Experimental Nuclear Physics, Applications and Instrumentation (ENPAI)

ENPAI focuses on experimental nuclear physics, utilizing data acquisition, detector design, and electronics. Their meticulous measurements of nuclear reactions and decay processes provide critical data—cross-sections, beta-delayed neutron emission probabilities, and decay constants—needed for applications like nuclear reactor design and understanding stellar evolution. ENPAI develops specialized detectors (e.g., BELEN for neutrons) and next-generation dosimeters. Through global collaboration and innovation, they contribute to fundamental nuclear science with practical applications.

Exploring the Fundamentals:

The ENPAI research group delves into the core of nuclear science, investigating its fundamental building blocks through three key research lines:

  1. Basic Nuclear Data Measurements:
  • Goal: Acquire crucial data to comprehend nuclear reactions and decay processes.
  • Examples:
    • Characterizing neutron capture cross-sections, half-lives, and delayed neutron emission probabilities.
    • Measuring neutrons of cosmic origin and alpha-induced neutron emissions.
  • Applications: These measurements contribute significantly to diverse fields like nuclear reactor design and stellar nucleosynthesis.
  1. Detector Design and Construction:
  • Goal: Develop and build specialized detectors tailored to specific experimental requirements.
  • Examples:
    • High-efficiency neutron detectors like BELEN for measuring delayed neutrons.
    • HENSA and LINrem for characterizing neutron fields.
  1. Electronic Instrumentation:
  • Goal: Design and refine electronic systems to control and analyze data from detectors, ensuring accurate and efficient measurements.
  • Examples: Developing specialized electronics specifically for neutron detectors.

A Legacy of Collaboration:

  • The ENPAI research group was established in 2000 as a result of an international collaboration that designed and championed the building of CERN's n_TOF facility, dedicated to measuring neutron-induced nuclear reactions.
  • Over the years, the group has actively participated in various international projects like n_TOF, FAIR, BRIKEN and MANY, contributing substantially to advancements in nuclear physics research.
  • ENPAI primarily receives funding through national and European competitive research grants.

The Driving Force: Scientific Motivation

Understanding nuclear processes necessitates a deep grasp of three critical parameters:

  • Microscopic Cross Sections: The probability of a specific nuclear reaction occurring when a nucleus interacts with neutrons, alpha particles, etc.
  • Decay Constants: The rate at which unstable nuclei decay over time.
  • Delayed Neutron Emission Probabilities: The probability of a neutron being emitted after a nucleus undergoes beta decay.

Acquiring this knowledge is crucial in various domains, including:

  • Nuclear reactor design
  • Stellar evolution studies
  • Medical applications

Furthermore, designing and building specialized detectors plays a vital role not only in acquiring accurate data for fundamental studies but also in:

  • Measuring neutron fields in underground laboratories and research facilities.
  • Applications in hadron therapy.

Current Research Landscape:

The ENPAI group actively engages in a diverse range of research activities:

  • Cross-section measurements
  • Pn measurements
  • Measuring neutron fields in various settings, including secondary neutrons produced by cosmic rays, underground laboratories, research facilities, and hadron therapy facilities.
  • Investigating the spectrometric behavior of BELEN-like neutron detectors.
  • Developing advanced neutron dosimeters.
  • Implementing Artificial Intelligence in signal processing and data analysis.
  • Designing electronic modules for neutron detectors.

Through its diverse research lines, international collaborations, and unwavering commitment to innovation, ENPAI plays a crucial role in advancing our understanding of the fundamental principles of nuclear science, while simultaneously developing novel detectors for practical applications.

Contact: Prof. Francisco Calvino