The Nuclear Chemistry effort at WU is aimed at answering the following basic science questions:
- Why are some nuclei stable and others not?
- What are the limits of nuclear stability in terms of mass, charge to mass, angular momentum and excitation energy and how nuclei decay at the limits of stability, see Fig. 1 for a recent discovery.)
- Why are some nuclei deformed and other not?
- How are nuclei synthesized in the early universe and in stellar environments?
- How does the density of states of the nuclear system evolve with excitation energy and angular momentum? Or in general, how can, or should, one describe the thermodynamics of small quantum systems?
- What is the Equation of State (EoS) of nuclear matter (the material that comprises greater than 99% of the (non-dark) matter of the universe?
In addressing these questions, the WU group has led the US effort in the development of application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for modern detectors for ionizing radiation, see Fig. 2:
Additional information can be found at the following web sites:
- For the quantum structure of nuclei: Demetrios Sarantites
- For continuum structure of light nuclei and nuclear reaction dynamics: Robert Charity and Lee Sobotka
- For nuclear many-body quantum mechanics: Willem Dickhoff
Radiochemistry is concerned with how to use radioisotopes for chemical, physical or medical studies. The current projects are:
- The study of both photosynthesis and photorespiration using 11CO2 (Fig. 3). This project is a collaboration with Jake Schaefer and uses solid-state NMR and mass spectrometry.
- Production of radioisotopes for medical imaging and other radiotracer studies. This work, carried out with Suzanne Lapi in Radiology, uses the three cyclotrons (see Fig. 4) at the WU school of medicine (www.wustlisotopes.com ). We are particularly interested in the development of novel isotopes for Positron Emission Tomography (PET, see Fig. 5), a tool for medical imaging developed at WU. Future efforts in this area will include isotope harvesting at the national Facility for Rare Isotope Beams – FRIB.
- Development of radiopharmaceuticals for PET. Our group also seeks to develop tumor targeting agents for imaging cancer biology noninvasively. For more about these projects please see www.lapilab.com.