Nuclear structure

Study nuclear structure in FRIB's world-class environment

Nuclear structure seeks to understand how protons and neutrons bind to form atomic nuclei. This foundational question lies at the crossroads of a multitude of significant and exciting scientific challenges. The atomic nucleus is a complex system governed by the rules of quantum mechanics. These rules not only allow researchers to investigate intriguing questions about the fundamental nature of nuclear forces, but also to explore unexpected behaviors of protons and neutrons that challenge the limits of our knowledge and propel future research.

Some interesting examples include the clustering of protons and neutrons, the formation of weakly bound nuclei, and the tendency of some nuclei to assume deformed non-spherical shapes. In some cases, the phenomena are universal and seen in other quantum systems, such as the appearance of shell structures or the emergence of nuclear pairing.

Often, scientific discoveries are made by investigating nature at the extremes. In nuclear science, this means probing nuclei that might only exist in exotic environments like neutron stars or cataclysmic supernovae. Studying the limits of nuclear structure physics and stability will provide new insights into fundamental nuclear interactions and emergent phenomena.

Nuclear structure physics research at FRIB

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University is a world-class research, teaching, and educating center, home to what is designed to be the newest and most powerful rare isotope accelerator on Earth.

FRIB will produce many new nuclei states that have been predicted to exist but have yet to be seen, leading to exciting new discoveries that expand the understanding of nuclear structure. It will address key scientific questions like:

  • How does subatomic matter arrange itself and how does it evolve?
  • How are the elements produced in the universe?
  • What combinations of neutrons and protons form bound atomic nuclei?