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Dr Liam P. Gaffney


Associated Facilities

Local Links

Contact Details:

KU Leuven,
Instituut voor Kern- en Stralingsfysica,
Celestijnenlaan 200D,
3001 Leuven,

Tel: +44 (0)7922 821 415
Email : Liam.Gaffney(at)

Liam Gaffney Representation of the vibrating pear-shaped nucleus, 220Rn

About me:

You can find my (fairly) regularly updated CV here.

I am currently an FWO Pegasus Marie Curie Fellow at KU Leuven, Belgium. I completed my BSc. (first class Hons.) in Physics at the University of Liverpool in 2008 and began my PhD in autumn of that year. I completed my PhD at the end of 2012 and was awarded the IOP Nuclear Physics Group Early Career prize for my work on heavy octupole nuclei. In February 2013 at started as a post-doctoral fellow at KU Leuven before being awarded my current one-year FWO fellowship, which started in January 2014.

My Research:

My area of research focuses on the use of Radioactive Ion Beams (RIBs) to study collective excitations and shapes in heavy, exotic nuclei, under the supervision of Prof. Peter Butler. I am involved with a number of projects, one being the study of shape coexistence in even-mass, neutron deficient mercury isotopes (182≤A≤188). Coulomb excitation, lifetime measurements and electron spectroscopy studies, hope to determine the electro-magnetic matrix elements connecting low-lying, excited states and hence test theoretical predictions of competing prolate and oblate shapes at low excitation energies.

The other project in which I have a major involvement, is the measurement of octupole collectivity in 220,222Rn and 222,224Ra. The Coulomb excitation of the radium-224 RIB was performed at REX-ISOLDE, CERN in the summer of 2010 and radon-220 in the summer of 2011. The analysis yielded measurement of E3 matrix element connecting the ground state to the first excited 3- states in these nuclei, <0+||E3||3-> and hence also their B(E3;0+→3-) values. This is the only way of unambiguously determining the strength of the octupole character in these nuclei and hence provided the first measurement of octupole deformation in short-lived nuclei.

My PhD thesis, entitled "Octupole collectivity in 220Rn and 224Ra", is available here. This research was consequently published in Nature 497, 199-204 (2013) and was selected for the cover of the 9th May 2013 issue. The content of that paper can be found here. Physics World selected this as one of the Top 10 Physics Breakthroughs of the year 2013. Alongside this, many news stories were generated by media outlets around the world (examples here) including a discussion on BBC Radio 4's Material World.

Recent Work:


A static list of my publications is available here with links to the articles and full text, where available. However, this may not be up to date, so you can also check the automatic lists below.

Click here to load an up to date list of my publications via BibBase.

There is also an interactive list here if the above list doesn't work correctly.

Invited talks and seminars

Format : Web Link It's all gone pear-shaped: Octupole-deformed nuclei studied via Coulomb excitation

Seminar at CEA Saclay :: 13rd December 2013 - CEA Saclay, France

Format : Web Link It's all gone pear-shaped

ISOLDE Seminar :: 23rd May 2013 - ISOLDE, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

Format : Apple Keynote Format : Adobe PDF Format : Web Link Octupole collectivity studied using radioactive-ion beams

IOP Nuclear and Particle Physics Divisional Conference 2013 :: 8th April 2013 - University of York, York, UK


Keynote files are password protected - For use by collaborators only.

Click here to view a list of talks at various conferences, workshops and seminars with links.


Click here to view a list of posters presentated at various conferences, workshops and research events.

Conferences attended

Miniball Workshop 2013

:: 24-15 October 2013 - CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

Shape coexistence across the chart of nuclides

:: 15-16 April 2013 - University of York, York, UK

IoP Nuclear Physics Group Conference 2013

:: 7-10 April 2013 - University of York, York, UK

Workshop on shape coexistence in the lead region

:: 16-17 January 2012 - KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

ISOLDE Workshop and Users Meeting 2011

:: 5-7 December 2011 - CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

EGAN 2011: European Gamma and Ancillary detectors Network

:: 27-30 June 2011 - Centro Culturale Altinate, Padova, Italy

ARIS 2011: Advances in Radioactive Isotope Science

:: 29 May - 3 June 2011 - KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

IOP Nuclear and Particle Physics Divisional Conference 2011

:: 4-7 April 2011 - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

ISOLDE Workshop and Users Meeting 2010

:: 8-10 December 2010 - CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

MINIBALL Workshop and Users Meeting 2010

:: 15-16 April 2010 - KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

ISOLDE Workshop and Users Meeting 2009

:: 18-20 November 2009 - CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

IOP Nuclear Physics Conference 2009

:: 6-8 April 2009 - University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

Last modified: January 01 1970 01:00:00.