The shell structure of atomic nuclei is associated with ‘magic numbers’ and originates in the nearly independent motion of neutrons and protons in a mean potential generated by all nucleons. During β+-decay, a proton transforms into a neutron in a previously not fully occupied orbital, emitting a positron–neutrino pair with either parallel or antiparallel spins, in a Gamow–Teller or Fermi transition, respectively. The transition probability, or strength, of a Gamow–Teller transition depends sensitively on the underlying shell structure and is usually distributed among many states in the neighbouring nucleus. Here we report measurements of the half-life and decay energy for the decay of 100Sn, the heaviest doubly magic nucleus with equal numbers of protons and neutrons. In the β-decay of 100Sn, a large fraction of the strength is observable because of the large decay energy. We determine the largest Gamow–Teller strength so far measured in allowed nuclear β-decay, establishing the ‘superallowed’ nature of this Gamow–Teller transition. The large strength and the low-energy states in the daughter nucleus, 100In, are well reproduced by modern, large-scale shell model calculations.

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We thank the staff of the GSI ion source and accelerator for the preparation of a stable, high-intensity 124Xe beam, and we thank the fragment separator technicians for setting up the beamline detectors. We acknowledge discussions with G. Martínez-Pinedo, K. Langanke and A. Zuker. We are also grateful to the EUROBALL Owners Committee for the use of the Euroball Cluster Detectors. This work was supported by the BMBF under contracts 06MT238, 06MT9156, 06KY205I and 06KY9136I; by the GSI; by the DFG Cluster of Excellence 153 ‘Origin and Structure of the Universe’; by the EC within the FP6 through I3-EURONS (contract no. RII3-CT-2004-506065); and by the Swedish Research Council.

Author information


  1. Physik Department E12, Technische Universität München, D-85748 Garching, Germany

    • C. B. Hinke
    • , M. Böhmer
    • , T. Faestermann
    • , R. Gernhäuser
    • , R. Krücken
    • , L. Maier
    • , K. Steiger
    • , K. Straub
    • , F. Nebel
    •  & S. Schwertel
  2. GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH, D-64291 Darmstadt, Germany

    • P. Boutachkov
    • , H. Geissel
    • , J. Gerl
    • , M. Górska
    • , H. Grawe
    • , N. Kurz
    • , S. Pietri
    • , H. Weick
    • , H.-J. Wollersheim
    • , I. Dillmann
    • , F. Farinon
    • , N. Goel
    • , T. C. Habermann
    • , R. Hoischen
    • , I. M. Kojouharov
    • , Y. Litvinov
    • , C. Nociforo
    • , A. Procházka
    • , H. Schaffner
    •  & C. Scheidenberger
  3. Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro, 35020 Legnaro, Italy

    • A. Gottardo
  4. The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics (IFJ PAN), 31-342 Krakow, Poland

    • J. L. Grębosz
    •  & S. Myalski
  5. TRIUMF, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 2A3, Canada

    • R. Krücken
  6. School of Physics & Astronomy, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JZ, UK

    • Z. Liu
    • , P. J. Woods
    •  & T. Davinson
  7. Université de Strasbourg, IPHC, 67037 Strasbourg Cedex, France

    • F. Nowacki
    •  & K. Sieja
  8. Department of Physics, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, UK

    • Zs. Podolyák
    • , N. Al-Dahan
    • , N. Alkhomashi
    • , G. F. Farrelly
    • , P. H. Regan
    •  & S. J. Steer
  9. Physics Department, Faculty of Science, Ankara University, 06100 Tandogan, Ankara, Turkey

    • A. Ataç
    •  & A. Kaşkaş
  10. Institute of Nuclear Physics, University of Cologne, D-50937 Köln, Germany

    • A. Blazhev
    •  & N. F. Braun
  11. Institute Vinca, University of Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

    • I. T. Čeliković
  12. IFIC, CSIC-University of Valencia, E-46071 Valencia, Spain

    • C. Domingo-Pardo
  13. RIKEN Nishina Center, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan

    • P. C. Doornenbal
    • , S. Nishimura
    •  & P.-A. Söderström
  14. Grand Accélérateur National d’Ions Lourds, CEA/DSM-CNRS/IN2P3, 14076 Caen, France

    • G. de France
  15. Comenius University, 818 06 Bratislava 16, Slovakia

    • R. Janik
    •  & P. Strmeň
  16. Institute of Experimental Physics, University of Warsaw, PL-00681 Warsaw, Poland

    • M. Karny
  17. Institut für Kernphysik, Technische Universität Darmstadt, D-64289 Darmstadt, Germany

    • Th. Kröll
  18. Department of Physics & Astronomy, Uppsala University, SE-75120 Uppsala, Sweden

    • J. Nyberg
  19. Departamento de Fisica i Enginyeria Nuclear, Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (EUETIB), E-08036 Barcelona, Spain

    • A. R. Parikh
  20. KVI, University of Groningen, 9747AA Groningen, The Netherlands

    • C. Rigollet
  21. National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1321, USA

    • A. Stolz


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Fragment separator: H.W., P.B., H. Geissel, M.G., Zs.P. and C.N.; particle detectors: C.B.H., K. Straub, R.G., T.F., L.M. and F. Nebel; RISING γ-array: P.B., M.G., S.P., J.G., I.M.K. and H.-J.W.; data acquisition and analysis software: M.B., R.G., J.L.G., N.K. and L.M.; data analysis and interpretation: C.B.H., K. Straub, T.F., M.G., H. Grawe, R.K., K. Steiger, F. Nowacki and K. Sieja; shell model calculations: F. Nowacki and K. Sieja; writing of manuscript: C.B.H., T.F., R.G., H. Grawe, R.K., F. Nowacki and K. Sieja. All authors except H. Grawe, F. Nowacki and K. Sieja took part in the preparation and the experiments, and all authors commented on the final paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to T. Faestermann.

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