Physics Department Headugreife@mines.edu
email@example.com (department head related communications)
Currently the research group is pursuing the following three activity streams:
1) Nuclear astrophysics with radioactive ion beams (RIB): we are performing RIB experiments, predominantly radiative capture in inverse kinematics, at the facilities of TRIUMF (ISAC, DRAGON) and NSCL/FRIB. The reactions pursued are usually relevant to nucleosynthesis on the proton rich side of the chart of nuclides.
2) Neutron induced reactions relevant to nuclear energy and non-proliferation issues: we are developing experimental equipment (time projection chamber and dual arm spectrometer) and approaches for precision measurements of fission cross sections and fragment distributions as well as for neutron scattering experiments. These activities are using the LANSCE neutron beam facilities of LANL.
3) Our group has teamed up with research groups in chemistry and chemical engineering to develop the next generation of gamma and neutron sensitive organic scintillators. prototypes are tested with our own laboratory sources and at the WNR beam lines of the LANSCE facility.
The uniting element in all our efforts is instrument development, which we try to apply to all fields where our involvement is beneficial. A strong component at our state university is naturally dedicated to education through the involvement of undergraduate and graduate students in the research enterprise.
The development of the Standard Model has been one of the crowning achievements in modern physics, and is the cornerstone of current subatomic studies. Despite its success, the Standard Model is known to be incomplete, and providing limits on possible physics beyond the Standard Model (BSM) is crucial to our understanding of the physical universe. Although they are generally complex, unstable nuclear systems provide some of the best venues for these studies through the use of rare-isotope beams (RIBs) and world-class experimental facilities.
Our research primarily addresses the above questions via:
1) Precision weak interaction studies via T=1 superallowed 0+->0+ beta decay measurements,
2) Nuclear structure studies into isospin-symmetry-breaking effects through sensitive transfer reaction measurements,
3) Precision measurements of the polarizability of nuclear matter via second-order QED processes in nuclear decay,
4) Novel ion-trap studies of decay rate changes of highly-charged radioactive ions, and
– TRIUMF, Vancouver, Canada
– Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), Michigan State University, USA
– Maier-Leibnitz-Laboratorium (MLL), Garching, Germany
We are also heavily involved in the development of next-generation detection techniques for weak interaction studies via beta decay using ion-traps, large-scale arrays, and bolometric devices.
I am an experimental nuclear and astroparticle physicist in the subatomic group of the physics department at Mines. My research activity spans about 14 orders of magnitude in energy, from the MeV (1MeV=106eV) in low-energy nuclear physics to the hundreds of EeV (1EeV=1018eV) in cosmic-ray physics. I am also involved in medical isotope production using the USGS 1MW TRIGA reactor at the Federal Center in Lakewood. I regularly teach (Honors) Modern Physics (PHGN300/310), Advanced Laboratory II (PHGN326) and Nuclear Physics (PHGN422). Last semester (Spring 2017), I taught the introductory of Astronomy and Astrophysics (PHGN324) course for the first time. I also advise a number of senior design students every year. Those projects represent an important aspect of my research projects.
High Energy Astroparticle Physics: Exceeding 1020 eV, cosmic rays are the highest energy particles known to exist. What are their accelerators? What are they? How to they obtain these energies? To address these questions, I collaborate on two major experiments. The Pierre Auger Observatory, located in Argentina is the world.s largest ground based detector. JEM-EUSO is a pioneering instrument planned for the international space station.
Interdisciplinary Science: Because high energy cosmic ray detectors observe the earth in unique ways as well as the cosmos, their interdisciplinary reach extends to the atmospheric and earth sciences. For example, the Pierre Auger Observatory also measures transient luminous events that occur in the ionosphere high above certain thunderstorms.
Innovative laser test beam systems for Cosmic Ray Observatories: Test beams of 10^20 eV particles do not exist. Well calibrated laser systems can generate optical signatures in the atmosphere that have similarities to the optical signature generated by cosmic rays. Applications of these systems include detector characterization, artificial sky maps and atmospheric science. The Mines group is responsible for the central laser facilities at the Pierre Auger Observatory and systems for the JEM-EUSO Global Light System.