Nuclear structure

The study of nuclei is a core component of modern science, helping to connect the very small (quantum mechanics) with the unimaginably vast (stars, galaxies and the cosmos). Thanks to a host of productive collaborations between theorists and experimentalists, the last few years have accelerated our understanding of the nucleus.

However, there remains much mystery, too.

Consider that it's been more than a half century since the discovery of the proton and neutron, the building-block particles that comprise nuclei. However, researchers still can't predict exactly how these particles interact with each other to form all the matter that we see around us.

Throughout science, researchers advance their understanding of core principles by studying extremes in nature. In nuclear science, this means probing nuclei that generally exist only in environments such as hyper-dense neutron stars or cataclysmic supernova.

FRIB will make it possible to access many of these key nuclei, in the process addressing a host of overarching scientific questions, such as:

  • How does subatomic matter organize itself and how does it evolve?

  • Where do nuclei and elements come from?

  • What combinations of neutrons and protons can form a bound atomic nucleus?

Source: 2015 Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science