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Hybrid organ embedded into PKU for transient nuclei snapshots

Peking University, May 27, 2013: Nuclear physicists from both China and the US gathered at Peking University (PKU), congratulating on the birth of a new research entity in their area.


Over 70 attended the establishment ceremony of China-U.S. Theory Institute for Physics with Exotic Nuclei (CUSTIPEN) on May 7, discussing for more effectiveness in related transnational collaborations. Afterwards, the first Workshop was held around the astrophysical impacts of exotic nuclei and neutron-rich nucleonic matter.



Group photo at the Workshop


The distributed CUSTIPEN previously named PKU as its focus site, where scholars from 45 participating institutions – 21 in China and 24 in the US – collectively engaged themselves in promoting the research on exotic nuclei, both theoretically and experimentally.


One post of co-director was given to Ye Yanlin, former dean of PKU School of Physics. Professor Xu Furong, managing director of CUSTIPEN, is the other PKU staff member in the Governing Board.


Pawel Danielewicz, co-director for the US, comes from the world-leading Michigan State University in the realm of nuclear physics. Professor Li Bao’an, a nuclear theorist by training at Texas A&M University, serves as principal investigator.


CUSTIPEN co-directors from the Chinese (L) and the US sides (File photos)


CUSTIPEN, as the third institute of its kind, is funded by the American Department of Energy to "deliver an international venue for research on the physics of nuclei during an era of experimental investigations on rare isotopes."


Rare isotopes, as is predicted with the so-called “drip lines”, make up the majority of the nuclear family in the physical world. The family, to be described as the “full” graph of isotopes, is supposed to contain more than 7,000 members. Apart from 300 “stable” isotopes or so, people have thus far found about 3,000 rare ones, whose lifetimes are still too long compared to the nuclear scale.


Graph of isotopes for carbon to fluorine (by type of nuclear decay, similarly hereinafter), where stable isotopes (black boxes) takes up a small percentage (Wikipedia)



In the general graph of isotopes – fewer than 4,000 of which physicists do have known and plotted, there is still a huge blank for scientific explorers. (Wikipedia)


However, the exotic nuclei “in the real sense” usually decay in 10-20 seconds or shorter after their births. Despite the difficulty in “grasping” and recording them, frontiers of nuclear physics are now moving further and further in that direction: Exotic nuclei have been utilized in astrophysics as a key to crucial problems, since the short-lived particles once dominated the nucleosynthesis processes and finally generate everything visual in the current Universe; they are also expected for a series of surprises concerning nuclear shells, shapes and reactions, making it possible to test ideas about nuclear structure in general; furthermore, one can hope to find among them the best candidates to look for the violation of fundamental symmetries in nature.


Eager for a promising set of practical applications of rare isotopes, nuclear physicists in a range of research fields, institutes and countries have joined their hands to build a number of large world centers. The in-design Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), for instance, will be the largest university-based laboratory in the US, with full staff exceeding five hundred and over 1,000 users per year from all over the world.


Prior to CUSTIPEN, JUSTIPEN was established in 2006 to foster collaborations among nuclear theorists in the US and in Japan; while France participated in the creation of FUSTIPEN in 2010 with a similar purpose.



Written by: Jin Baihong and Arthars

Source: PKU News (Chinese), the American Physical Society, and CUSTIPEN