Things fall apart: unravelling the reaction mechanisms of weakly-bound nuclei
Prof. Kaitlin Cook
FRIB at Michigan State University
Advanced radioactive beam facilities are opening a new era in nuclear physics, expanding our field into the region close to and beyond the drip lines in the nuclear chart, the limit of existence of atomic nuclei. In these regions, nuclei are commonly ‘weakly-bound’, requiring small energy input to remove one or more protons or neutrons. The influence of weak-binding on reaction outcomes such as fusion is still not fully understood.
An important consequence of weak-binding that has been observed in reactions of light weakly-bound nuclei near stability – such as 6,7,8 Li, 9 Be – is the suppression of complete fusion cross-sections by ~30 % at above-barrier energies, together with an associated large yield of incomplete fusion, where only part of the projectile is captured. I will give an overview of the field, and discuss recent measurements designed to reveal the mechanism behind incomplete fusion. The results of these measurements are inconsistent with the conventional picture of breakup of the weakly-bound nucleus followed by capture of a fragment and instead suggest incomplete fusion is largely dominated by direct capture from the projectile ground state.
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