We know explosive stellar events can form superheavy elements, but describing exactly how this happens pushes the boundaries of our understanding of physics and chemistry.
On Earth, researchers can synthesise superheavy elements at accelerator laboratories through fusion of two heavy nuclei. Understanding the many-body quantum dynamics involved is crucial for successfully forming superheavy nuclides in the lab and gives us new insight into how this may occur in cosmic stellar events.
Professor Mahananda Dasgupta and Emeritus Professor David John Hinde, both from the Australian National University, are jointly awarded the 2023 Walter Boas Medal for Excellence in Research for ‘elucidating the crucial roles and mechanisms of nuclear structure in the synthesis of superheavy nuclei’.
Dasgupta and Hinde have revealed key physics at each of the three stages in the synthesis of superheavy nuclides. They’ve achieved this through innovative measurements made on specialist instrumentation they developed for this purpose.
Their research has contributed to Australia’s leading role in nuclear reaction dynamics, drawing invitations to join international superheavy element collaborations, and attracting top research teams to Australia to run experiments.
The Walter Boas Medal was established in 1984 to promote excellence in research in Physics and to commemorate the life and work of Walter Moritz Boas, who was an AIP Honorary Fellow.
The Medal is awarded annually for original research that makes an important contribution to physics in Australia.