February 3, 2023

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The cores are like popcorn.  This is how scientists learn their secrets

The cores are like popcorn. This is how scientists learn their secrets

The authors of these analyzes write about their achievements in the pages physical review c. Their research uses knowledge dating back to the 1960s. Then the Nobel laureate Maria Joubert-Mayer got involved in working on a mathematical model of the structure of atomic nuclei. It has become clear, among other things, why the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus is so stable.

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Decades later, scientists used the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System to accelerate Ni-64 cores toward a target made of lead. The lead atoms were able to excite the nickel nuclei through electromagnetic forces resulting from the repulsion of protons in lead and protons in nickel.

The study authors analyzed the atomic nuclei and took a closer look at Ni-64

The researchers compare the whole process to making popcorn. The grains placed in the microwave are heated, and then they begin to quickly swell, taking on different shapes and sizes. As a result, the popcorn that goes in and comes out of the microwave will be very different from each other. Most importantly, the cores would change shape due to the energy exerted on them.

For the physics, the excitation of the Ni-64 nuclei was monitored by an instrument called GRETINA. He discovered the gamma rays emitted during the decay of nuclei to the ground state. In turn, a detector known as CHICO2 determined the direction of motion of the particles involved in this process. The collected data made it possible to determine the shape of Ni-64 as a result of excitation.

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As it turned out, the spherical nickel atomic nucleus changed into one of two shapes depending on the amount of energy, which is surprising for heavy nuclei such as Ni-64, which consists of many protons and neutrons. The continuation of this kind of research should lead to major changes in medicine, astrophysics or all kinds of projects related to nuclear energy.