Physics - Alternate path to success


Results from low-energy collisions of neutron-rich unstable nuclei and nickel-64 could point to the recipe for making the super heavy elements that have eluded physicists for some 40 years. Experiments by Oak Ridge National Laboratory physicists Dan Shapira and Felix Liang have demonstrated an enhancement of the tunneling effect that permits two colliding nuclei to fuse into one nucleus at long distances. They accomplish this feat by increasing the number of neutrons, the "glue" that holds nuclei together, in the beam. In this case it was unstable nuclei of tin-132. This approach is in sharp contrast to the conventional approach of smashing stable isotopes with high beam current to compensate for the lower probability for tunneling. Shapira and Liang's work, which was published in the Oct. 15 (Volume 91, No. 15) issue of Physical Review Letters, represents another step in the quest for synthesizing super heavy elements. This knowledge is critical to understanding the distribution of elements in the universe. This unique measurement was made at ORNL's Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility, the only facility in the world that could produce such heavy neutron-rich beams with sufficient energy and intensity.

 -  Ron Walli,  865.576.0226,  November 05, 2003

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