Seminar Details

Theory of Nuclear Fission

Nicolas Schunck, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
Wednesday, January 30, 4:10 PM - Nuclear Science Seminar
NSCL Lecture Hall

The mechanism of nuclear fission has been used successfully for several decades in practical applications such as energy production. However, most of these applications rely on powerful semi-phenomenological models finely tuned to specific data, and the connections between these models and the underlying nuclear interactions within the atomic nucleus remain somewhat unclear. In many areas of basic nuclear science where fission plays a major role, such as, e.g., the stability of superheavy elements, or the formation of elements in nuclear capture processes (fission recycling), experimental data is scarce at best, very often unavailable. A predictive theory of fission, which would firmly root the dynamic of the fission process and the properties of the fission fragments into the theory of nuclear interactions, would, therefore, prove invaluable. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has started such a comprehensive program on nuclear fission theory a few years ago. The laboratory is also a key player in large global US efforts, such as the SciDAC 2 UNEDF and SciDAC 3 NUCLEI programs, which aim at achieving a better understanding of nuclear structure by combining our best knowledge of the nuclear force, high-performance computing and applied mathematics. Our framework to describe fission is the nuclear energy density functional theory (DFT) and large amplitude collective dynamics, and it is very dependent on the growing field of computational nuclear physics on leadership class computers. After a historical reminder, specific challenges and selected advances in the field will be reviewed. In particular, special attention will be put to the quantum mechanics of the scission point (when the nucleus finally splits in two) and the impact of high-performance computing in large-scale DFT calculations.