Wednesday, 16th March
13:30, Seminar Room F

Nuclear-Structure Calculations for Basic Research and Society

Peter Möller

Abstract: Modeling of nuclear properties such as low-lying energy levels, nuclear masses, radioactive decay half-lives etc, is perhaps by many though of as a purely "basic research" activity, that is theorists try to calculate and model a few levels in some nucleus that is under study by an experimental team. This is one aspect of nuclear model applications. But in society there is a great need to model a vast number of nuclear processes: nuclear reactor behavior under various operating conditions, radiation levels under various operating conditions of a large accelerator under design, or a nuclear rocket engine for a space probe! To model such scenarios requires as one important part a knowledge of many different nuclear properties for literally thousands of nuclei. Reactor modeling needs beta decay rates for all the fission products that occur, the probability that one of the fission products emits a beta-delayed neutron and the probability of various outcomes if a neutron of a certain energy in the reactor hits a 235U nucleus. With what probability is it absorbed, or just inelastically scattered, or with what probability does escape capture and in addition knocks out another neutron so that we are left with two neutrons and a 234U nucleus.

A model that has been very successful both for "basic research" and for large-scale global nuclear-structure calculations of various properties for thousands of nuclei is the macroscopic-microscopic method in a formulation that has emerged over many years of collaboration between Los Alamos and other groups, especially in Lund and Berkeley. I will explain the main features of this approach and show some of its successful applications in basic research areas and in providing nuclear-structure data for applications.