Nuclear Physics Overview


The main activities in the Department of Nuclear Physics at iThemba LABS are research and training (mainly at post-graduate level) in basic and applied nuclear physics.  The basic research being conducted is aimed at expanding knowledge about nuclear reaction mechanisms and nuclear structure. Particle beams supplied by the injector and separated sector cyclotrons (SSC), along with experimental facilities managed by our group are used for this research. The major facilities include a K600 magnetic spectrometer, the AFRODITE gamma-ray detector array and the large A-line scattering chamber.  In order to produce and store targets needed for SSC-related research, a target laboratory is being set up by the group. The group also conducts research on theoretical nuclear physics. In this regard there are at  present  strong focus on clustering phenomena in nuclei and the modeling of rapidly rotating nuclei.

The applied research is conducted mainly in the Environmental Radioactivity Laboratory (ERL) which is operated by our department, and by means of neutron (secondary) beams produced via protons (from the SSC). In the ERL research is conducted into natural and anthropogenic radioactivity in the environment (soils, sediment, water, biological material). The main techniques used are in-situ and ex-situ gamma-ray spectrometry. The ERL also performs routine measurements of environmental samples for the Radiation Safety Division. The neutron-related studies are aimed at studying biological effects of ionizing radiation and the intercomparison of dosimetry systems.  In order to complement mainly the applied research we also conduct research around the use of Monte Carlo simulation techniques to model the interaction of radiation with materials.