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Center for Frontiers in Nuclear Science

Stony Brook University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) have established a Center for Frontiers in Nuclear Science to help scientists better understand the building blocks of visible matter. The new Center will push the frontiers of knowledge about quarks, gluons and their interactions that form protons, neutrons, and ultimately 99.9 percent of the mass of atoms – the bulk of the visible universe.

Bolstered by a new $5 million grant from the Simons Foundation and augmented by $3 million in research grants received by Stony Brook University, the Center will be a research and education hub to ultimately help scientists unravel more secrets of the universe’s strongest and least-understood force to advance both fundamental science and applications that transform our lives.

The Center brings together current Stony Brook faculty, BNL staff, and scientists around the world with students and new scientific talent to investigate the structure of nucleons (protons and neutrons) and nuclei at a fundamental level. Despite the importance of nucleons in all visible matter, scientists know less about their internal structure and dynamics than about any other component of visible matter. Over the next several decades, the Center is slated to become a leading international intellectual hub for quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a branch of physics that describes the properties of nucleons, starting from the interactions of the quarks and gluons inside them.

EIC-Linked Mission

As part of the Center’s mission as a destination of research, collaboration, and education for international scientists and students, workshops and seminars are planned for scientists to discuss and investigate theoretical concepts and promote experimental measurements to advance QCD-based nuclear science. The Center will support graduate education in nuclear science and conduct visitor programs to support and promote the Center’s role as an international research hub for physics related to a proposed Electron Ion Collider (EIC).

Scientists at the Center, working with EIC Users Group (EICUG), will have a specific focus on QCD inside the nucleon and how it shapes fundamental nucleon properties, such as spin and mass; the role of high-density many-body QCD and gluons in nuclei; the quark-gluon plasma at the high temperature frontier; and the connections of QCD to weak interactions and nuclear astrophysics. Longer term, the Center’s programmatic focus is expected to reflect the evolution of nuclear science priorities in the United States.

Combined Expertise

Stony Brook and BNL have internationally renowned programs in nuclear physics that focus on understanding QCD. Stony Brook’s nuclear physics group has recently expanded its expertise by adding faculty in areas such as electron scattering and neutrino science. BNL operates the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a DOE Office of Science User Facility and the world’s most versatile particle collider. RHIC has pioneered the study of quark-gluon matter at high temperatures and densities—known as quark-gluon plasma—and is exploring the limits of normal nuclear matter. Together, these cover a major part of the course charted by the U.S. nuclear science community in its 2015 Long Range Plan.

Leadership

Abhay Deshpande, PhD, Professor of experimental nuclear physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, has been named Director of the Center. Professor Deshpande has promoted an EIC for more than two decades and helped create a ~700-member global scientific community (the EIC Users Group, EICUG) interested in pursuing the science of an EIC. In the fall of 2016, he was elected as the first Chair of its Steering Committee, effectively serving as its spokesperson, a position from which he has stepped down to direct the new Center. Concurrently with his position as Center Director, Dr. Deshpande also serves as Director of EIC Science at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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Brookhaven National Laboratory advances fundamental research in nuclear and particle physics to gain a deeper understanding of matter, energy, space, and time; applies photon sciences and nanomaterials research to energy challenges of critical importance to the nation; and performs cross-disciplinary research on climate change, sustainable energy, and Earth’s ecosystems.