Fusing Neutron-Rich Nuclei: The March to the Neutron-Drip Line
Abstract: Fusion of two nuclei is a fascinating process in which two small quantal systems merge to form a single system. It is a physical process of importance responsible for synthesis of the elements in stellar interiors and in neutron star merger events. How nuclei in these neutron-rich environments fuse is presently unclear. A new generation of radioactive beam facilities enables investigation of the fusion of neutron-rich nuclei. A key quantity in characterizing fusion which provides insight into the fusion process is the dependence of the fusion cross-section on energy. The low intensity of the beam in these radioactive beam experiments mandated development of a new set of experimental tools. I will describe experiments performed by my group over the past decade at Florida State University, Michigan State University, and at the GANIL facility in France. The experimental results are confronted with state-of-the art models which fail to describe the observed trends. These experiments all indicate that fusion of neutron-rich nuclei deviates from that of stable nuclei. Plans to extend these measurements to the most neutron-rich nuclei will be presented.