Available student project - Nuclear isomers for energy storage and fundamental physics

Research fields

  • Physics of the Nucleus
Partial level scheme for Mo-93 which was recently found to exhibit an exotic mode of depopulating its low-lying isomer state [CJ Chiara et al., Nature 554 216 (2018)].

Project details

A typical project will be based on experiments using the 14UD particle accelerator to artificially create the nuclei we wish to study. Observation of emitted gamma rays can enable the construction of new excitation level schemes never before seen, followed by interpretation of the new structures relevant to energy storage applications and in terms of fundamental nuclear models. Please contact us to discuss the broad range of research programs that are ongoing. Scholarship funds may be available for an Honours student to undertake research related to nuclear energy storage capabilities.

The Nuclear Structure research group in the Department of Nuclear Physics has a strong program involving experiments performed locally and at international facilities across the world. Our local research is conducted at ANU’s Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility using ion beams delivered by the 14UD particle accelerator. The CAESAR array of HPGe detectors is optimised for high-resolution gamma-ray spectroscopy of long-lived, metastable states (“isomers”) in atomic nuclei.

The primary tool for investigating the structure of exotic nuclei is time-correlated gamma-coincidence spectroscopy, where cascades of gamma rays that de-excite highly excited states are resolved and identified with high-resolution gamma-ray detectors. Typically, these are high-purity germanium (HPGe) detectors surrounded by Compton-suppression shields that are used to ensure that only full-energy events are collected for each detected gamma ray.

Harnessing the energy held in nuclear isomers may lead to revolutionary development of energy storage capacity and future power generation. However, this requires precise knowledge of the complex decay mechanisms that are available. This project enables study of the internal nuclear structure of the prime candidates for this potential ultra-high-energy source, and may provide the roadmap by which this capability is made accessible.

There are several local research programs that investigate fundamental nuclear structure properties of different regions of the nuclear chart, and probe aspects of nuclear behaviour. For example, the shell-model structure of nuclei near 208Pb and the transition from spherical to collective behaviour, and the nature of the K quantum number and related high-K isomers in well-deformed nuclei.

Required background

No specific background knowledge is required. This project will suit students who like to solve puzzles and are comfortable with computer-based data analysis.

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • 3rd year special project
  • PhB (2nd or 3rd year)
  • Honours project
  • Vacation scholar

Contact supervisor

Mitchell, AJ profile

Other supervisor(s)

Lane, Gregory profile

Stuchbery, Andrew profile
Head of Department

Kibedi, Tibor profile
Senior Fellow

Updated:  1 August 2019/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster