Binding Blocks

Online Nuclear Physics Masterclasses

Join leading experts from around the world to explore cutting-edge research in nuclear physics. Explore topics from radiation, to fusion and medical physics.

  • A four-week programme with 3-5 hours content per week. An extra four weeks at the end of course allows time to catch-up on anything you may have missed. Work at your own pace, in the classroom or at home.

  • Live webinars with leading experts take place weekly: 5pm-6pm on Wednesday 23 November, 30 November, 7 December and 14 December. Recordings of these will be available after the events.

  • Ask questions of experts live during the weekly webinar and get help throughout the course on an online forum.

  • Complete all activities to receive a Certificate of Participation, awarded by the University of York.

  • 21 November 2022 - 13 January 2023.

  • For teachers wishing to register a class, please email physics-bindingblocks@york.ac.uk

Registration for Winter 2022/23 now open!

GCSE Masterclass

This programme is suitable for students aged 14-16 studying Physics (GCSE, National 5 or equivalent).

Week 1: Building Blocks of the Universe

In week 1, we investigate the scale of the Universe - from galaxies down to the smallest particles. We zoom in on the atom and find out about the experiments that have revealed both atomic and nuclear structure - from historic experiments through to current particle accelerators.

Week 2: Radiation

In our second week, we explore radiation. We investigate how and why nuclei decay and the different types of radiation released. We discover the potential hazards of radiation and how these can be managed to safely use radiation in a range of applications. We delve into some of the maths of radioactive decay and have a go at modelling it in an edible experiment using sweets!

Week 3: Fission and Fusion

In week 3, we look at how nuclear physics can be used for power generation. We analyse the UK's use of energy resources before finding out more about the use of fission in nuclear power stations. We then explore the cutting-edge research into fusion energy - making mini-Suns here on Earth - and tour some of the world-class research facilities that may make clean energy for the future a possibility.

Week 4: Medical Physics

In our final week, we explore the applications of nuclear physics in medicine. We discover how radiation is used for taking images of different parts of the body, and for treating diseases such as cancer. We find out what the role of a medical physicist involves and investigate the effectiveness of different treatments using an online simulation.

Sixth-Form Masterclass

This programme is suitable for students aged 16-19 studying Physics (AS or A-levels, Highers or Advanced Highers, or equivalent).

Week 1: Energy and Decay

In our first week, we explore the Nuclear Chart, showing all of the isotopes discovered so far. Refresh your understanding of the different decay types, follow nuclear decay chains, explore the concept and applications of binding energy, and investigate half-lives. This first module will give you all of the building blocks you need to explore Nuclear Physics in more detail.

Week 2: Experimental Nuclear Physics

From historic experiments that revealed the structure of the atom, to cutting edge detectors and particle accelerators, in this module you'll explore how discoveries in Nuclear Physics have been made, and get a glimpse of some of the exciting cutting-edge research that's currently being undertaken around the world. Take part in virtual tours of National Laboratories, find out about underground research facilities, and investigate detector science through online simulations.

Weeks 3 and 4: Optional Modules

In weeks 3 and 4, choose any two modules to complete the course. Interested in all of these topics? Feel free to do all four!

Nuclear Astrophysics

In our first optional module, we investigate the life cycle of stars - from fusion taking place in main sequence stars, to the nuclear reactions happening during stellar explosions. Discover the origins of the elements and find out about the roles of different isotopes in these processes. Investigate a model of the nucleus using an interactive simulation, and use this to explore the size and density of neutron stars.

Fusion Technology

In this module we bring nuclear fusion, the process that powers the stars, down to Earth. Find out about this potential method of power generation that could solve the energy crisis. From tokamaks to laser-driven fusion, discover the interface between nuclear and plasma physics and explore the devices being used to create temperatures more than ten times hotter than the centre of the Sun.

Medical Physics

In this module, we explore Nuclear Medicine - from imaging techniques to treatment of diseases such as cancer. Discover what medical physicists do; find out how PET scanners work, and how quantum entanglement can make these more effective; and use computer modeling to investigate proton-beam therapy and optimise treatment.

Particle Physics meets Nuclear Physics

This is an opportunity to delve inside the nucleus. Protons and neutrons are both examples of hadrons - particles composed of quarks that therefore feel the strong force. In this module, discover some of the more exotic quark combinations and newly discovered particles that may give us the answer to questions such as 'What is dark matter?'.