Colorado School of Mines Physics Assistant Professor Kyle Leach has been awarded $180,000 as part of an effort to answer fundamental questions about the structure of nuclei and the interactions that are basic to the structure of matter.
The research project, “High-Sensitivity Nuclear Structure Measurements of Rare Isotopes and Few-Electron Systems,” is funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Physics. It focuses on answering questions posed by the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee and highlighted in the 2015 Long-Range Plan for Nuclear Science.
“Our overarching goal is to search for answers to two of the fundamental questions posed to the community by NSAC: How does subatomic matter organize itself and what phenomena emerge, and are the fundamental interactions that are basic to the structure of matter fully understood?” said Leach, the principal investigator, in his proposal.
To investigate these questions, the project will:
- Use trapped bare (and few-electron) radioactive ions to probe the nature of electroweak decay modes under extreme conditions for both nuclear structure and astrophysics,
- Provide experimental nuclear structure guidance using light-ion transfer reactions to nuclear theory in systems relevant for testing the Standard Model, such as superallowed Fermi beta decay and neutrinoless double beta decay, and
- Develop the decay station setup at the Department of Energy’s new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at Michigan State University, specifically toward a next-generation gamma-ray spectrometer.
Most of the work planned has only recently become possible because of new developments in sensitive observation of radioactive decay in electron-beam ion traps. The project includes novel and unique experiments with the TITAN ion-trap facility at TRIUMF-ISAC—Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics—that are currently not possible anywhere else in the world. Leach and his group will also perform experiments at the Maier-Leibnitz Laboratory in Germany.
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