Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hi ho silver! FSU physicist helps discover an atomic oddity

27.01.2006


Working with an international team of scientists, a Florida State University physics professor has taken part in an experiment that resulted in the creation of a silver atom with exotic properties never before observed. The team’s observations represent another step forward in science’s long journey to understand the nuclear reactions that power stars and produce all matter.



Sam Tabor, a professor of experimental nuclear physics at FSU and director of the university’s Superconducting Accelerator Laboratory, recently performed the experiment at the GSI laboratory in Darmstadt, Germany, in collaboration with the international team. In the experiment, a cigar-shaped atom was created using a particle collider. To the scientists’ surprise, this atom demonstrated a novel kind of radioactive decay by spitting out two free protons at the same time.

Radioactive decay normally involves the emission of one of three types of particle: a helium nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons, an electron or a photon. Exotic atoms engineered to contain fewer neutrons than in the atom’s natural state were expected to break down by emitting protons one at a time. But the correlated two-proton decay hadn’t been seen before and represents a new form of radioactivity.


The team’s findings were published in the Jan. 19 issue of Nature, the world’s foremost scientific weekly journal.

"The purpose of this line of research is to expand our knowledge of nuclear physics beyond those nuclei present in nature by exploring nuclei with either fewer or more neutrons," Tabor said. "This will help us to understand even the stable nuclei. Another motivation is the fact that such unstable nuclei play important roles in astrophysics and the production of the elements on Earth. We cannot fully understand the astrophysical processes by which even the atoms in our body were produced until we understand the structure of neutron-rich and neutron-poor nuclei."

At the GSI lab, Tabor and his colleagues bombarded a thin film of nickel foil with a beam of calcium atoms, causing some nickel and calcium ions to coalesce to form silver atoms with fewer neutrons than normal. Most of these silver atoms decayed conventionally, but a few ejected two protons at once.

The deficit of neutrons in the silver had deformed the nuclei from spheres into fat cigar shapes. In some cases the proton pairs jumped out from the same end of the cigar, at other times from opposite ends, but they were always perfectly synchronized, Tabor said.

"It’s like there’s a captain on board telling them exactly when to dive," he added.

In addition to Tabor, other members of the team were from Germany, Belgium, Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy and Spain.

The collaborators now are discussing future directions for their research. "However," Tabor said, "we are also performing related research at the Superconducting Accelerator Laboratory right here at FSU. Experiments currently under way here are exploring nuclei with neutron excesses, and we have built a facility to directly study reactions and nuclei of importance to astrophysics," Tabor said.

Not all of Tabor’s work is on such an elevated plane. At FSU he also serves as coordinator of "The Flying Circus of Physics," an open house and science fair hosted every other year by the physics department to showcase some of the department’s cutting-edge research facilities.

"’The Flying Circus of Physics’ is a way to help generate interest in the sciences, particularly among youngsters, by showing folks that physics is fun," Tabor said.

Sam Tabor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.physics.fsu.edu
http://www.fsu.com

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Turning entanglement upside down
22.05.2018 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht Astronomers release most complete ultraviolet-light survey of nearby galaxies
18.05.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>