Remco Zegers

Professor of Physics


Education and training

  • MS, Technical Physics, State University of Groningen, 1995
  • PhD, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, State University of Groningen, 1999


What makes a star explode and eject its material into space to create planets like earth? What is the mass of the neutrino? And what forces govern the properties of nuclei? Although these questions are very diverse, the research group that I lead uses a common tool to investigate all: charge-exchange reactions. In a nuclear reaction, a projectile nucleus collides with a target nucleus. In a charge-exchange reaction, they exchange a proton for a neutron. The strong nuclear force governs these reactions. But the underlying physics tells us about reactions induced by the weak nuclear force. These include electron capture and beta decay, which are important in astrophysical phenomena. We are especially interested in supernovae and processes that create elements in the universe. Another category of processes that we study are those that involve neutrinos. Such processes also have astrophysical applications. In addition, they help us better understand how these strange particles interact with matter.


I was born and stayed in the Netherlands until I finished my PhD in 1999 at the University of Groningen. My master’s degree was in Technical Physics, with a focus on materials science. I switched to experimental nuclear science and performed my thesis work on charge-exchange reactions and giant resonances at the dutch Kernfysisch Versneller Instituut, but it also included analysis of data from an experiment at the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility. After graduation, I went to Japan and worked as a postdoc at the SPring-8 facility (focusing on the photoproduction of kaons) and the Research Center for Nuclear Physics (focusing on nuclear charge-exchange reactions). In 2003, I joined NSCL and founded the charge-exchange research group. We do a wide variety of experiments, and play a leading role in the development of charge-exchange reactions with rare isotope beams, for example, by using the (p,n) and (d,2He) reactions in inverse kinematics. The primary focus is presently on astrophysical applications. Besides this research, I also led the planning for the high rigidity spectrometer for FRIB and currently serve as that project’s scientific spokesperson.

How students can contribute as part of my research team

Students in my research group are active in the preparation, running, and interpretation of experiments performed at FRIB/NSCL or the Research Center for Nuclear Physics in Japan. In addition, we build detector systems for these experiments, such as the low-energy neutron detector array. Although we work closely with theorists and astrophysicists, we do a lot of the calculation ourselves, and students can be strongly engaged with these aspects as well. Therefore, research projects can be adapted to meet the interests of students in the group, and students can gain expertise in a broad range of topics, especially since we also work closely with other group at FRIB and beyond who have developed detector systems that we use in experiments. With the development of tools to study charge-exchange reactions with rare-isotope beams, we are very excited to study these reactions far from stability at FRIB.

Scientific publications