University of Brighton PhD graduate Dr Frank Browne has received the Nuclear Physics Early Career Award from the Institute of Physics (IOP). And soon after graduating from the university last summer he landed a research job at the RIKEN research institute in Japan, renowned for recently discovering a new element, nihonium.
Dr Browne, 29, won £250 and the opportunity to present his work at the IOP nuclear physics annual conference at the University of Birmingham, starting 3 April.
He explained his research: “The popular image of the atomic nucleus is that of a jumble of protons and neutrons (collectively known as nucleons) arranged in a spherical shape at the centre of the atom. However, in reality the nucleons are arranged in well-defined shells, much like the electrons are in atoms. The arrangement of these shells can cause the nucleus to take on different shapes.
“In a nutshell, through the application of an array of novel radiation detectors developed by the universities of Brighton and Surrey, I was able to measure how much like a rugby ball some unstable nuclei looked like. This measurement paves the way for more robust theoretical descriptions of how the protons and neutrons behave in the nuclear medium. It also validates this novel technique for future experiments at next-generation accelerator facilities.”