The project involves the generation of hot and dense plasmas in order that the atomic transition energies overlap with the nuclear excitation energies. It is believed that the conditions exist in some exotic regions of our Universe, where electron capture and transitions may cause excitation and de-excitation of the nucleus. This would necessarily change the way in which we understand nuclear astrophysics and, indeed, the origin of heavy nuclei. The project would cover both experimental and simulation work, with the experimental work being carried out at high power lasers facilities in the UK, Europe and the US. The project will begin by using experiments and simulation tools to determine the temperatures and densities accessible in such laser-plasma interactions. From this point, measurements of changes in tabulated nuclear physics parameters will allow improved understanding of both the fundamental physics as well as its impact on the evolution of the Universe around us.
A fully-funded (3.5 year) iCase studentship is available for this project. This work will be carried out in collaboration with AWE Aldermaston. This project would interest a student with a background in experimental physics and who wants to pursue a project with a broad and interdisciplinary theme that covers the fields of atomic, nuclear, laser and plasma physics.
For further information about the project, please email either Professor David Jenkins ([email protected]
) or Dr Christopher Murphy ([email protected]