Review Article | Published:

Shape coexistence and triaxiality in the superheavy nuclei

Nature volume 433, pages 705709 (17 February 2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Superheavy nuclei represent the limit of nuclear mass and charge; they inhabit the remote corner of the nuclear landscape, whose extent is unknown. The discovery of new elements with atomic numbers Z ≥ 110 has brought much excitement to the atomic and nuclear physics communities. The existence of such heavy nuclei hangs on a subtle balance between the attractive nuclear force and the disruptive Coulomb repulsion between protons that favours fission. Here we model the interplay between these forces using self-consistent energy density functional theory; our approach accounts for spontaneous breaking of spherical symmetry through the nuclear Jahn–Teller effect. We predict that the long-lived superheavy elements can exist in a variety of shapes, including spherical, axial and triaxial configurations. In some cases, we anticipate the existence of metastable states and shape isomers that can affect decay properties and hence nuclear half-lives.

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Acknowledgements

We thank M. Bender, J. Dobaczewski and M. Stoyer for discussions. This work was supported in part by the US Department of Energy, by the National Nuclear Security Administration under the Stewardship Science Academic Alliances programme, by the Belgian Science Policy Office, by NATO, and by the Polish Committee for Scientific Research (KBN).

Author information

Author notes

    • S. Ćwiok

    Deceased

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Physics, Warsaw University of Technology, ul. Koszykowa 75, PL-00662, Warsaw, Poland

    • S. Ćwiok
  2. Service de Physique Nucléaire Théorique, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP 229, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium

    • P.-H. Heenen
  3. Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA

    • W. Nazarewicz
  4. Physics Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PO Box 2008, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, USA

    • W. Nazarewicz
  5. Institute of Theoretical Physics, Warsaw University, ul. Hoza 69, PL-00681, Warsaw, Poland

    • W. Nazarewicz

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The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P.-H. Heenen.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03336

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