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Nuclear Chemistry at Oregon State University

The Nuclear Chemistry Faculty at Oregon State University consists of Professor Walter Loveland and adjunct Professor Alena Paulenova

Professor Walter Loveland is primarily interested in the study of nucleus-nucleus collisions at low, intermediate, and high energies. The long term goals of his nuclear chemistry research group are: (a) searching for new phenomena at the limits of nuclear stability; (b) studying the dynamics and thermodynamics of colliding nuclei; and (c) application of nuclear techniques to the study of environmental and/or biomedical problems.  In the study of low energy reactions involving very heavy nuclei, the possibility of synthesizing new atomic nuclei or elements exists. Reactions induced by nuclei of intermediate energies can be used to study the quantum statistical mechanics of many body systems involving relatively small numbers of particles (<300).

A typical experiment involves irradiating a metal foil with a heavy ion beam from a particle accelerator and detecting the reaction products recoiling from the target at various angles with large detector arrays. The multiparameter data are recorded on magnetic tape for immediate, on-line analysis and later off-line analysis.

Experiments generally involve international collaborations and take place at accelerator complexes in Europe and the U.S. Measurements are made at the accelerator with computer-aided data analysis taking place at OSU.

Recent accomplishments of the Loveland group involve the study of fusion reactions with radioactive beams and the generation of several new nuclei by fission and fragmentation of heavy nuclei and exploring synthetic paths to new heavy nuclei.

Students participating in such research programs generally become facile with computers, measurements of and manipulation of radioactivity, construction of equipment, modern high speed electronics and the problems and rewards of international, collaborative research. (A desire to travel is a necessity). These skills have led to jobs for graduates in basic nuclear research, nuclear medicine, nuclear energy, semiconductor doping, ion implantation, and archaeology.

View of the interior of the TRIGA reactor.
Nuclear Group
Graduate students setting up an experiment.