Nuclear Physics Overview

Towards the end of the 19th century many scientists thought that no new advances in physics remained to be made. Yet within ten years Henri Becquerel, Pierre and Marie Curie as well as Ernest Rutherford succeeded in marking out an entirely new branch of physics called radioactivity.

nuc1In 1911 Rutherford made its greatest contribution to science with his nuclear theory of the atom. Twenty years later Chadwick discovered the neutron and the nucleus made of protons and neutrons, as we know it, can be said to date from that time.

And so nuclear physics was born…

The research in basic nuclear physics involves mainly experimental studies of the properties of the nuclei at moderate to high excitation energy and angular momentum, as well as studies of the different mechanisms through which nuclear reactions occur.

focalplane-detectors-original-3-small1Particle beams accelerated through the Separated Sector Cyclotron are used in the experiments. Light charged particles emitted in nuclear reactions are studied with the K-600 magnetic spectrometer.
Gamma-ray spectroscopy is carried out with the AFRODITE gamma-ray array. Neutron facility provides a beam of collimated near mono-energetic neutrons with energies up to 200 MeV. A multi-purpose large 1.5 m scattering chamber is used for studying charge particles emission in the nuclear reactions. Precise cross sections for nuclear reactions are measured on a dedicated beam line – sigma-R line.

The research in applied nuclear physics is focused on studying the natural and anthropogenic radioactivity of our environment and its use in practical applications.

All the studies are directed towards finding how these tiny pieces of matter – the atomic nuclei – are built, how they interact with each other, and how the acquired knowledge can be applied in order to improve our everyday life.

5 Year Plan

From the Director’s Office

A New Year brings new opportunities to share a vision, build collaborations and shape the future.

Read more

Corporate Profile

Corporate profile of iThemba LABS in February issue of Leadership Magazine p. 68-69

Read more p. 68-69

Physics Masterclasses

The International Masterclasses in Particle Physics will be held on 1st April at iThemba LABS. These classes give secondary school students the opportunity to discover the world of quarks and leptons for themselves.
See Gallery of images from last year's masterclass

Read more ...

SA-CERN Collaboration

Big data science in South Africa reaching new funding highs through the South African CERN collaboration

Read more ...

News Archive