Welcome to Physics 428 Autumn 2020

Applications of Modern Physics in Medicine Synchronous Lectures Tu Th 12:00-1:20 PM https://washington.zoom.us/j/TBA

Prof. Gerald A. Miller miller@uw.edu B484, TA Tyler Banton

Class email phys428a_au20@uw.edu please put this in your address book

Office Hours Monday 11:00-11:50 am, Wed 11:00-11:50 pm. https://washington.zoom.us/j/TBA I will also be available, as requested, for the half hour following the lectures.

Course structure:

The lectures in keynote form will be conducted synchronously. I plan that lectures in pdf format will be put on this web page before the lectures (at the latest by the morning of the lecture). The aim is to do this by the end of the preceding weekend. The pdfs will indicate the relevant reading. Screenshots or recordings of other students during active video (Zoom) participation sessions are strictly forbidden. Any student caught engaging in this behavior will be reported to the Student Conduct Office. From time to time we will do "Physics is Not a Spectator Sport" which means that you will asked to be engaged. It is very important that you participate.


Tools based on the knowledge of modern physics are used in for diagnoses of medical numerous medical diagnostic methods, and also in many treatment plans. The course will cover various aspects of modern physics dealing with propagation of particles - photons, electrons, protons, neutrons, nuclei, through matter, and methods used for generation of these particles. Properties of atoms and nuclei relevant for medical applications will be reviewed as well. The aim is to allow students to understand the physical processes underlying the medical application of modern physics. Explanation of particular physical phenomena will be followed by descriptions of the applications of these phenomena in medicine. This will allow students who previously had a limited exposure to nuclear physics to understand the applications and to think of possibly creating new ones. This course is planned to provide the necessary physics (mostly nuclear physics) information at a level accessible to students that have completed Phys 225, although 226 would be helpful.

Objectives in brief

Key point- Physics knowledge can be applied to do useful work in society, namely to originate and perfect various medical devices. I will know that you know, understand appreciate that point when you write and present a paper showing that you understand one particular application of basic physics in medical technology.

Careers in Medical Physics:

One lecture Oct. 8, will be presented by Medical Physics, Charles D. Bloch and will be devoted to careers in medical physics.

Title: Medical Physics as a Profession

Abstract: Medical physics as a career has evolved from classically trained physicists to clinical professionals with educational requirements specific to the field. Generally clinical medical physicists must have a graduate degree superficially in medical physics, complete a residency in medical physics and ultimately be board certified. In some states, a license is required in order to practice medical physics. While there are some jobs in industry or research, most positions include clinical work and are reserved specifically for “qualified” medical physicists. This lecture will outline the ideal path to becoming a medical physicist as well as provide an overview of medical physics career, with particular emphasis on radiation therapy.


The course textbook (written based on the notes for this course) is M.Strikman, K.Spartalian, M.Cole, Applications of modern physics in Medicine, Princeton Univ. Press, 2015.

The course covers a wide range of topics. It is very important to understand the basic physics especially nuclear physics topics that are involved because since the medical applications originate from these topics.

Other useful reading. At least one of these can be obtained without cost from the web in pdf form.

S.A. Kane, "Introduction to physics in modern medicine" (2009) This is the only book I know which has roughly similar aims. The second part of the book is a good complementary reading for the part of the course dealing with medical imaging though we will treat this subject on a somewhat higher level. It is also too brief on the radiation oncology. Several other books appear to be useful.

A.Webb, Introduction to Biomedical Imaging.(2013) This is a good book on imaging. It provides a rather detailed information on most of the imaging issues I will cover.

J.S.Lilley, "Nuclear physics: principles and applications" (2001).

Most of the nuclear physics aspects of the course are nicely covered in the book n a bit more detailed way than we will do in the course, the medical aspects are also covered but rather briefly.

A. Das, T. Ferbel, ``Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics'' (2004) Nuclear physics aspects of the course - nuclear structure, decays, propagation of particles through matter are covered on a level of the course.

B.T.Kevles, "Naked to the bone". (1998) A very interesting account of the history of a number of modern applications of physics in imaging.

P.Suetens, "Fundamentals of Medical Imaging" (2009). Up to date review of the current methods of medical imaging - it is an advanced course. It may be of use for those of you who like more rigorous treatments.

S.C. Bushong, Magnetic Resonance Imaging(2002). This is more or less 200 level book on the subject, written in a lively style.

S.C. Bushong, Radiological science for technologists: Physics Biology and Protection. (2001) Another more or less 200 level book of the same author, also written in a lively style.


There will be 7 or 8 homework assignments to be posted on this web page. Homework must be handed in on time. These HW sets will be graded. Passing the course requires that all of the assignment to be attempted. There will be a research paper and a related class presentation. Information about the research paper will be posted at a later date. The homework will count for 50% of the grade, the research paper will count for 35 % and the presentation 15 %. My current plan is that the median GPA of this course will not be less than 3.5. This number could go up or down, depending on the performance of the students.

Academic Integrity

The University takes academic integrity very seriously. I've been strongly encouraged to include a statement. Behaving with integrity is part of our responsibility to our shared learning community. You are allowed to collaborate with other students in doing the homework and also in discussing your research project. There are rules for the research paper: copying material from a web site or from a previously written paper will be considered to be plagiarism and will result in failing the course.


Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW's policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy


Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (https://registrar.washington.edu/students/religious-accommodations-request/).

Course outline. The current plan is below. Chapter numbers refer to readings in the the textbook by Strikman et al. Revisions are likely to be made as we get further into the quarter.

Introduction, general structure of the course. 1.1,

Elementary constituents: photons, electrons, positrons, protons, neutrons. Electronic shell structure of atoms. Visualizing interactions 3.2,3.3

Elementary Interactions of particles - strong and electromagnetic interactions. Interaction cross section and differential cross sections. 4.2

Particle Interaction with Matter: Bethe-Bloch formula for energy loss, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, pair production. 4.3,4.4

Overview of the application of physics in treatment and diagnostics.6.1,7.1

X-rays : Generation methods: X-ray tubes, radioactive sources, electron accelerators 3.2,3.7, 6.3

Applications of X-rays in diagnostics: X-ray detectors, computer tomography(CT) - Images, angiography. 6.3

Radiobiology - how radiation interacts with biosystems. Dose, dose rate, exposure. 5

Radiation oncology: Classical treatments. 8.2

Structure of atomic nuclei, three types of radioactive decays, radionuclides. Production of radioactive sources used in medical applications. 3.6 is

Uses of isotopes in medicine. Positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computer tomography, radionuclides in diagnostics and study of brain activity. PET-CT multimodality. Compton camera. Oncological applications.4.3,6.4,8.2

Nuclear reactions and Hadrotherapy. Propagation of protons, neutrons and nuclei through matter. Proton and ion accelerators. Comparison of the physiological action of radioactivity for different incident sources.8.3

Behavior of the spin of atoms and nuclei in strong magnetic fields. Magnetic resonance imaging. 7.2