Physics Colloquium: Structure of neutron-rich nuclei, stellar nucleosynthesis, and medical applications

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The science of stellar nucleosynthesis aims at understanding how the elements in the universe are formed in stars. On a microscopic scale, the formation of elements is dictated by the properties of atomic nuclei and their interactions. Our current understanding of nucleosynthesis largely relies on experimental data of short-lived nuclear resonances or the properties of extremely exotic nuclei with a large excess of protons or neutrons. In this talk I will focus on two most recent examples. The first topic addresses the fundamental question if and how harmonic-oscillator shell closures change when adding neutrons to stable nuclei. I will discuss the underlying physics and will report on our recent experiments at the radioactive ion beam facility ISOLDE at CERN using the high-granularity MINIBALL array. I also will report on my planned research at TRIUMF which includes the development of a new large-scale silicon tracker detector for the study of most exotic nuclei at the future ARIEL facility. The second topic is related to the termination of the r-process path through nuclear fission when reaching heavy nuclei beyond 208Pb. I will talk about our recent and future experiments at the RIKEN Nishina Center (Japan) which aim to determine fission barrier heights in exotic nuclei, for the first time. Our development of state-of-the-art silicon detectors has applications for improving cancer treatment using charged ions, which I will briefly discuss during this talk.


Coffee and Refreshments will be available in SSC 1511.