My research in nuclear structure explores the evolution of structure and the interplay between the role of individual protons and neutrons occupying the nucleus and their contributions to the collective nuclear modes. Though we cannot fully describe the nucleus from first principles, many complex nuclear phenomena can be simply explained using basic physical principles. The nucleus is commonly characterized as a tiny sphere lying at the center of the atom. When we look at the actual macroscopic shape of the nuclear material, we find that the nucleus can take on many different deformations.
Shape Phase Coexistence
We can compare the different shapes (prolate, oblate, spherical, etc.) of the nucleus much like we compare the different phases (solid, liquid, gas) of matter. This research explores the many variables that affect the nuclear shape and the effects of shape on the excited states of the nucleus. This is most effectively done by comparing a region of nuclei and examining changes in the number, excitation energies, and characteristics of excited states as nuclear structure evolves.
Nuclear Angular Momentum’s Role in Deformation
As we study the structure of a single nucleus, we see that its shape and collective modes can vary according to the amount of angular momentum the nucleus has. Most simply, we can tell if the nucleus is vibrating or rotating. By comparing the pattern of de-excitations from excited nuclear states to the simple models we have for nuclear vibrations and rotations, we can determine how the structure of a single nuclide changes as its angular momentum changes.