Thousands of tiny systems called atomic nuclei – specific combinations of protons and neutrons – prove extremely difficult to study but have big implications for nuclear stockpile stewardship. To describe all of the nuclei and the reactions between them, a nationwide collaboration is devising powerful algorithms that run on high-performance computers.
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Density functional theory (DFT) can be used to determine densities of protons and neutrons making up a nucleus. “If we can determine those densities precisely,” says Witold Nazarewicz, professor of physics at the University of Tennessee, “we can determine the binding energy – the energy stored in the nucleus.” The energy density functional (EDF) in [...]