of electrons in insulators and semiconductors. Band structure
Electrical conduction in semiconductors
p-type and n-type doped semiconductors
The p-n junction, the photovoltaic cell
Calculation of the power of a photovoltaic system
Basics of semiconductor physics
the diode
photovoltaic cells
Power of a photovoltaic system
5) Radioactivity
The law of radioactive decay
mean lifetime, half-life
Activity of a radioactive source
Alpha, beta and gamma decays
Primordial and cosmogenic natural radioisotopes
Radioactive families
6) The nuclear reactor
The nuclear fission
Nuclear chain reaction
Neutron moderation
Uranium isotopes
Uranium enrichment
Types of nuclear plants
7) Medical physics and archaeometry
X-ray interactions with matter
Cross section, linear attenuation coefficient
X-ray production, X-ray tube spectrum
X-ray imaging
Dosimetric quantities
Dating of organic findings using the C14 technique
Analysis of the chemical composition with the XRF technique

Teaching Methods

Lectures: 32 hours
Exercises: 16 hours
The exercises consist in the solution of simple numerical problems and exercises on the blackboard.

Verification of learning

The verification is done through a final examination, which ensures the acquisition of the expected knowledge and skills through a written test lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes and an oral test.

The written test consists of 30 questions, out of which about two-thirds are multiple choice questions about theory on the whole program, and one third are exercises similar to the exercises solved on the blackboard during the course.
The written test will be awarded with a mark expressed in thirtieths and based on the number of correct answers. The evaluation of the exercises will also take into account the text interpretation capabilities, the ability to identify the correct formulas to be used for the solution, the correctness of the procedure. To access the oral exam, the student must achieve a rating of at least 15/30 in the written test.

The oral test will begin with the presentation of a topic chosen by the student on the course program. The teacher may interrupt the student to ask him to clarify or develop certain issues. Next, the teacher will pose questions to the students throughout the whole program of the course, to evaluate both the knowledge of theoretical parts and the ability to deal with simple numerical problems.

In order to pass the exam, the student should demonstrate comand and operational capacity in relation to the key concepts discussed in the course. A higher score will be awarded to students who demonstrate that they understand all the content of the course, including the ability to solve simple numerical problems that require applications of theoretical parts. Failure to pass the exam will be due to insufficient knowledge of the key concepts, failure to command the technical language or inability to solve the exercises (which are also required during the oral examination).


1) Title: Environmental Physics. Authors: Egbert Boeker, Rienk van Grondelle. Publisher: Wiley
2) Title: Fondamenti di dosimetria delle radiazioni ionizzanti. Author: Fedele Laitano. Publisher: ENEA

More Information

The slides of the lectures are available to students through the Internet.

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