DOE-SC highlight: New calculations solve an alpha particle physics puzzle

05 April 2024

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) posted a highlight titled “New calculations solve an alpha particle physics puzzle.” The highlight explains a new experimental measure of helium-4’s transition from its ground energy state to an excited state.

In a recent study, theorists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Lanzhou, Grand Accelerateur National d’Ions Lourds in France, and FRIB employed a novel quantum-mechanics computing code to explain the results of a recent precise experiment used to determine how a helium-4 nucleus (an alpha particle) gains energy to become excited in what is known as a “monopole transition.” According to the study’s results, the excited state at energy 20.21 million electron-volts (MeV), which is unstable and decays by emitting a proton, is an intricate combination of binary clusters: hydrogen-3 and a proton, helium-3 and a neutron, and two helium-2 nuclei.

Each year, scientists publish thousands of research findings in the scientific literature. About 200 of these are selected annually by their respective program areas in DOE-SC as publication highlights of special note.

Read the highlight on the DOE-SC website.