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Nuclear Shells and Shapes

Internship in experimental nuclear physics

One of the main goals of modern nuclear physics is to produce, observe and characterize unstable exotic nuclei in their ground and excited states. The basic knowledge about the nucleus was mainly derived from studies of nuclei near stability even though these nuclei represent a minority of the nuclei that “exist” and can be studied. The strong nuclear forces that governs most of the properties of the finite many-body quantum system, the nucleus, ranging from its existence lifetime, its radioactive decay, how it is excited to the shapes it takes. For a given element (with fixed number of protons) many different isotopes (nuclei with different number of neutrons) can exist very far from the valley of stability. In these “exotic” nuclei, the proton to neutron ratio is very different from stable nuclei. These are interesting nuclei to study as they allow to amplify aspects of the nuclear force that are otherwise camouflaged close to stability. These nuclei have revealed among other the existence of nuclear halos, the disappearance of the classical magic numbers (shell closures), the appearance of the new ones or the sudden evolution of the nuclear shapes. Therefore, to be able to aid the advances of modern nuclear structure theory, we focus on the search for new fingerprints of the nuclear force in various states in these yet unexplored exotic nuclei.

Our group studies the excited states of these exotic nuclei. The nuclei of interest are produced in the nuclear reaction involving nucleon(s) transfer or fission induced by the intense heavy beams on suitable targets at GANIL. Each of these rare species to be studied are detected and fully identified by a large acceptance spectrometer VAMOS++. The properties of the excited state are then investigated by analysing the gamma rays detected in coincidence by the EXOGAM or/and AGATA arrays. These state-of-the-art detection system combined with intense heavy beams gives unique and unprecedented opportunities to address open questions associated with the structure of nuclei at the limits of existence.

The proposed M2 project is associated with the analysis of an experiment which has already been performed at GANIL where neutron-rich nuclei where produced in fission. The large acceptance spectrometer VAMOS was used to uniquely identify the reaction products while the coincident gamma rays emitted were detected by the AGATA detector. The candidate will also be involved in ongoing experiments at GANIL involving the VAMOS++ spectrometer and the gamma tracking detector AGATA. This project will give an opportunity to gain knowledge in various detection techniques and data analysis methods used in nuclear physics.

Expected skills:

- Interest in experimental physics, knowledge of nuclear instrumentation
- Good proficiency in programming (C/C++)

- Good proficiency in English

This internship leads to a PhD.

Contact : Navin ALAHARI
GANIL, BP 5027, 14 076 Caen cedex 05

Tél. 02 31 45 44 51 Fax : 02 31 45 44 21
e-mail :


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