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DE-FG02-97ER41042: Nuclear Structure Research at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • UEI: U3NVH931QJJ3
  • DUNS: 042092122
  • Most Recent Award Date: 08/01/2023
  • Number of Support Periods: 26
  • PM: Sorensen, Paul
  • Current Budget Period: 04/01/2022 - 03/31/2023
  • Current Project Period: 04/01/2021 - 03/31/2024
  • PI: Huffman, Paul
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

Nuclear Structure Research at the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory

Paul Huffman (Principal Investigator), Robert Golub (Co-Investigator), Matthew Green,
John Kelley, Richard Longland, Albert Young (Co-Investigator)

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC


     This proposal aims to advance understanding of the properties of nuclei and nuclear interactions, improve models of stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis in stars, perform sensitive studies of neutrino properties, search for weak processes that violate fundamental symmetries beyond those in the Standard Model of particles and fields, educate the next generation of nuclear physicists, disseminate nuclear data, and apply nuclear physics techniques to create solutions in response to national needs.

     The proposed research will be carried out by the Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory (TUNL), a consortium of Duke University, NC State University and the University of NC at Chapel Hill consisting of 20 faculty members, 43 graduate students, and 13 postdocs and research scientists. The TUNL research infrastructure includes particle accelerator facilities, technical and administrative support, and specialized research laboratories. The main accelerator facilities are the High Intensity Gamma-ray Source (HIγS), the Laboratory for Experimental Nuclear Astrophysics (LENA), and the tandem laboratory.

     This work will contribute to the four broad areas outlined in the 2015 Long Range Plan and emphasizes:

·       Low-Energy Quantum Chromodynamics: The central goal is to connect nuclear phenomena and quantum chromodynamics, specifically with measurements of the electromagnetic and spin polarizabilities of the nucleons. These experiments will be performed at HIγS via Compton scattering with polarized beams and targets.

·       Nuclear Structure and Reactions: Here we will use nuclear resonance fluorescence (at HIγS) and spectroscopy measurements (at the tandem) in an effort aimed at understanding the low-excitation structure of medium and heavy nuclei and matrix elements for 0nbb decay.

·       Nuclear Astrophysics: Our research addresses open questions related to the big bang, globular clusters, classical novae, AGB stars, presolar grains, and radioactivity in the interstellar medium. Experimental work will be carried out at LENA, which has recently been upgraded and the tandem (using the upgraded Enge split-pole spectrometer).

·       Fundamental Symmetries: This program focuses on searches for physics beyond the Standard Model through b-decay measurements and a search for an electric dipole moment of the neutron (the nEDM experiment (at the ORNL Spallation Neutron Source). Other efforts center on measurements of weak coupling constants using the β-decay of ultracold neutrons.

·        Neutrino Physics: Our efforts in neutrinos fall into four main themes: searches for coherent elastic neutrino-nucleus scattering (COHERENT), a measurement of the absolute neutrino mass (KATRIN), searches for 0νββ decay, and nuclear structure measurements intended to improve calculations of 0νββ matrix elements. Our primary emphasis in 0νββ decay is the MAJORANA DEMONSTRATOR, which is operating at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD.

     Work at TUNL also focuses on applications of nuclear data and techniques. These include nuclear data dissemination, development of particle beam capabilities at the TUNL accelerator facilities, development of ultra low-background materials and assay techniques, and nuclear reaction and structure measurements important for national nuclear security.

     The broad scientific and technical expertise of the TUNL faculty along with the collaborative environment at TUNL provide hands-on research experiences for graduate students who ultimately lead their own thesis projects. Over the next three years, the proposed research will produce about 8% (20) of the nation’s Ph.D. recipients in experimental nuclear physics. This program will also provide research opportunities for about 20 undergraduate students each year and for continued collaboration with research groups from primarily undergraduate serving institutions, including two local historically black universities, NC Central University and NC A&T State University. We expect that NC Central University will shortly become the fourth institution of the TUNL consortium.


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