Nuclear Structure

  • What is the nature of the nuclear force that binds nucleons into stable nuclei and rare isotopes?
  • Where are the limits of nuclear stability and which isotopes of each element are particle bound?
  • How do simple patterns of excitation (such as rotational bands) emerge from the complex interaction of hundreds of nucleons?

The nucleus is one of the most challenging quantum many-body systems to describe. This is largely due to the fact that the primary modes of excitation (single-particle excitation, spherical vibrations, rotations of a deformed shape) all act on a very similar energy scale, meaning that all are observed in nature and become mixed together. The key to describing the diverse features of nuclear structure is to develop a robust and complete understanding of the nuclear force which acts between the constituent nucleons. This is a major challenge because of the enormous computational power required to describe the behaviour of tens or hundreds of nucleons, and the many contributions to the nuclear force which subtly change as a function of neutron and proton number, neutron proton ratio and excitation energy. Nonetheless, tremendous progress has been made in recent years in both developing the theoretical tools and frameworks which can make this link from QCD to nuclei, and in the acquirement of pertinent nuclear data that can challenge and drive forward the development of these theoretical calculations. Canadian researchers are at the forefront of this field of research and with continued support and strategic investment, Canada is well positioned to make key contributions to the field of nuclear structure research in the coming years.