Heavy nuclei can fission due to the large Coulomb repulsion between their protons. The theoretical description of this process is not only important for applications to energy production, it is also a crucial test to our understanding of quantum many-body dynamics.
The fission process can be decomposed in two steps: (i) a slow evolution towards elongated shapes and (ii) a rapid dissociation in two fragments. We recently showed that (ii) has an important impact on the final properties of the fragment (mass, charge, kinetic energy...) by investigating the time dependent evolution of the fission process (see figure).
Our basic tool is the time-dependent Hartree-Fock (TDHF) theory which describes the time-dependent motion of each nucleon wave-function. In this approach, it is assumed that each particle (nucleon) moves freely in a mean-field generated by all the other nucleons.
The project is to perform realistic simulations of nuclear fission with an existing 3-dimensional TDHF code. The calculations are performed on the NCI supercomputers. The main goal is to understand the role of quantum shell effects (the so-called "magic" numbers) and other dynamical effects (deformation, vibration, viscosity...) on the formation of the fission fragments.