Nathan Frank - Research

My research interests are in the structure of atomic nuclei at the edge of existence. The nuclei I study are so unstable that they emit neutrons. The structure of these nuclei is particularly interesting since their properties are so different from nuclei you find in a scoop of dirt in your own backyard (nuclei near stability). I perform my research at Michigan State University (MSU) at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). This research work is difficult and lonely for an undergraduate professor like me. I am a member of a mainly small-liberal arts institution collaboration that performs this type of research, the MoNA Collaboration. MoNA stands for the Modular Neutron Array that is used to detect neutrons in our experiments. The collaboration is known in nuclear physics circles, but you can find information additional information in the links below.

MoNA website
MoNA Blog 

Research Projects

I was a Primary Investigator on an experiment performed at the NSCL, "Neutron Unbound States in 28F." I brought two students, Mark Warren (Spring '11) and Steven Ash (Fall '11), to work on the experiment in late January 2010. Please take a look at some of the pictures from the trip. Both Mark and Steven presented this research at a poster session at the Division of Nuclear Physics (DNP) meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico in early November of 2010. Please follow the link to see an abstract for the poster at the DNP meeting. The primary result is a new measurement that clarifies the structure of the 28F nucleus. Two papers describing the results were published in 2011. 

Stuart Casarotto (Spring '14) and Natalie Viscariello (Spring '14), continued working on other nuclei produced in the 28F experiment during the Summer of 2011. In addition, they traveled to the NSCL to participate in an experiment performed with other member institutions to commission an additional neutron detector system, the Large Institutional Scintillation Array (LISA). The full neutron detection system MoNA-LISA will improve our experiments by making it possible to measure neutrons from high-lying neutron-unbound states.

Stuart, Natalie, and I also tested and assembled a new detector system during the school year of 2011-2012. This detector called a hodoscope was purchased jointly by Augustana College and the NSCL. The hodoscope will make it possible to clearly identify heavier neutron-rich nuclei providing experimental opportunities not currently available for our research. Stuart and Natalie presented a poster at the DNP meeting held at MSU in East Lansing, MI in the Fall of 2011. The poster described the usage and testing procedure for the hodoscope. The hodoscope was delivered and installed in February 2012 at the NSCL.

During summer 2012 six students worked on three research projects and two of them were presented as posters at the DNP meeting held at Newport Beach, CA. Here are the projects:

1) Active Target Simulation: a new device that would replace passive target material with detector material that also is the target; this would significantly improve the resolution of neutron-unbound state measurements. Nathan Smith (Spring '14) and Peter Draznik (Spring '14) worked on this project. Here is a link showing Peter presenting the poster (see picture 70 on left) at the meeting.
2) Two-neutron emission: demonstrated that unusual structures histograms produced from three-body coordinates (Jacobian Coordinates) corresponded to one neutron scattering and therefore appearing to be a two-neutron event. Mark Hoffman (Spring '15), Stuart Casarotto, and Kyle Williams (Spring '13) worked on this project. Here is a link showing Mark and Kyle presenting their poster (see pictures 72 and 116 on left) at the meeting.
3) Bound excited states determination using detected gamma-rays from 31,30Na after reactions from 32Mg upon 9Be nuclei. Natalie Viscariello worked on this project. The data analysis is on-going.

In addition we participated in the commissioning experiment of the hodoscope in August 2012.

During summer 2013 two students analyzed data taken during the hodoscope commissioning experiment in 2012. They characterized the detector so that future experiments will work out well. In addition we are setting up a local data analysis machine, designing a segmented target system, working on a few fun side projects, and participated in an experiment at the NSCL in early June.

These are a list of useful nuclear physics journals I use.
Physical Review Letters
Physical Review C
Nuclear Physics A
Nuclear Physics B
Nuclear Instrumentation and Methods in Physics A
Nuclear Instrumentation and Methods in Physics B
Nuclear Physics Data
National Nuclear Data Compilation (NNDC)

Dr. Nathan Frank
Department of Physics
Augustana College
Rock Island, IL 61201

Office:  Science 206
Phone:  309-794-3402

Last update: July 17, 2013