Understanding the structure of atomic nuclei is important in understanding how those nuclei are produced. As nearly 70% of nuclei heavier than iron and all of the actinides were produced by the so-called r-process in what is presumed to be very violent environments capable of producing extremely exotic nuclei, it is important to understand not just the stable nuclei in nature, but the very exotic ones produced in extreme stellar events. Current rare isotope beam facilities are making progress towards producing some of these nuclei. The current aim of this project is to understand the most fundamental property of very exotic atomic nuclei - their mass. By understanding nuclear masses and mass trends, it is possible to understand how nuclei in exotic environments interact with others and how nuclear abundance changes in these environments.

Nuclear masses approaching the r-process path will be measured with the Time of Flight (TOF) technique. In this technique, the flight time for a mixed beam of nuclei will be measured between two points in a fragment separator. Comparing the flight times of unknown nuclei to those of known nuclei will help determine the masses of the unknown nuclei. Several experiments are planned and approved at the Radioactive Ion Beam Factory at The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research and at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. In addition to gaining a better understanding of one of the most fundamental questions in science, this experiment will work to provide a future for science and scientists in the United States. Scientists will be trained at all levels, including the Ph.D. and undergraduate level as well as at the high-school and elementary level. Direct training of Ph.D. students will occur in multiple high-profile experiments. Further, multiple auxiliary outreach activities to undergraduate and high-school students will be done in order to excite and inform students about science.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Physics (PHY)
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Bogdan Mihaila
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