Year of Publication

2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. Steven W. Yates

Abstract

The aim of nuclear structure studies is to observe and describe the structures and associated symmetries in nuclei, which in turn help us in understanding the nature of nucleon-nucleon interactions in a nucleus as a many-body quantum system. The protons and neutrons as constituents of a nucleus and their interactions are responsible for nuclear properties. The evolution of nuclear structure as a function of valence nucleon number, i.e., the number of nucleons beyond a magic number, can be inferred from the experimental level scheme and transition rates. In particular, the studies of low-lying, low-spin excited states in stable nuclei provide valuable information on the interplay of valence neutrons and protons in nuclear structure. The decay scheme and knowledge of transition strengths in the low-lying states become a benchmark for testing theoretical model predictions and understanding the underlying microscopic foundations of nuclear structure. Along with the experimental techniques, theoretical models have been developed to explain and describe the observed nuclear properties, e.g., shell model, Fermi-gas model, optical and liquid-drop models, and several “collective” models.

94/40Zr50 nucleus with 2 protons and 4 neutrons above the shell closures of the 88/38Sr50 core nucleus is considered as a nearly spherical nucleus. Such nuclei present a vibrational structure; surface vibration of the nucleus about a spherical shape. In addition to the symmetric excitations, in which proton and neutron oscillations are in phase, there are another class of excitations in which the wave function is not fully symmetric with respect to the exchange of protons and neutrons. These states are so called mixed-symmetry (MS) states. Such excitations have been observed in the N= 52 neighboring isotones. In this study, the low-lying structure of 94/40Zr has been studied with the (n, n'ƴ) reaction at the University of Kentucky and Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratories (TUNL) facilities, to identify symmetric and MS excitations in this nucleus.

A decay scheme has been established based on excitation function and coincidence measurements. Branching ratios, multipole mixing ratios, and spin assignments have been determined from angular distribution measurements at En= 2.3, 2.8, and 3.5 MeV. Lifetimes of levels up to 3.4 MeV were measured by the Doppler-shift attenuation method (DSAM), and for many transitions reduced transition probabilities were determined. The experimental results were used for the identification of collective symmetric and mixed-symmetric (MS) multiphonon excitations. The 2+/2 state at 1671.4 keV has been identified as the lowest MS state in 94Zr; B(M1; 2+/ms → 2+/1 ) = 0.31(3) μ2/N. This state has an anomalous decay behavior, i.e., B(E2; 2+/ ms → 0+/1 ) = 7.8(7) W.u., which is unusually large compared to the B(E2; 2+/1 → 0+/1 ) = 4.9(3) W.u. More anomalies were identified in the states above the 2+/ms state. For example, the 4+/2 state at 2330 keV decays strongly to the 2+/1 state, B(E2; 4+/2 → 2+/1 ) = 20+3/−2 W.u., compared to the 4+/1 state at 1469 keV, B(E2; 4+/1 → 2+/1 ) = 0.878(23) W.u. The experimental results revealed additional interesting and unusual properties of the low-lying states in 94Zr. Shell model calculations were performed with the Oxbash code, using the Vlow k interaction. Also, the IBM-2 predictions in the vibrational limit were compared with the experimental results. The results from neither of these nuclear models were in good agreement with the observed transition strengths, e.g., the B(E2; 2+/ms → 0+/1 ) value. These observations may indicate that the contributions of valence nucleons in the low-lying excited states of 94Zr differ from what has been perscribed by the shell model and the IBM-2 model. The effects of the Z = 40 and N = 56 subshell closures should be also considered. In a simple interpretation, the excited states are classified in two distinct categories, i.e., those populating the 2+/2 state and those decaying to the 2+/1 state. This approach suggests that in 94Zr the low-lying states may be related to two-configurations coexistence.

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