Course Title: Photonics and Nuclear Physics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Photonics and Nuclear Physics

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2006,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 2 2010,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 2 2014,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 2 2016

Course Coordinator: Assoc. Prof. Brant Gibson

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3649

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Prerequisites: Second-year university level courses in optics and radiation physics.

Assumed knoweldge: Expertise in first year mathematics; successful completion of second-year level mathematics is desirable.

Course Description

This course is part of the final-year core theory component of courses leading to a Physics qualification in the School of Applied Sciences. It covers theory and applications in the areas of:

  •  Photonics: advanced topics in the behaviour of light, the study of interactions between photons and atomic matter, and the use of these phenomena in modern devices and instrumentation –
  • Nuclear physics: the quantum description of nuclear properties and behaviour, nuclear models (liquid drop, Fermi gas, shell and collective models), radioactive (statistical) decay, the different modes of decay including electromagnetic transitions, and elements of particle physics. Applications of nuclear physics are also discussed and when possible one or more guest lectures from industry partners will help contextualise the content.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

The primary capabilities developed by this course are:

  • Knowledge capability: knowledge of fundamental physics of photonics and nuclear physics is developed to a high level.
  • Critical analysis and problem solving: students use conceptual models in conjunction with established theory to analyse problems and particular situations in photonics and nuclear physics. They analyse data and performance of devices using relevant mathematical and numerical tools.

A secondary capability is:

  • Technical capability: with its emphasis on devices and applications, the course prepares students to be able to use sophisticated instrumentation intelligently, with a good understanding of its capabilities and limitations.

 On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • describe and explain the principles involved in the interactions between light and matter, including the effects of anisotropy and non-linearity;
  • comprehend the modification and control of optical properties of materials by externally imposed electric, magnetic and acoustic fields;
  • recall and recount the optical properties of semiconductor light sources and detectors;
  • expand the theory and applications of the confinement of light in waveguides and fibres;
  • apply the above principles in calculations and design issues relating to present-day devices in areas such as opto-electronics, fibre optics, and optical signal processing;
  • undertake complex calculations involving processes in radioactive decay;
  • describe and explain nuclear properties in terms of the behaviour and interaction of subnuclear components;
  • describe nuclear structure and associated phenomena with use of various models, and appreciate the applicability and limitations of each;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the particles (such as quarks) that comprise nucleons and are involved in exchange forces etc and use this knowledge to explain various properties of nucleons and their behaviour.

This course contributes to the following Program Learning Outcomes at AQF Level 7:

  • PLO-2 Scientific knowledge
    • PLO-2.1 You willl have broad knowledge in your chosen discipline, with deep knowledge in its core concepts.
  • PLO-3 Inquiry and Problem Solving
    • PLO-3.1 You will be able to choose appropriate tools and methods to solve scientific problems within your area of specialization.
    • PLO-3.2 You will demonstrate well-developed problem solving skills, applying your knowledge and using your ability to think analytically and creatively.
  • PLO-4 Communication
    • PLO-4.1 You will be able to communicate the solution to a problem or the results of a scientific investigation using effective oral, written and presentation skills.
  • PLO-5 Personal and professional responsibility
    • PLO-5.1 You will develop a capacity for independent and self-directed work.

Overview of Learning Activities

Students will learn in this course by:  

  • attendance at lectures where material will be presented and explained, and the subject will be illustrated with demonstrations and examples;
  • private study, working through the theory as presented in lectures, texts and notes, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems;
  • completing tutorial questions designed to give further practice in application of theory, and to give feedback on student progress and understanding;
  • completing written and online assignments consisting of numerical and other problems requiring an integrated understanding of the subject matter.

Overview of Learning Resources

Text and reference books for the course are available through the RMIT Bookshop. The online Blackboard system is used extensively for lecture notes, assignments and other resources.

Overview of Assessment

There will be ongoing assessment during semester to encourage students to engage with the material and to give feedback on progress. This is done with several short assignments, including both conceptual and numerical problems. Some of this may be done with web-based assessment. Problems will include some exercises which require integration of concepts across different topics in the course. The emphasis is on testing development of critical analysis and problem solving capabilities.

A final examination will allow assessment of students’ overall achievement in the course. This will test mainly conceptual understanding of the material, (knowledge capability) with some shorter numerical and mathematical exercises.