PHY6040    Particle Detectors Graduate Course    Dr. Chris Booth

 (based on PHY411 "Aspects of Modern Physics" undergraduate option)

The following information is available for this course:
    General description   Recommended books   Syllabus & Notes

General Description

Course Aims: To provide an introduction to the physics behind particle detectors, the utilisation of that physics in practical instruments and the applications of detectors in experimental apparatus.

Objectives: On successful completion of this course, you should:

Handouts: Handouts are provided for each section of the course, consisting of copies of transparencies, with diagrams and other information.  Detailed notes are provided for the more mathematical sections of the material.

Problems: Problems are set on each topic, to be handed in the following week.

Recommended Books:

K. Kleinknecht - Detectors for Particle Radiation, C.U.P.  1998
W.R. Leo - Techniques for Nuclear and Particle Physics Experiments, Springer-Verlag  1994
R. Fernow - Introduction to Experimental Particle Physics, C.U.P.  1986
G.F. Knoll - Radiation Detection and Measurement, Wiley  2010
D. Green - The Physics of Particle Detectors, C.U.P.  2000
R.K. Bock & A. Vasilescu - The Particle Detector BriefBook, Springer 1998  (see below)
 Other resources:
Web version of The Particle Detector BriefBook


Detectors for Nuclear and Particle Physics - Syllabus

(8 Lectures)

Click on the link to see notes and supplementary material for that unit on the screen. Please note that these notes are neither a copy of nor a replacement for the material presented in the lectures, both through printed handouts and other forms of delivery!

  1. Aims of Particle Detectors
    Determination of position, energy and momentum.  Identification of particle type (determination of mass).
    Overview of a large experiment in particle physics.
  2. Interaction of charged particles with matter
    (Main emphasis on relativistic, "heavy" particles)
    Impulse approximation.  Limits on the impact parameter.  Energy loss by excitation and ionisation.  Bethe-Bloch formula.  The density effect.
    Mean energy loss as a function of velocity; Range of slow particles.  Fluctuations in energy loss - Landau and Vavilov theories (brief).
  3. Detectors relying on ionisation and excitation
    Scintillation counters and photomultipliers.  Time-of-flight.
    Gaseous detectorsIonisation chambersproportional countersdrift chambers.  [Streamer chambersspark chambers and flash tubes.]
    Momentum measurements in a magnetic field.
    Semiconductor detectors - hodoscopes, microstrips and CCDs.

    Bubble chambers.
  4. Coherent effects for charged particles
    Cherenkov radiation and Cherenkov detectors.  Threshold and ring-imaging detectors.
    Transition radiation detectors
  5. Interactions of electrons and photons with matter
    Photo-electric effect
    Compton scattering

    e+e pair production
  6. Electromagnetic calorimetry
    Electromagnetic showers and energy measurement.
  7. Hadronic calorimetry
    Hadronic showers.  Fluctuations and resolution.  Compensation.
    Combined electromagnetic & hadronic calorimeters.

If you have any queries about this course, please e-mail me at

Back to PHY6040 Page