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Nuclear Physics

Spiral 2 Weaves its International Web

spiral 2


Installed at the GANIL facility in Caen, the forthcoming Spiral 2 particle accelerator will be able to produce a large number of exotic nuclei.

Specialists in nuclear physics will soon have new objects to study: “Exotic” nuclei that do not belong to the list of the 300 or so stable elements that currently exist in our universe. These nuclei should be produced in abundance as of 2012 using a new instrument, called Spiral 2,1 installed at France's GANIL (National Heavy Ion Accelerator Laboratory) site in Caen.
This large-scale facility will be built under the joint supervision of CEA and CNRS, with the support of numerous European and international partnerships. In fact, Sydney Gales, deputy scientific director of IN2P3/CNRS2 and director of GANIL, has opted for a series of targeted bilateral partnerships each focused on one aspect of Spiral 2, rather than seeking to team up with partners ready to commit to the project as a whole. Polish and Italian teams have already set up European Associated Laboratories (LEAs), Japan and India have confirmed the creation of International Associated Laboratories (LIAs),3 and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) have been signed with American laboratories. “We also have similar agreements with Germany, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria, and we are in discussions with Spain, the UK, and the Czech Republic. Only South America is currently missing from our global partnership network,” explains Gales.
Each participating laboratory within this star-like network is committed to part of the funding for at least four years, the planned lifetime of the LEAs and LIAs. Over that period, the objective is to associate the various partners into a consortium in 2012-2013, the planned start-up date of Spiral 2. “GANIL has made use of the wide range of European and International partnership tools provided by CNRS to weave an international web based around Spiral 2,” explains Francesca Grassia from CNRS'Office of European Affairs. This type of organization could serve as a model to build and fund other large-scale European scientific facilities of common interest.

Virginie Lepetit

A Generator of Exotic Nuclei
Fifty meters long and ten meters wide, Spiral 2, installed in a tunnel eight meters underground, will be a small particle accelerator. Yet it will provide GANIL physicists with a wide range of exotic nuclei beams, created by uranium fission. The stakes are considerable, because such exotic nuclei no longer exist. Formed in the cosmic cauldrons during the birth or death of stars, their existence was short-lived since they quickly recomposed into the now familiar stable elements. Their study will doubtless help to reconstitute the pathways that produced the heavy elements of our universe, and to explore a new, unknown world of nuclear physics.


Notes :

1. Second Generation On-Line Production of Radioactive Ions System.
2. Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules du CNRS.
3. LEAs and LIAs are “open” laboratories that formalize and structure close collaboration between teams. These four-year partnerships can be renewed for a further term.

Contacts :

Sydney Gales,
IN2P3, Paris.
Francesca Grassia,
Office of European Affairs, Paris.


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