Subatomic physics group

The Standard Model of particle physics only accounts for a small part of the matter in the Universe, while the nature of Dark Matter is still unknown. Particles beyond the Standard Model could only be detected if they interact with “normal” matter, like atomic nuclei and electrons. Effective Fields Theory techniques are used to study these interactions, in particular how they are affected by the structure of nuclei. Similar techniques are also used to study how elementary particles interact to form nucleons and atomic nuclei.

More generally, state of the art theoretical and numerical models are developed to study dynamics of complex interacting systems. One focus is on quantum many-body modelling of nuclear reactions and many-electron systems exposed to external laser fields.

Nuclear collisions are so fast (a few zeptoseconds) and nuclei so small (a few femtometers) that they are entirely isolated from their environment during the time of the reaction. As a result, they obey the fundamental rules of quantum physics and exhibit some of its most striking manifestations, such as entanglement of the collision partners after a transfer reaction, or the tunneling of many nucleons in fusion. Our basic tool to investigate nuclear dynamics is the time-dependent Hartree-Fock (TDHF) fully self-consistent mean-field theory, as well as its beyond mean-field extensions. We use this approach to predict the outcome of reactions that are studied at the ANU Heavy-Ion Accelerator Facility, such as transfer, fusion and fission. One focus is on the development of beyond TDHF approaches of quantum tunnelling to simulate low-energy fusion reactions as they happen in stars.

The group is contributing to the search for the origin of Dark Matter within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics.