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The Flight of a Relativistic Charge in Matter

Insights, Calculations and Practical Applications of Classical Electromagnetism

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Provides validity of results checked against data taken from particle experiments at CERN
  • Gives transparent derivation of results
  • Presents methods that can be applied to different materials and conditions

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Physics (LNP, volume 1014)

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Table of contents (9 chapters)

  1. Building on Simple Ideas

  2. Calculations in Classical Electromagnetism

  3. Two Practical Applications


About this book

This book is about the energy loss and the coherent radiation emitted by a relativistic charge in matter. These phenomena – locally deposited energy, Cherenkov radiation and transition radiation – are the basis of any charged particle detector able to discriminate charges by their velocity. This book describes these phenomena and how they are related. The fundamental field equations and first principles are used to derive the spectrum of energy-loss signals and thence the velocity resolution that can be achieved. Two specific applications are then followed: the first shows that this resolution has been achieved in practice with a multi-particle detector in the course of an experiment at CERN, and the second shows how, by including scattering, the technique of ionisation cooling of accelerator beams may be reliably simulated. The book is based on a series of lectures given at the University of Oxford to graduate students in experimental particle physics. Some knowledge of mathematical physics at an undergraduate level is assumed, specifically Maxwell’s equations and classical optics.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Department of Physics and Keble College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

    Wade Allison

About the author

Wade Allison is Professor Emeritus in the Physics Department and a Fellow of Keble College, at the University of Oxford. He studied physics and mathematics at Cambridge and took his DPhil in experimental particle physics at Oxford in 1967. He was elected a Research Lecturer a Christchurch Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. From 1968 to 1970 he held a post-doctoral post at Argonne National Lab., USA. Returning to Oxford, he broadened his experimental work to electronic detectors and their theoretical basis in Electromagnetism. From 1976 to 2008 he held a University Lecturership in Physics at Oxford with a Tutorial Fellowship at Keble College. In 1995 he was Visiting Professor in Physics at University of Minnesota. He also has a deep interest in medical physics and the biological effects of radiation on which he has published three books: “Fundamental physics for Probing and Imaging” (OUP 2006), “Radiation and Reason” (2009) and “Nuclear isfor Life” (2015). He writes on the popular understanding of energy and the prospect of the end of widespread fossil fuel combustion.

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