Learning outcomes of the course unit
The module of Biophysics is part of the Integrated Course
Physiopathological Optics. The module has been
designed to convey knowledge and understanding of basic physics
principles, providing an introductory basis for other disciplines that rely on the physical phenomenology on
make frequent use of it.
The course will also provide the conceptual basis for understanding a
number of major technologies that are used with increasing frequency. In
this sense, the module also aims to develop the students' attitude
towards independent study and continuing education on the application
of physical techniques to several fields.
As its final, but perhaps most important, goal, the course has been
designed to stimulate students to become more familiar with certain
common concepts, that are not always sufficiently explained in previous
studies, such as: light and its manifestations, also in relation to the
structure of the eye and its physical defects, fundamentals of electrical,
magnetic and nuclear phenomena, the laws that govern potential and
current, electromagnetic and nuclear radiation, perturbations induced in
means passed through and aspects of detection and control.
Course contents summary
The module of Biophysics will deal with the fundamental
principles of electromagnetism and optics.
Applications and consequences on human body physiology and medicine
will be stressed. In particular, deeper insights will be provided into the
effects of electric currents on the human body, and the use of radiations
in diagnosis and therapy.
Optics: Reflection and refraction - Total reflection and optical fiber -
Optical system, focus and dioptric power - Spherical diopter - Thin lenses,
mirrors and image construction - Compound microscope - Resolution
strength - The eye as a dioptric system - Principal ametropies of the eye
and their correction using lenses - Wave theory of light - Laser light.
Electricity, magnetism and electrical current: Electrical charges and
Coulomb’s law - Electrical field - Work of the electrical field and
electrostatic potential - Dipolar field - Overview of muscle fiber and
electrocardiogram - Gauss’s theorem and its applications - Current intensity - Overview of the
electronic structure of insulators, metallic conductors and
semiconductors - Ohm’s law - Series and parallel resistors – Electromotive
force - Thermal effect of current - Electrical conduction in liquids - Passing
of current in the human body -Thermoionic and photoelectric effects -
Magnetic field and its action on current and magnets - Electromagnetic induction -
Self-induction – Alternating voltage and current - Impedance -
Radiation: Structure of the atom and nucleus - Quantum numbers,
electronic orbitals and transitions - Unstable isotopes and alpha, beta,
gamma radiation - Law of radioactive decay and half-life - Radiation
detection - Biomedical applications of radioisotopes - X-rays (production,
properties and absorption mechanisms in the matter) - Radiological
image - Overview of computerised axial tomography (CAT) and
radiofrequency (NMR) imaging techniques- Overview of radiation safety.
Bersani, Bettati, Biagi, Capozzi, Feroci, Lepore, Mita, Ortalli, Roberti,
Viglino, Vitturi: Elementi di Fisica, Ed. Piccin Nuova Libraria (Padova).
Scannicchio: Fisica Biomedica, Ed. EdiSES (Napoli).
Celasco: Lineamenti di Fisica Medica, Ed. E.C.I.G. (Genova).
During classroom lectures, the topics contained in the program of the
module will be illustrated and commented. Emphasis will be posed on the
applications to biology and medicine of basic physics principles, with
examples of how such principles can lead to quantitative predictions on
physiological and pathological phenomena.
In selected cases, the demontration of basic physics principles will be
illustrated, with the aim to introduce the students to the practice of
logical thinking and experimental approach.
Assessment methods and criteria
The achievement of the objectives of the modules Physics and Biophysics will be assessed through a written exam, mainly
consisting in open questions on the topics of the course. This will allow to
ascertain the knowledge and the understanding of both the theoretical
bases and their practical consequences.
The written exam will possibly include the resolution of problems, to assess the
achievement of the ability to apply the acquired knowledge to a
simulated, though realistic situation.
All parts of the written exam will be equally weighted in the final