Theoretical Nuclear Physics
NSCL Office 2059
Phone: (517) 908-7326
e-mail: witek at frib.msu.edu
Atomic nuclei, the core of matter and the fuel of stars, are self-bound collections of protons and neutrons (nucleons) that interact through forces that have their origin in quantum chromo-dynamics. Nuclei comprise 99.9% of all baryonic matter in the Universe. The complex nature of the nuclear forces among protons and neutrons yields a diverse and unique variety of nuclear phenomena, which form the basis for the experimental and theoretical studies. Developing a comprehensive description of all nuclei, a long-standing goal of nuclear physics, requires theoretical and experimental investigations of rare atomic nuclei, i.e. systems with neutron-to-proton ratios larger and smaller than those naturally occurring on earth. Key scientific themes that are being addressed by nuclear physics research are captured by four overarching questions:
Heavy nuclei are splendid laboratories of many-body science. While the number of degrees of freedom in heavy nuclei is large, it is still very small compared to the number of electrons in a solid or atoms in a mole of gas. Nevertheless, nuclei exhibit behaviors that are emergent in nature and present in other complex systems. For instance, shell structure, symmetry breaking phenomena, collective excitations, and superconductivity are found in nuclei, atomic clusters, quantum dots, small metallic grains, and trapped atom gases.
Although the interactions of nuclear physics differ from the electromagnetic interactions that dominate chemistry, materials, and biological molecules, the theoretical methods and many of the computational techniques to solve the quantum many-body problems are shared. Examples are ab-initio and configuration interaction methods, and the Density Functional Theory, used by nuclear theorists to describe light and heavy nuclei and nucleonic matter.
Today, much interest in various fields of physics is devoted to the study
of small open quantum systems, whose properties are profoundly affected
by environment, i.e., continuum of decay channels. Although every finite
fermion system has its own characteristic features, resonance phenomena
are generic; they are great interdisciplinary unifiers. In the field of
nuclear physics, the growing interest in theory of open quantum systems
is associated with experimental efforts in producing weakly bound/unbound
nuclei close to the particle drip-lines, and studying structures and reactions
with those exotic systems. In this context, the major problem for nuclear
theory is a unification of structure and reaction aspects of nuclei, that
is based on the open quantum system many-body formalism. Solution of this
challenging problem has been advanced recently through the new-generation
continuum shell model approaches, in particular the Gamow Shell Model
based on the Berggren ensemble.
The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams will be a world-leading
laboratory for the study of nuclear structure, reactions and
astrophysics. Experiments with intense beams of rare isotopes
produced at FRIB will guide us toward a comprehensive
description of nuclei, elucidate the origin of the elements
in the cosmos, help provide an understanding of matter in
neutron stars and establish the scientific foundation for
innovative applications of nuclear science to society. FRIB will
be essential for gaining access to key regions of the nuclear
chart, where the measured nuclear properties will challenge
established concepts, and highlight shortcomings and needed
modifications to current theory. Conversely, nuclear theory
will play a critical role in providing the intellectual framework
for the science at FRIB, and will provide invaluable guidance
to FRIB’s experimental programs.
Dr. Witold Nazarewicz is both a John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Physics at Michigan State University, and a professor of physics at Warsaw University, Poland. He is also a Corporaste Fellow at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Physics Division. During 1999-2012 he served as the Scientific Director of the ORNL Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility. He has held several visiting positions, including professorships at Lund University, University of Cologne, Kyoto University, University of Liverpool, University of the West of Scotland, and Peking University.
Dr. Nazarewicz is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the U.K. Institute of Physics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was named a 2008 Carnegie Centenary Professor by the Carnegie Trust in Scotland; received Honorary Doctorates from University of the West of Scotland in 2009 (see write-ups from UWS and DailyRecord) and University of York in 2019 (see the UoY announcement and graduation broadcast); was awarded the 2012 Tom W. Bonner Prize from the American Physical Society (see write-ups from APS and UT Physics, as well as an interview with Panorama, Polish TV2 News); was named the 2012 Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Distinguished Scientist and 2013 UT-Battelle (ORNL) Corporate Fellow, ORNL., and was awarded the G.N. Flerov Prize of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research for theoretical studies of the atomic and nuclear properties of the heaviest elements.
Dr. Nazarewicz is the author of nine review papers and more than 420 refereed publications in scientific journals, with more than 28,000 citations and h-index of 88 (Web of Science) and 102 (Google Scholar). He has also made more than 170 contributions to major conferences, published in their respective proceedings. He has given ~220 invited talks at major international conferences and more than 250 invited seminars and colloquia. Dr. Nazarewicz has helped organize ~70 meetings and conferences and presently serves on 12 professional committees and editorial boards.
Pictures of Witek's group
Rare Isotope Research
Superheavy Element/Nuclei Research
Current Events (Selected)