The US Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science points out that “it is remarkable that a heavy nucleus consisting of hundreds of rapidly moving protons and neutrons can exhibit regular behavior, reflecting collective properties of many nucleons operating together” and goes on to ask “How does subatomic matter organize itself and what phenomena emerge?”. We are attempting to answer this question with a new program of Coulomb Excitation experiments that are able to directly measure nuclear collectivity and the nuclear shape.
Coulomb excitation describes the process where a beam of heavy ions scatters from nuclei in a target and the electromagnetic interaction between the beam and target nuclei results in one or both of the nuclei being excited and subsequently emitting one or more gamma rays. The probability of nuclear excitation can be related to the nuclear shape. This project will involve the design and development of new detectors for measuring the scattered nuclei and integration of these particle detectors into the CAESAR array of gamma-ray detectors. A program of experiments looking at vibrational behavior in both spherical and deformed nuclei is expected to be the initial priority, since there is considerable current controversy in the scientific community as to whether such vibrations exist. The results of this research may potentially overturn what has been commonly accepted over decades as evidence for nuclear vibrations.
This work is done in collaboration with international collaborators and complementary measurements at international facilities are expected.
No specific background knowledge is required. The project is suited to honours and PhD students who are interested in developing new equipment, performing computer-based data analysis and participating in theoretical explorations of nuclear structure.