The HI-SPIN (Heavy Ions and SPectroscopic Investigations in Nuclei) group carries out fundamental research in experimental nuclear structure physics and applied research in detector development, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Topics in nuclear spectroscopy include the synthesis and stability of the heaviest elements, metastable isomeric states at high spins, and the interplay between collective excitations (rotations and vibrations) and single-particle excitations. Applied research directions include novel radiation detectors and techniques, digital signal processing and imaging, and research with neutron and proton beams at the in-house facilities of the Radiation Laboratory, which houses a 5.5 MeV Van de Graaff accelerator and a 1 MW research reactor.
Research in fundamental topics in nuclear structure is carried out at national accelerator facilities. Atomic nuclei in "high-spin" states are created by colliding fast-moving heavy ions with a stationary target. Recent and upcoming experiments were proposed and carried out by the group at ATLAS (Argonne Tandem-Linac Acceleration System) and CARIBU (Californium Rare Isotope Beam Upgrade) at Argonne National Laboratory, the Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory at Yale, and the cyclotron facility at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland. The excited nuclei lose energy and slow down by emitting gamma-rays, which carry all the information regarding the properties of the nucleus. The gamma rays are detected with powerful detector arrays such as Gammasphere, a national gamma-ray detector array of 110 high-purity germanium detectors with ultra-high resolution and sensitivity. The multi-parameter "event-by-event" data from these experiments are analyzed at UMass Lowell on LINUX computer clusters. Students get to interact with international groups of research scientists in these "off-site" accelerator experiments. The group participates in collaborative experiments with next generation gamma-ray tracking arrays such as GRETINA, being built at the 88" cyclotron at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.
Applied research in advanced detector development is carried out in collaboration with high-tech industries and national laboratories. These efforts are aimed at developing next-generation instrumentation and techniques for radiation detection, for use in nuclear research as well as in imaging and bio-medical applications. Students get hands-on experience on campus with cutting-edge radiation detection technology. The detector characterization facilities include multi-parameter data acquisition and analysis systems, and storage oscilloscopes with GHz sampling speeds for digital pulse processing. The radiation detector inventory includes coaxial and planar high-purity germanium detectors, position-sensitive avalanche photo-diodes, germanium double-sided strip detectors, and emerging scintillation materials with ultra-fast timing and/or neutron-gamma discrimination capabilities. The detector projects are closely tied with funded research in advanced fuel cycle analysis and nuclear data development projects.