Stars are the element forges of the universe. Understanding the elemental and isotopic abundances in the universe is one of the main goals in nuclear astrophysics. Nuclear reaction probabilities (cross sections) at stellar particle energies are key variables in astrophysical network calculations, trying to model these abundances. Proper tuning of these models depends on the availability of experimentally determined reaction cross sections.
Stellar particle energies can be simulated in accelerator-based irradiation facilities. Accelerator mass spectrometry, an ultrasensitive technique for the determination of isotopic ratios, is the method of choice for measuring cross sections of reactions resulting in long-lived radionuclides. The high energies achievable with the Heavy Ion Accelerator (>200 MeV) at the Australian National University are ideal to tackle the challenging interferences from stable isobars.
Student work in this project will be centered around characterization of AMS reference material using gamma spectrometry and accelerator mass spectrometry and evaluation of existing data.