Nuclear theory

Theoretical nuclear science seeks to understand and predict the structure, dynamics, and origins of visible matter in the universe. Questions at the forefront of theoretical nuclear science include: 

  • How are quarks and gluons confined within protons and neutrons?
  • How do protons and neutrons bind to form nuclei and what are the limits of stability?
  • How can we accurately predict complex nuclear reactions?
  • Why does emergent collective behavior appear in quantum many body systems?
  • How and where were the chemical elements formed in the universe? 
  • What are the phases of nuclear matter under extreme conditions?  

FRIB’s nuclear theory group has more than 60 members who investigate many different research areas. In addition to collaborating with experimental colleagues at FRIB, they perform research on topics such as:

  • quantum chromodynamics,
  • fundamental symmetries,
  • physics beyond the Standard Model,
  • nuclear forces,
  • chiral symmetry,
  • nuclear structure,
  • nuclear reactions,
  • nucleosynthesis,
  • nuclear astrophysics,
  • neutron stars,
  • heavy ion collisions,
  • strongly-interacting matter under extreme conditions, and
  • emergent phenomena such as superfluidity and collective behavior. 

FRIB’s nuclear theory group also investigates new technologies and algorithms in high-performance computing, machine learning, and quantum computing, and their impact on the challenging problems of nuclear science. Many former students and postdoctoral researchers have gone on to become prominent scientists at universities and laboratories in nuclear science as well as leaders in many other fields of science, technology, finance, education, and industry.

FRIB Theory Alliance

The FRIB Theory Alliance (FRIB-TA) is a coalition of scientists from universities and national laboratories. FRIB-TA seeks to:

  • foster advancements in theory related to diverse areas of FRIB science;
  • optimize the coupling between theory and experiment; and
  • stimulate the field by creating permanent theory positions across the country, attracting young talent through the national FRIB Theory Fellow Program, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, and shepherding international initiatives.