Skip to main content

High Energy Physics


muon detector

The Nuclear Physics laboratory offers level 3 students the opportunity of working with instrumentation commonly found in the nuclear industry and also in environmental monitoring of radioisotopes in the environment. Many of the projects involve an investigation into the spectroscopy of radiation emitted by radioisotopes and students may study sealed radioactive sources, kept within the laboratory, or perhaps radioisotopes generated through neutron capture by stable nuclei.


In some projects the students are encouraged to develop apparatus for imaging radioactive emission or energy loss. The projects have some specific goals but also allow for further investigation and it is often the case that students push their experiments in new and interesting directions. For example, two students decided to use x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to investigate the composition of meteorites (both real and fake).



Current projects for the Nuclear Physics Laboratory can be found on DUO. A list of typical projects are given below. Note that we regularly update our projects, so those available in a particular term may not exactly correspond to this list.


Safety is a particular concern in this section due to the use of radioactive sources. Be sure to follow these guidelines and requirements to the letter. Note that some of the regulations are statutory in UK law. Failure to follow these rules may have serious consequences.


Please use this generic safety information in conjunction with additional information given here.


Physics department and University regulations

Procedures to be adopted when using radioactive sources:

  • All radioactive sources should be treated with respect. Most are kept in the locked lead-lined boxes in room 205 and may be removed from there only by a Laboratory Demonstrator or Technician. When a source is 'out' this is indicated by displaying the red side of its indicator card in the source folder that is kept beside the locked source boxes. The appropriate source card should also be dated and signed. Sources must be returned to the radioactive store when they are not being used, with the source being checked ‘in’ by a demonstrator or technician and the indicator card turned back to its green side.
  • When a source is mounted in apparatus, the apparatus must be labelled "Danger- Radioactivity". The source’s container should be displayed close to the apparatus so that everyone can identify the source and its strength. You may also wish to use appropriately marked sellotape to indicate the presence of a source; this is available from the level 3 laboratory technician.
  • Students to whom a 'source' is given are responsible for the safekeeping of that source and should not pass it on to another student 'just to try'.
  • The radioactive sources, no matter how weak, must NEVER be picked up without using the tweezers or tongs specially designated for use with radioactive sources. The tweezers/tongs themselves may become contaminated with radioactivity and therefore must be treated with respect and handled carefully. Apparatus which has contained a source, must not be sent or taken for workshop modification without the approval of the laboratory leader and it being checked for contamination. After handing sources with tweezers/tongs, and possibly in addition with thin gloves available from the laboratory technician, always wash the hands.

Official, statutory regulations

Other sources of information

Useful Links

Basic Nuclear Physics