National Superconducting
Cyclotron Laboratory

Oscar Naviliat Cuncic
Oscar Naviliat Cuncic
Professor of Physics
Experimental Nuclear Physics
Ph.D. Nuclear Physics, Cath. University of Louvain (1989)
Joined NSCL in August 2010
Phone (517) 908-7607
Fax (517) 353-5967
Office 1020
naviliat at

Oscar Naviliat Cuncic

The experimental tests of the foundations of physical theories is a cross disciplinary domain that can hardly be grabbed by any particular subfield of physics. The measurements carried out for such tests are performed using particles, nuclei, atoms, molecules or crystals, and what do concern the specific subfields are the experimental techniques being used.

My research activities have been focused on experimental tests of discrete symmetries in the weak interaction (parity violation and time reversal invariance) and in the searches for new interactions through precision measurements using muons, neutrons and nuclei, which in most cases were spin polarized. Some measurements also required the use traps, such as material-, electromagnetic-, or magneto-gravitational traps, for the confinement of particles. Precision measurements at low energies are considered an alternative route in the search for new particles and interactions as compared to that pursued at the highest possible energies, in collider experiments. In general, the principles of experiments at low energies are rather simple but the measurements are difficult and challenging. The design of new experiments requires implementing modern techniques in order to reach new levels of sensitivity.

Atomic nuclei offer a very rich spectrum of candidates for precision measurements at low energies due to the large number of isotopes, the diversity of states and the different decay modes involving the fundamental interactions. The abundant production of rare isotopes opens further the spectrum for the design of new sensitive experiments.

My current activities at NSCL concern beta decay experiments using either fast or stopped beams. Fast and clean beams have made possible measurement of the energy spectra of beta particles without instrumental effects which were present in past measurements. This enables the search for possible contributions of tensor type interactions in Gamow-Teller transitions as a signature of physics beyond the standard model. Another project is the measurement of polarization correlations in beta decay, using low energy polarized nuclei, to search for deviations from maximal parity violation. This requires the construction of a new polarimeter for positrons that will be used with beams polarized by laser optical pumping.

The intellectual creativity in the design of experiments, and in particular those addressing the foundations of physical theories, has been fascinating to me.

Test of parity

The test of parity (mirror symmetry) in nuclear beta decay provides a window to search for new interactions, like those which could be mediated by right-handed vector bosons.

Selected Publications

Prospects for Precision Measurements in Nuclear b  Decay in the LHC era O. Naviliat-Cuncic and M. Gonzalez-Alonso, Ann. Phys. (Berlin) 525, 600 (2013)

Symmetry Tests in Nuclear Beta Decay N. Severijns and O. Naviliat-Cuncic, Annu. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 61, 23 (2011)

Test of the Conserved Vector Current Hypothesis in T=1/2 Mirror Transitions and New Determination of |Vud| O. Naviliat-Cuncic and N. Severijns, Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 142302 (2009)

Tests of the standard electroweak model in nuclear beta decay, N. Sverijns, M. Beck and O. Naviliat-Cuncic, Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 991 (2006)