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Oct 3, 2019

Synopsis: Nuclear Spectroscopy Reveals New Shapes of Excited Nuclei

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Cadmium nuclei take on multiple shapes at low excitation energies, a discovery that overturns a long-accepted tenet of nuclear structure.

Atomic nuclei take on excited states when they vibrate, rotate, or when their constituent nucleons exchange one nuclear shell for another. In nuclei with nearly filled nuclear shells, it has long been thought that low-energy excitations were due exclusively to different patterns of vibration around a spherical shape: only in rare, high-energy excitations were these nuclei expected to assume more exotic shapes. Now, Paul Garrett, of the University of Guelph in Canada, and colleagues have found that the lowest-energy excited states of cadmium-110 and cadmium-112—once considered textbook examples of spherical vibration—are instead due to the rotation of various nonspherical shapes. The result is also the best evidence to date that a stable nucleus like cadmium can assume multiple shapes—all previously studied nuclei with coexisting shapes have been radioactive.

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