Nuclear Physics

Sezione Fisica Nucleare

Coordinator Prof. Marco LA COMMARA


The Nuclear Physics Section not only conducts research in the fields of experimental and theoretical nuclear physics; the section is also active in the field of applied nuclear physics for biology, medicine and materials analysis of cultural and environmental objects.

The nuclear physics experimental program includes the study of atomic nuclei in extreme conditions - high excitation energies or angular momenta and the relationship between N/Z and mass.

Another experimental focus of the section is the measurement of cross sections of nuclear reactions of interest for astrophysics. Nuclear theory concentrates on the description of low-energy nuclear structure.

The applied nuclear physics group specialises on experimental research in archeometry (development of instrumentation for x-ray fluorescence analysis of cultural artifacts), the investigation of the biophysical effects of ionizing radiation, the study of natural and artificial radiation and research on dosimetry for space missions.

Other members of the section work on the development of new technologies for imaging diagnostics and radiotherapy.

Further activity includes fundamental physics research on charged and neutral antimatter, applied physics in geology and medicine and R&D of detection techniques for the field.

The different research groups of the section participate in the leading projects of their respective fields.

Our nuclear experimentalists are members of a number of the main activities of Group 3 of the INFN, among them the projects SPES and LUNA. The SPES (Selective Production of Exotic Species) facility is currently under construction at LNL and will from 2019 on provide the first second-generation (in terms of intensity, purity and energy) radioactive ion beams.

This will open the path to the study of the structure and reaction mechanisms of exotic nuclei in the "terra incognita" of the chart of the nuclides, one of the frontiers of world nuclear physics research in the coming years.

SPES serves as an anchor point for multiple INFN projects involving members of the section. The LUNA (Laboratory for Underground Nuclear Astrophysics) experiment at the Gran Sasso Underground Laboratory has since over 20 years been dedicated to the measurement of nuclear reactions of astrophysical interest using accelerators in a deep underground environment.
Both of these projects have in the last years been selected as "progetti premiali" by the INFN and have been awarded grants of about 50 million and 6 million Euro, respectively.
The nuclear theory group is involved in international collaborations with theorists and experimentalists on the study of exotic nuclei using microscopic models with realistic interactions. In addition they're also involved in SPES through participation in the Scientific Study Group.
Taking place under the umbrella of Group 5 of the INFN as well as various national and international projects is the applied nuclear physics activity of the section. The medical physics group is one of the three participants of the European project MAxIMA (2016-2018) and one of the local researchers is responsible for the work packages assigned to the department of physics (250000 Euro) as well as other tasks of the collaboration.

Furthermore the group is in charge of the dosimetry for new breast cancer phase contrast imaging technology using synchrotron radiation and single-photon detectors as part of an extensive national project of the Group 5 of the INFN.
As partner of the European Union COST action program SYRA3 the group is working with other European groups on applied synchrotron radiation research. The radiation biophysics group is the national responsible for the only project entirely focused on radiobiology ETHICS (3-year project, 32 FTE, 180000 Euro for 2016-2017) and is the radiobiology coordinator of the experiment L3IA, another INFN Group 5 project.
The radioactivity group performs measurements aimed at the generation of maps of the natural and artificial radiation, also developing novel detection techniques.
The study of ways to minimize the radiation exposure of astronauts in their future missions is another interest of this group.
Last but not least the archeometry group (which is supported by the INFN in the national cultural heritage framework CHnet) will in the next three years be included into the structure of H20H20 IPERYON-CH, part of the European network E-RIHS (European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science).
This infrastructure will as soon as possible be included in the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) roadmap 2016-2020.

Our combined activities guarantee a top-level scientific output of high intensity, with over 120 peer reviewed publication in the last three years.

Detailed research activities of Nuclear Physics.

The section provides full coverage of basic and advanced classes on nuclear and biomedical physics.