Clustering and the search for exotic nuclear molecules
In many light nuclei a number of energetics effects lead to the emergence of clustering phenomena, where the nucleus can be modelled as a collection of subgroups of nucleons. The interaction of these clusters, rather than the individual nucleons, predicts the nuclear properties. While alpha-clustering in light N=Z nuclei is well established, it is only in recent years that clustering studies have been able to extend to neutron rich or mid-mass nuclei; as a result a number of interesting phenomena have been discovered, such as the role that valence neutrons play in binding cluster cores together in a way strongly analogous to the role of electrons in atomic molecules. These nuclear molecular structures can be of surprising complexity, but it is not yet clear how far they may persist into the mid-mass region. This work investigates the cluster structure of 28Mg using the novel technique of a thick target in inverse kinematics, in order to look for evidence of what would be some of the most complex nuclear molecular structures observed to date.