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Recent News Items

The return of collective rotation in erbium nuclei at ultra high spin - 5 January 2007
A new frontier of discrete-line gamma-ray spectroscopy at ultra-high spin has been opened in the rare-earth nuclei Er-157,158 where very weakly populated rotational bands have been established. These structures bypass the well-known "band terminating" states, marking a return to collectivity that extends discrete gamma-ray spectroscopy to well over 60 hbar in these nuclei. (E.S. Paul et al. 2007 Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 012501)
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

A nuclear magic trick - 14 December 2006
Researchers report the first creation of the long-lived nucleus hassium-270, a "doubly magic" combination of 108 protons and 162 neutrons. Its long lifetime of 22 seconds supports the theory of an "island of stability" for the heaviest elements. (J Dvorak et al. 2006 Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 242501)
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

Elements 116 and 118 discovered in Dubna - 16 October 2006
At the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, Russian and American physicists have sent a beam of calcium-48 ions into a target of californium-249 atoms to create temporarily a handful of atoms representing element 118. Nuclei of element 118 decay to become element 116 (hereby itself discovered for the first time), and then element 114, and then element 112 by emitting detectable alpha particles. The element 112 nucleus subsequently fissions. (Y Oganessian et al. 2006 Phys. Rev. C 74, 044602)
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

Finding the Island of Stability: the expedition sails from Liverpool - 23 August 2006
How heavy can the chemical elements be? Ever since scientists discovered in the mid-twentieth century that new, "synthetic" elements can be made through nuclear reactions, they have wondered how far the periodic table of elememnts might be extended by forcing existing atomic nuclei into "superheavy" mergers. (R. Herzberg et al. 2006 Nature 442, 896)

Smallest pyramids in the universe - 22 August 2006
French physicists believe they can solve the mystery behind dozens of nuclear experiments conducted years ago. They predict that some atomic nuclei can exist in the form of tetrahedrons or octahedrons. (J. Dudek et al. 2006 Phys. Rev. Lett 97, 072501)
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

Nuclear molecule: nature's smallest dumbbell - 19 January 2006
An oxygen molecule is a small dumbbell less than a nonometre across: two oxygen atoms with two electrons flying between acting as the bonding agent. Now an international consortium has succeeded in making a dumbbell far smaller: a beryllium-10 nucleus consisting of two alpha particleswith two neutrons flying between acting as a sort of nuclear bonding agency. (M. Freer et al. 2006 Phys. Rev. Lett 96, 042501)
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

Nickel-78, the most neutron-rich of the doubly magic nuclei - 27 April 2005
Nickel-78, the most neutron-rich of the doubly magic nuclei (28 protons and 50 neutrons), has had its lifetime measured for the first time, which will help us better understand how heavy elements are created.
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

All change for stellar evolution - 13 January 2005
Models of how quickly stars evolve may have to be modified after nuclear phycicists found that the rate at which three helium nuclei transform into Carbon-12, the so-called triple alpha process, is very different from earlier estimates. (H Fynbo et al. 2005 Nature 433 136).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

The Helium-6 nucleus - 28 September 2004
The Helium-6 nucleus consists of a He-4 nucleus (two protons plus two neutrons) surrounded by a halo cloud consisting of two more neutrons. The charge radius for He-6 has now been measured for the first time and confirms it to be the lightest "halo nucleus" (L -B Wang et al. 2004 Phys. Rev. Lett. 93 142501).
(Physics News Update - American Institute of Physics)

Stars may be older than we think - 24 May 2004
The universe could be a billion years older than previously thought. The latest results from the LUNA experiment in Italy suggest that the cross-section for a crucial reaction in the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen (CNO) cycle inside stars is two times slower than the values used in current models.
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Elements 115 and 113 discovered in Dubna - 3 February 2004
A team of Russian and American physicists that discovered elements 114 and 116 in 1998 and 2000 now believe they may have created two other superheavy elements - 113 and 115. If confirmed, these results would lend even more weight to the idea of an "island of stability" at the edge of the periodic table (Y Oganessian et al. 2003 Phys. Rev. C 69 021601)
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Darmstadt gets credit for new elements - 9 October 2003
The discovery of element 111 has been officially credited to the GSI laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany, by a joint working party set up by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and the sister union for physics (IUPAP). IUPAC has also officially approved a proposal from GSI that element 110 - which was also discovered at the German lab - should be known as darmstadtium (Ds).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Nuclear physics: It's a knockout - 9 October 2003
In collisions between nuclei, a proton or neutron might be knocked out of one nucleus. Now, two-proton knockout has been demonstrated, opening a new route to the creation of neutron-rich systems for study.
(2003 Nature 425 570)

Nuclear physicists confirm element 110 discovery - 4 July 2003
The production of an element that has already been seen in three different laboratories would not normally be newsworthy. However, confirmation that element 110 can be made in collisions between lead and nickel nuclei is noteworthy given the recent scandal over element 118. Last year the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US sacked physicist Victor Ninov after an internal review committee found that he had fabricated data purporting to show the existence of a new element containing 118 protons. Now an international team of nuclear physicists led by Ken Gregorich from Berkeley - and containing many of Ninov's former co-workers - has provided the first confirmation of the discovery of element 110 at the GSI laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany (T Ginter et al. 2003 Phys. Rev. C 67 064609).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Molecule without Electrons: Attraction of Naked Nuclei - 19 June 2003
A team of researchers has conceived of a way to create a "molecule without electrons". The method uses lasers to effectively create an attraction between two naked nuclei. If the method proves feasible, it could lead to new types of nuclear experiments and possibly a way to create controlled, small-scale nuclear fusion. (O Smirnova et al. 2003 Phys. Rev. Lett 90 243001).
(Physical Review Focus)

Bismuth breaks half-life record for alpha decay - 23 April 2003
Physicists in France have measured the longest ever radioactive half-life - over twenty billion billion years - in a naturally occurring element that decays by emitting alpha-particles. Noel Coron and colleagues at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay used a 'scintillating bolometer' at very low temperatures to detect the emission of alpha particles - charged particles that consist of two protons and two neutrons - as bismuth-209 decays into thallium-205 (P de Marcillac et al. 2003 Nature 422 876).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Discovery of the natural radioactivity of bismuth - 23 April 2003
A team from the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale d'Orsay (IAS - CNRS, Université Paris XI) has just detected the decay of the bismuth isotope 209. This isotope is commonly regarded as the heaviest of the stable isotopes. Researchers were able to do this for the first time, thanks to a new type of detector known as a scintillating bolometer made of bismuth germanate. This type of measuring instrument is used to reveal the existence of enigmatic particles that could be one of the components of the Dark Matter in the universe. These results were published in the review, Nature, on April 24, 2003.
(CRNS Press release)

Hydrogen-7 makes its debut - 7 March 2003
The heaviest isotope of hydrogen ever has been detected at the RIKEN laboratory in Japan. The isotope contains six neutrons and one proton and is known as hydrogen-7. An international team of researchers from Japan, Russia, the UK, France and Sweden collided a high-energy beam of helium-8 atoms with a cryogenic hydrogen target to make the novel isotope (A A Korsheninnikov et al. 2003 Phys. Rev. Lett. 082501)
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

TRIUMF: the home of Canadian subatomic physics - January 2003
TRIUMF supports a broad range of research at the world's largest cyclotron, as well as coordinating Canadian contributions to international particle physics.
(CERN courrier Vol 43 Num 1)

Researchers observe two-proton radioactivity - December 2002
Teams from France, Germany and Poland have recently observed two-proton radioactive decay from iron-45 nuclei. Bertram Blank explains how this opens up exciting new research avenues in nuclear physics.
(CERN courrier Vol 42 Num 10)

University hosts premier rare-isotope facility - October 2002
Since it was founded in the 1980s, Michigan State University's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory has evolved to become the US's premier rare-isotope facility. Georg Bollen reports on its varied activities.
(CERN courrier Vol 42 Num 8)

Missing Nuclei: Gone for a Reason - October 11 2002
Researchers have made the best calculations yet to show why there are no nuclei composed of five or eight particles (R B Wiringa and S C Pieper 2002 Phys. Rev. Lett. 89 182501).
(Physical Review Focus)

Nuclei reveal novel decay - 16 September 2002
Two independent teams of nuclear physicists have found evidence for a new form of radioactivity involving the simultaneous emission of two protons. Researchers at the GANIL laboratory in France and the GSI laboratory in Germany observed two-proton decay using the short-lived isotope iron-45. They say that this form of radioactivity should reveal important information about the structure of the nucleus (J Giovinazzo et al. 2002 Physical Review Letters 89 102501, M Pfutzner et al. 2002 European Physical Journal A14 279).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

A new mode of radioactive decay: The two-proton radioactivity - 6 June 2002
In two recent experiments, one at Grand accélérateur national d'ions lourds (Ganil - CNRS/CEA) in Caen (France) and one at Gesellschaft für SchwerIonenforschung (GSI) in Darmstadt (Germany), an international team of physicists has demonstrated for the first time the radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus Iron-45 by the simultaneous emission of two protons. This radioactive decay mode has been actively sought for 40 years by the nuclear physics community and opens a new avenue for the study of the atomic nucleus.
(CNRS Press release)

Physicists get a taste of 'tetra-neutrons' - 14 May 2002
The first evidence for 'tetra-neutrons' - nuclear clusters containing four neutrons and no protons - has been found at the GANIL accelerator in France. An international team of researchers detected six candidates for the four-neutron clusters among fragments of neutron-rich beryllium nuclei that were produced in a collision experiment. The team hopes to confirm its discovery in future experiments, an achievement that would have a major impact on our understanding of nuclear forces (F Marques et al 2002 Phys. Rev. C 65 044006).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Radioactive beam research notches up 50 years - May 2002
Research using accelerated beams of short-lived nuclei has grown into a major activity. Karsten Riisager reports from a recent symposium in Copenhagen that looked at the status and future prospects of the field.
(CERN courrier Vol 42 Num 4)

Can a nucleus be made up of neutrons only? - 25 April 2002
An international team led by physicists from the "Laboratoire de physique corpusculaire de Caen" (Particle Physics Laboratory of Caen, CNRS/IN2P3-ISMRA(1)) , have presented experimental results suggesting the existence of a bound atomic nucleus made up of four neutrons (a "tetraneutron"). These results, to be published soon in Physical Review C, have been obtained by using the exotic beams of the French national large heavy-ion accelerator in Caen (Ganil, CEA-CNRS). If confirmed, this discovery, which would call into question current theoretical models, will have major repercussion in the field of nuclear physics.
(CNRS Press release)

Gazing into a Nuclear Mirror - 23 April 2002
Protons and neutrons are essentially the same, in theory, if you ignore the proton's charge. The most precise tests of the similarity in the behaviour of protons and neutrons in a nucleus have been carried out (2002 P D Cottle et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88 172502).
(Physical Review Focus)

Climbing out of the nuclear valley - March 2002
With nuclear physics largely confined to a narrow band of stable isotopes, a new US machine aims to provide a wider nuclear perspective.
(CERN courrier Vol 42 Num 2)

SPIRAL: a new tool for nuclear physics - 25 February 2002
The new Spiral facility at the GANIL heavy ion accelerator in Caen was inaugurated today by Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg, French Minister of Research, René Garrec, President of the Lower Normandy Regional Council, Geneviève Berger, Director-General of the CNRS, and Pascal Colombani, Administrator General of the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). With Spiral, the GANIL, a jointly managed CEA-CNRS laboratory, now offers the scientific community an exceptional research tool that is unique in Europe for the study of atomic nuclear physics. The facility bolsters France's leading international position in this field.
(CNRS Press release)

New experiment to probe neutrino mass - 1 February 2002
An experiment being built at the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy could provide valuable insights into neutrino physics and the nature of dark matter. Ettore Fiorini of Milan University and colleagues have calculated that their tellurium detector - named CUORE - should be able to observe an extremely rare kind of beta decay for the first time. Such an observation would yield a value for the mass of the neutrino, thought to account for some of the universe's dark matter (
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Radioactive beam research gets new facility - January/February 2002
CERN's new nuclear physics facility, REX-ISOLDE, was commissioned at the end of October, opening up new horizons for the laboratory's nuclear physics community. REX-ISOLDE builds on CERN's existing radioactive beam facility, taking radioactive ions and boosting them to energies of up to 2.2 MeV per nucleon.
(CERN courrier Vol 42 Num 1)

Experiment boosts the idea of a nuclear halo - November 2001
The availability of relatively copious sources of antiprotons has stimulated the study of "exotic" atoms, in which a negatively charged antiproton replaces an orbital atomic electron. When they approach the nucleus these antiprotons feel the nuclear force and can be used to probe nuclear forces and structure. A new result from CERN underlines the existence of an outer nuclear "halo" composed mainly of neutrons.
(CERN courrier Vol 41 Num 9)

GANIL: The SPIRAL facility produces its first beam of exotic nuclei - 27 September 2001
On September 23, 2001, in Caen, France, the "Grand Accélérateur National d'Ions Lourds" (heavy ion accelerator) delivered its first beam of exotic ions when Spiral*, the new system of production and acceleration, was put into operation. These particle beams will allow scientists to understand the laws governing the structure and behavior of matter at the level of the nucleus of the atom. GANIL, a laboratory managed jointly by the CEA (French Atomic Energy Commission) and the CNRS, can now offer the international community an exceptional resource to explore fields of investigation of nuclear matter previously inaccessible.
(CNRS Press release)

First hints of novel nuclei - 21 August 2001
A super-heavy isotope of hydrogen that has four neutrons and a proton in its nucleus has been detected for the first time. Physicists have been attempting to create hydrogen-5 - which is thought to exist inside stars - for over 40 years. An international collaboration identified the highly unstable isotope at the RIKEN detector in Japan (A Korsheninnikov et al 2001 Phys. Rev. Lett. 87 092501). Meanwhile, physicists at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US have created a significant number of nuclei containing two 'strange' quarks. Such matter is thought to be abundant in neutron stars (J Ahn et al. 2001 Phys. Rev. Lett. 87 132504).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Antiprotons map Nuclear Surface - 21 August 2001
The topography of heavy nuclei is difficult to map because their surfaces consist mostly of neutrons, which evade many methods for detection. A new technique which employs antiprotons has now been applied to heavy nuclei. The results show that the neutrons form a halo around the nucleus (A Trzcinska et al. 2001 Phys. Rev. Lett. 87 082501).
(Physical Review Focus)

ISOLDE tests the Standard Model - July/August 2001
Tests of the Standard Model of particle physics are largely the domain of high-energy particle accelerators. However, a research programme recently inaugurated at CERN's ISOLDE on-line isotope facility is demonstrating that low-energy experiments also have something to say - testing the Standard Model today, and looking for physics beyond it tomorrow.
(CERN courrier Vol 41 Num 6)

Nucleus sheds light on neutron stars - 22 June 2001
A neutron star may be around 10 kilometres in diameter, but it is governed by the same forces that arrange the neutrons in an atomic nucleus just femtometres across. This means that studies of neutron-rich nuclei could provide insights into their astrophysical counterparts. Now Charles Horowitz and Jorge Piekarewicz of Indiana University in the US have measured a lead nucleus and related its properties to the interior of a neutron star (C Horowitz and J Piekarewicz 2001 Phys. Rev. Lett. 86 5647).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Left handed nuclei - 31 January 2001
Many molecular structures have two forms that are mirror images of one another, often called left- and right-handed forms. Now it has been shown that potato-shaped atomic nuclei can also have a "handedness" when they spin around an asymmetric axis (K Starosta et al. 2001 Phys. Rev. Lett. 86 971).
(Physical Review Focus)

Physicists discover new kind of radioactivity - 24 October 2000
Physicists have observed a new type of radioactive decay in which a nucleus emits two protons at once. The team, led by Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, believes that the discovery will help scientists understand the strong nuclear force and provide fresh insights into the creation of elements inside stars. The phenomenon - first predicted forty years ago - was reported at a meeting in Virginia earlier this month and has been submitted to Physical Review Letters.
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Nuclei show their soft side - 13 July 2000
Light nuclei that contain more neutrons than protons have proved to be a rich source of new physics over the past 15 years. Now physicists in Japan have observed a so-called soft dipole resonance in such a nucleus for the first time (S Nakayama et al. 2000 Phys. Rev. Lett. 85 262). The resonance was observed in helium-6, which contains two protons and four neutrons.
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

A triplet of differently shaped spin-zero states in the atomic nucleus 186Pb - 25 May 2000
In atomic nuclei with even numbers of neutrons and protons, the low-lying excitation spectrum is generally formed by nuclear pair breaking and nuclear vibrations or rotations. However, for certain numbers of protons and neutrons, a subtle rearrangement of only a few nucleons can result in a different elementary mode: a macroscopic shape change.
(2000 Nature 405, 430)

The many shapes of lead-186 - 24 May 2000
Most stable nuclei are spherical, and they remain spherical when the nucleus is excited into rotational energy levels. However, when some nuclei are excited they deform into either a cigar-like (prolate) or a disk-like (oblate) shape. Now a team of nuclear physicists from Europe has observed a nucleus in which the three lowest energy states all have different shapes -- spherical, prolate and oblate (A N Andreyev et al. 2000 Nature 405 430).
(PhysWeb - Institute of Physics)

Discovery of doubly magic nickel - April 2000
An experiment at the French GANIL laboratory has recently discovered a new "doubly magic" nucleus - only the tenth such isotope known to science.
(CERN courrier Vol 40 Num 3)

Nuclear physics: Doubly magic nickel - 30 March 2000
Nature 404, 447 - 449 (2000)

Double magic for nickel nucleus - 15 February 2000
(BBC News Online)

Superheavy elements - September 1999
Recent experiments that took place at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, near Moscow, reported evidence for element 114, the first inhabitant of a new island of nuclear stability.
(CERN courrier Vol 39 Num 7)

Landfall on the island of stability - 15 July 1999
(Nature - Science update)

Molecules inside a Nucleus - 18 February 1999
Just as atoms can link up to form molecules, clusters of protons and neutrons can form inside nuclei and connect with one another. Theories that predict such molecular states in nuclei have received a boost from a recent experiment. A beryllium nucleus with eight neutrons and four protons has been found to arrange itself into a molecule-like structure rather than assuming a spherical shape that more naive theories might suggest (M Freer et al. 1999 Phys. Rev. Lett. 82 1383).
(Physical Review Focus)