T-2, Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Nuclear reactions for basic science and applications: a unified approach

Gregory Potel

Nuclear reactions are processes in which two nuclear species collide, allowing them to exchange matter, energy, and momentum. In stars and other astrophysical environments, reactions such as neutron capture are important to determine the isotopic abundance pattern observed in the Universe. These processes are also at the basis of nuclear reactors operation, nuclear waste management, and stockpile stewardship. On the other hand, nuclear reactions are also essential experimental tools to probe nuclear structure, and to inform, validate, and refine, theoretical structure models. To take full advantage of their potential, one has to accurately and consistently describe the dynamics of the collision, in order to extract unambiguous structure information from the observation of the reaction cross sections. This is the role of reaction theory. We present recent advances in the consistent integration of a variety of structure models in an unified reaction formalism, providing also an important theoretical contribution to the emerging field of precision continuum spectroscopy. Within this new powerful approach, we will also show how reactions widely used as probes for nuclear structure studies can also be used to obtain information about neutron capture cross sections with almost unprecedented accuracy.


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