Scientists at the University of Granada have determined the most accurate means of calculating nuclear structures yet known. To do so, they used more than 8000 neutron-proton and proton-proton experimental scattering data, measured between 1950 and 2013 in particle accelerators all over the world.
This study has recently been published in the Physical Review. The research was conducted at the University of Granada by Rodrigo Navarro Pérez, Enrique Ruiz Arriola and José Enrique Amaro, physicists in the Hadrónica research group of the Department of Atomic, Molecular and Nuclear Physics and the Instituto Carlos I de Física Teórica y Computacional.
In their work, the researchers proposed a new form of nuclear energy that they have termed "coarse-grained potential." Following their statistical analysis of more than 8000 data, they found that their results were, on average, 96% accurate.
"The importance of our research lies in the fact that we have not just obtained the nuclear potential but its theoretical statistical error too," explains Professor José Enrique Amaro, one of the authors of the article. "This means we can establish limits to the accuracy with which the strong interaction can be empirically determined, since the experimental data are subject to error. This error limits the accuracy with which current physical theory can describe atomic nuclei."
The new "coarse-grained potential," discovered at the University of Granada, will facilitate the study of the properties of the strong interaction, such as the independent loading of the nuclear structure, or the validity of modern chiral theories (approximations of quantum chromodynamics for low energy). Moreover, it can theoretically be used to calculate the properties of atomic nuclei, such as their internal energy, enabling us to learn the intrinsic theoretical error, due to partial ignorance of the strong interaction, which until now was wholly unknown.
Prof. Amaro explains that "the four fundamental interactions of Physics are gravitation, electromagnetism, the weak interaction and the strong interaction. These four forces are essential for our existence. The strong interaction is the most intense of the four and is the one that binds atomic nuclei together."
The strong interaction is responsible for thermonuclear fusion which takes place in the interior of stars and is based on hydrogen. Without it, the Sun would not emit radiation. "In Physics, knowledge of the strong interaction is essential to understand and describe the processes taking place within nuclei," says Prof. Amaro.
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